People who follow the goings on at Guerlain may have noticed the discontinuation of their Voyage Olfactif Series, the one that included Tokyo, Moscow, London, New York and Shanghai. Presumably they did not sell too well and that probably explains their demise. I did like the idea which seemed to be a light edt concentration very wearable in daytime. They had a clever concept too which was to combine a distinctive smell of each city with an indigenous food fragrance. Tokyo- which I own- smells of cherry blossoms and green tea with a little cypress wood thrown in- no wasabi here. London smells of hard candies and rhubarb, Moscow is sweet with plums and jasmine. One of the series was Christmas themed though:New York. I have been sitting with my sample of New York for a day or two and thinking that the formula reminds me of something and I know what, an Aqua Allegoria called Winter Delice. This is a big improvement on the original. New York is lighter, more delicate, and more skin friendly than WD, but I still can sense a vanilla/conifer conjunction. The notes insist that what I am picking up is a far milder cedarwood/vanilla and cardamom blend, but the idea is Manhattan at Christmas time. You recognize it if you’ve been there: the lines around the block at Macy’s and Saks’s, SRO conditions around Rockefeller Center, the lights, the tourists, the street meats, the fir trees. Basically the whole confusing crowd scene of Manhattan in December.
When this first came out I didn’t pay much attention. I was distracted by all the other perfumes released that year, and did not really make distinctions amongst this little series of Guerlain’s Now that they are disappearing, I’ve had a bit of time to revisit them at the local Guerlain counter and find that New York is- with Tokyo- the best of the bunch.
It may not be for those who appreciate strong perfumes. As I’ve noted about this subset, the idea seems to have been light daytime fragrance for wearing basically anywhere. Since you have got so many places that are currently inimical to perfume, light is a useful strength.
Anyway New York begins with that wonderful signature Guerlain bergamot, still to be smelled here and is faintly reminiscent of Shalimar or Mouchoir de Monsieur, and then the perfume becomes more contemporary with a strong rich cedarwood note, and maybe just a smidgen of Fir. I think I smell a trace of smoke in here too. It’s enough to remind me of Manhattan Christmas Pasts with chestnuts being roasted (ie burned) on braziers and sold in finger singeing paper cones near Grand Central. Then the scent turns its spicy side, giving you that cardamom and some cinnamon. Finally New York is powdery and delicately vanillic.
This scent reminds me of fur coats on Park Avenue. Probably it reminds me of perfumed fur coats but never mind, I do smell New York at Christmas here, distinctly wintry but subtle. You are not walking about as a diorama of NYC around about yuletide, rather you are projecting an atmosphere, faintly retro, of New York during the holidays. This is sophisticated, it’s soft, and hazy enough to be unobtrusive. If Manhattan smelled like this all the time, I’d go in a lot more frequently.