Capturing the Essence of Sag Harbor


sil Hamptons

By Emily J Weitz

Sag Harbor has a little version of everything, and it’s always the best. The best little Italian restaurant, the best little book store, the best little cheese shop, the best little 5 and 10. But one thing this village has not had is a perfumery. And while at first thought it might not seem like something every town must have, when you speak to Laurice Rahme, founder and president of Bond No. 9, you might decide that, in fact, a perfumery is essential.

Rahme approaches the perfume business from an artistic standpoint. Born in France, she studied art history at the Louvre. But she wanted to see the world, and she explains that “At that time one job you could get as a young girl in Paris who wanted to travel was in the beauty industry.”

She started working for Lancome in the international department 30 years ago.

“When you’re traveling,” she said last week, “you train your senses. Art history trains your eye, and once you’ve trained one sense you need to train another.”

Rahme wasn’t working on fragrances for Lancome. At the time, she was working in mostly skin care.

“But I got into fragrances because it’s more artistic, more creative, more romantic,” she said.

Even though Rahme was raised in what is often considered the beauty capital of the world, she was drawn to New York. When she speaks of the city, it’s with the sense of awe and admiration. So when she decided to start her own perfume line in 2003, it became an ode to New York.

Bond No. 9, named after the address of their Manhattan headquarters, seeks to “capture the spirit of each neighborhood,” says Rahme. “The soul. Every neighborhood is different. So it’s interesting creatively.”

With her well-trained nose, Rahme steps out into a neighborhood and breathes it in.

“If I go from Harlem to Wall Street, it’s easy to know what the neighborhood wants. I can smell it,” she says. “When you smell [each scent] it transports you to the neighborhood. Everybody has a favorite part of New York. They want so much from New York.”

And with the 43 different fragrances she’s created in honor of a wide spectrum of New York locales, Rahme hopes to give people that little essence of the city that they can carry with them everywhere they go.

Rahme concocts her perfumes like a chef mixing a dash of cinnamon here, a hint of vanilla there. Then she sends her recipes out to her chemists, who put together the precisely measured ingredients. If late night jazz clubs are your style, the New Haarlem scent with its coffee, vanilla, and patchouli notes might suit your needs. West Broadway wafts lime, lily of the valley, and sheer musk. Park Avenue, with its “discreet good taste” has hints of chamomile, paperwhite, and vanilla.

She branched out into the beaches a few years ago. Just as city-dwellers flee the heat of Manhattan in the summer months, Rahme felt her scents needed a break from the busy city. She started with the Hamptons scent, which combines lime blossom, bergamot, white jasmine, magnolia, amber, and sandalwood. Fire Island, Coney Island, and Montauk were close behind. But now in the works is Rahme’s next potion: Sag Harbor.

“Sag Harbor is my favorite Hampton,” she says. “I would not have my shop in any other town. It reminds me of Brittany in France — quaint, charming and relaxing. I’m working on a Sag Harbor scent [out next year] and it will be woody and marine.”

She says it’s inspired by her many walks down Long Wharf.

Until last year, Bond No. 9 served its loyal clientele from Saks Fifth Avenue in Southampton. But when it closed over the winter, Rahme had to adapt.

“When I heard the American Hotel shop was going to be available, I told the owner I wanted it. Who wouldn’t want to be in the American Hotel,” she wondered.

Bond No. 9 already had five locations around the city, so this became the sixth shop devoted solely to Rahme’s perfumes.

“I had already decided to work on a Sag Harbor scent,” she said. “So this year we started the store and we’ll have the new scent by next Memorial Day.”

After traveling the world, Rahme is thrilled to be in Sag Harbor. She loves the European feel, and the quaint village.

“We want to be a neighborhood store,” she said. “I am only having local people work here. The contractor, everyone. I want to keep the community in what we do.”

To this end, there will be an official launch party open to the public on Saturday, June 18, from 6 to 9 p.m.

“I always loved Sag Harbor,” says Rahme. “It has the most culture in the Hamptons. For such a little village to have a theatre and cinema… I am very excited to say that now it has its own perfumer and will have its own perfume.”