Founder & CEO Of Bond No. 9 NY Laurice Rahmé On How 9/11 Inspired Her World-Renowned Parfumerie

laurice rahme bond no. 9 nyPhoto Credit: VITAL AGIBALOW for HENSEL

Though often overlooked, our sense of smell is one of the most evocative senses we possess; in fact, scientific research has proven that there is a direct link between our memories and scent. That's why, the mere hint of a slightly familiar fragrance can take you back to a strain of consciousness that had far passed or even to memories that were thought of as forgotten. This lesser-known fact did not go unnoticed by Founder and President of Bond No. 9 New York, Laurice Rahmé. Having started her company in 2003, Rahmé has since built her brand, developing it into one of the most luxurious parfumeries in the world, with boutiques in some of the most high-end shopping destinations in the country—such as the Miami Design District and of course, on New York City's Bond Street—and in the world. She even collaborates with two of the most celebrated and globally-recognized department stores, Harrods in the U.K. and Saks Fifth Avenue in the U.S., with exclusive fragrances and bottles. So, what makes Bond No. 9 New York—which happens to be my favorite perfume company—so special, and worth those jaw-dropping price points, upwards of $1,000 for a single bottle? (And if that seems like a lot, you should have a look at the brand's holiday gift offering, where the Swarovski Triple Decker collectibles are listed at a whopping $16,000 each). Here, I sit with Rahmé to discuss just that, as well as the brand's inception and next steps.

Swarovski Triple Decker

Photo Credit: Bond No. 9 New York

Tell me about Bond No. 9 in your own words. 

Bond No. 9 is owned and operated by women. Bond No. 9 is unique in maintaining its staunch independence. No corporate takeover for our brand! I treasure our expansive customer base and value the creative freedom to innovate and stretch the limits as an independent. Bond’s customer is always looking for new notes, non-conformist formulas and likes to be surprised by Bond’s new packaging concepts. Bond’s consumers have a great sense of uniqueness and by staying independent, Bond No. 9 will continue to deliver on this.

How and why did you come up with the Bond No. 9 NY brand? 

On September 11th, 2001, New Yorkers along with the rest of the country were tested in a way no one could have imagined. In the aftermath, communities came together and the unbreakable strength of a city was enforced. Fueled by a deep love for my home city, I wanted to celebrate NYC’s courage and creativity by being courageous and creative. Out of this desire to breathe new life back into the wounded city came the idea for Bond No. 9. We launched with a collection of women’s, men’s and unisex eaux de parfum in 2003. It was a big risk, but we followed our intuition and our desire to be different. We began creating fragrances to celebrate NYC’s neighborhoods and showcase the city’s unbreakable spirit. The mission was to restore artistry to perfumery and give a scent to each neighborhood.

There are so many luxury perfume brands on the market—what makes Bond No. 9 so special?

While each Bond No. 9 fragrance is unique, all share something in common with the city in which they were created: they have an edge. From the most audacious to the wittiest and most whimsical, they all convey a courage, a gutsiness, that captures the uncompromising spirit of this grand-scale, fast-paced, hard-working kaleidoscopic city. Going against the grain of most inauthentic/commercial fragrances is our idea to restore the grand art of authentic/artistic perfume blending. Bond No. 9 uses only high, 18-22 percent concentrations of pure eaux de parfums—the longlasting concentrations of the legendary vintage scents of the 1920s and 1930s. What’s more, each fragrance has been blended in New York, by hand-picked perfumers—some of the greatest names in the fragrance universe—who, like myself, have gravitated here to what has become the world capital of beauty and fragrance.

What is the story behind the perfumes' distinctive signature bottle shape and packaging? 

Bond No. 9’s iconic silhouette bottle is inspired by the feminine form. Each bottle is a work of art, a collector’s piece, setting Bond No. 9 apart from other perfume companies. Over the years, it [has become] very hard to find vintage perfume bottles. Bond No. 9 bottles are the alternative to vintage—men and women are collectors. Our packaging and our fragrances celebrate the uniqueness that is found in each neighborhood and the unique decorations on opaque paint, make them lasting collectibles. We like to say that we have collectors, not consumers!

Bond No. 9 New York Gold Coast perfume

Photo Credit: Bond No. 9 New York

How did New York inspire you so much to name all of your perfumes after NY-centric destinations/areas/streets? 

New York has incredible energy, like no other city. It’s always changing, always fresh and new, and all of us who live here feel that constant renewing, fast-paced forward-motion that sparks creativity. It’s those feelings that inform everything we do and why I chose NYC to be the focus of Bond’s geo-centric scents. Bond No. 9 is the first New York parfumerie to introduce civic scents inspired by NY-centric destinations and sensibilities. Bond’s best-selling Scent of PeaceFor Her and For Him—celebrates world peace. And Liberty Island honors freedom. Bond No. 9 is a proud sponsor of the United Nations Women for Peace Association and supports its mission via proceeds from the global sales of the brand’s best selling philanthropic fragrance, the Scent of Peace.

What are the most important factors to keep in mind when selecting a perfume? Is there a correct way and time to apply/spray perfume?

Fragrance is your signature and it is authentic to you. It should project confidence, like a beautiful outfit, and it is seductive, [enriching] one’s life. When selecting a perfume, look for fragrances that speak to you in a very personal way. At Bond No. 9, we don’t dictate, the nose knows!

Why did you decide to expand into other beauty items, like lipsticks, body creams and washes? 

Bond No. 9 has produced over 80 fragrances that encompass New York neighborhoods, beaches, places and also exclusive co-branded fragrance collections for Saks Fifth Avenue and Harrods department stores. We love expanding beyond perfumes to new and relevant categories. Besides candles, scented body lotions and creams, Bond No. 9 launched New York Refillable Lipsticks in families of Reds, Neutrals and Plum shades. [All are] vegan, cruelty-free, gluten-free [and] made in New York.

Bond No. 9 New York Swarovski Lipstick

Photo Credit: Bond No. 9 New York

What are your personal favorite Bond No. 9 NY perfumes and why? 

I love them all, but my favorite is the one I am currently working on!

What's next for Bond No. 9 NY and what can we expect from the brand, moving forward? 

We will continue to “scent” the entire island of Manhattan—there are a few hundred more neighborhoods to do…it will take us years. [Additionally,] always relevant and forward-thinking, Bond has put recycling and sustainability at the forefront for 2020 and beyond. We will announce new packaging and recycling and refill initiatives for Earth Day...stay tuned!

laurice rahme bond no. 9 nyPhoto Credit: VITAL AGIBALOW for HENSEL