Suzanne's Perfume Journal

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After wracking my brain for a way to write about Bond No. 9 Andy Warhol Silver Factory that connects it to its namesake, I almost gave up. True, I could talk about the silvery, almost metallic treatment of Silver Factory’s incense note, as other reviewers have successfully done before me. Or I could talk about incense being a genius pick for Silver Factory because of the expansive nature of its smell—its ability to convey a sense of ascendancy to a higher plane that, in this context, might call to mind a drifty artist’s loft. But these elements, while they hold my senses in thrall, fail to evoke that shock-of-the-new (to borrow a description from art critic Robert Hughes) effect that Andy Warhol had on the art world back in his day. Nor is there anything in Silver Factory, the fragrance, that smacks of the sexual debauchery that took place (and was often the subject of Warhol’s underground films) in Silver Factory, the studio.

But because it is, in a number of regards, a shiny incense perfume with a groove that I rather dig, I didn’t entirely give up on making a connection. In the final assessment, I decided that Bond No. 9 and perfumer Aurlélian Guichard (who composed the fragrance) have given us the same kind of playful, nostalgic and grin-inducing version of Warhol’s factory as might be seen through the eyes of comedian Mike Myers’ swinging ’60s alter-ego, Austin Powers. And considering how much of Warhol’s art was intent on mirroring his fellow Americans’ love of all things iconic, plastic and blatantly commercial, I don’t feel totally remiss at making such a connection. I’m sure Andy Warhol would have loved it if the Fembots that Austin Powers battled in his first movie (dismantling them with nothing more than his mojo and the irresistible naughtiness of his Union Jack skivvies) had been blowing Silver Factory perfume out of their silvery jomblies, rather than whatever pink-colored smoke was coming out of those things

Anyhoo, released in 2007, Andy Warhol Silver Factory has fragrance notes of incense, wood resin, amber, jasmine, iris, violet and cedarwood. Just as it’s listed first among these notes, incense is upfront and predominant in this perfume—there’s no waiting around for it to emerge. Within a couple minutes of applying Silver Factory, the cool, powdery and slightly metallic combination of iris and violet rise up to meet the incense, imparting a silvery, tambourine-like shimmer to the scent. Even though one can already smell the warmth of the other notes in the fragrance gaining strength—the sweet roundness of amber, light nectar of jasmine, and dry kindling of cedarwood, all swirling around one another in the most shagadelic of ways—there is a state of suspended animation that Silver Factory seems to exist in, thanks to the chill and vaporous combination of the incense, iris and violet

The overall mood of the fragrance is one of enigmatic detachment; enigmatic because one clearly gets a whiff of something quite frisky that could purr into action at a moment’s notice, that is being kept in check only by discipline. Think Austin Powers making the scene at the Silver Factory, where surely the “It Girl” he would bump into wouldn’t be poor-little-rich-girl Edie Sedgwick but the far more enterprising and swinging Felicity Shagwell.

February 2, 2011:

Bond No. 9 Andy Warhol Silver Factory eau de parfum is available from the Bond No. 9 boutiques and website: $160 for 50 ml or $240 for 100 ml. (A little 7-ml container called a bon-bon is also available for purchase at $50.) They’re currently offering free ground shipping on any order. [NOTE: Please disregard purchase information. In the time since this post was first written, Bond No. 9 has DISCONTINUED this fragrance. Too bad, it was one of their best scents!]

Photos: Heather Graham as Felicity Shagwell in the 1999 film, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (from New Line Cinema) were gathered from various sites on the Internet.

Bond No. 9 Andy Warhol Silver Factory:

Nod to the Swinging Sixties

The overall effect of the fragrance, in olfactory terms, is that of a cool and lean incense that won’t go anorexic on you thanks to its perch on a warm, apple-bottom base (and here I mean this literally as well as metaphorically, as the base in Silver Factory has a whiff of baked-apple that reminds me of another sheer amber fragrance: Hermes Ambre Narguilé). Silver Factory is mostly linear but manages to be captivating in the same way that the infinity-view of Felicity Shagwell’s long legs is captivating; addicting in the way that the same sophomoric humor that runs through all of the Austin Powers movies is addicting (mostly, though I could certainly do without the toilet humor).

All in all, it’s a shiny, ’60s-style shimmy-and-shake of a fragrance which reminds one that incense can have a lot of faces (not unlike an Andy Warhol silkscreen). Sure, it is portrayed in some perfumes as cathedral-like and austere; in others, as smoky and sultry as a night in ancient Persia. Or it can be fashionably groovy and modern and fab and switched on and a bit of alright and…

Well, you know, baby. (Yeah, baby, yeah!)