Mary Tutwiler

Making scents of New Orleans

by Mary Tutwiler

Rain on tile rooftops. The taste of cafe au lait. The jingle of the street car as it rattles down St. Charles Avenue. The blanket of humidity that envelopes you when you walk out the door. Which of our senses triggers memory most?

We are first of all animals, who once depended on our sense of smell to tell us what food was safe to eat. Even now, evolved into beings who depend for the most part on our sense of sight to tell us what is what, scent can turn our heads and fire us deep into the past.

Knowing how to evoke sensation is the art of the perfumer, and now a new scent by Laurice Rahme, creator of New York perfume house Bond No. 9, had been created to capture the scent of New Orleans. Rahme has largely focused on New York City, painting the fragrance of neighborhoods like Park Ave., West Side, Central Park, and lately Andy Warhol. Last year, according to the Times Picayune, Rahme had been promoting her Big Apple allure at Saks Fifth Ave. in Canal Place, when store employees asked her to design a scent for New Orleans. Rahme’s first perfumes were created to help heal New York after 9/11. How could she refuse.

So what’s it smell like? Times Picayune fashion editor Susan Langenhennig got a whiff:
The fragrance is a bold, gutsy, evening scent that brings to mind black velvet cocktail dresses, rich Reveillon meals and crepuscule rendezvouses. The base notes are cinnamon and sandalwood, while the top notes are tuberose, violet leaf, cassis and vanilla.

“I like to develop fragrances for people who like strong flavors, and New Orleans loves strong flavors, strong food, strong music, “ Rahme, told Langenhennig. “I developed something that I think is a very powerful fragrance, a little bit over the top, just like New Orleans.”
Rahme will debut her perfume at Saks in Canal Place, New Orleans, on Friday from 2 to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.