I love perfume, and I hate perfume. I love the idea of capturing the scent of a flower and being able to carry it around in your pocket. I am fascinated by the art and history behind perfume. I love the idea of having a personal scent that people associate with you. But too often, I do not like the reality of perfume. With most perfumes, I am disappointed that the scent doesn't live up to its fanciful name and description. Many times I am left with a pounding headache from over-powering, musky colognes or cloyingly sweet florals. One encounter with a spray-happy employee at Sephora and I'm ready to swear off scent forever.
Enter CB I Hate Perfume.
Christopher Brosius created his line of perfumes as a response to many of the (horrible) mass market perfumes available. He recognized the powerful and personal role scent plays in our lives, how it can evoke memories and transport us back to a specific place or time.
As he puts it in this interview:
“In terms of how my perfumes smell they are often not at all what people expect when they pick up a bottle and smell it. The world has become conditioned to expect a number of qualities from perfume: it’s pretty, it’s abstract, it’s sexy…God knows what that means…but my perfumes actually smell like real things, real places, real experiences."
CB has a huge selection of what they call "single accords"- scents that capture one very specific smell- everything from soaked earth to crayons or roast beef. Though you might not want to smell like roast beef, being able to smell it perfectly captured in a bottle is a wondrous and magical experience- I was instantly reminded of my Grandma's kitchen at Christmas. I have a bottle of Ginger Ale accord, which not only captures the scent, but also somehow the effervescent nose-tickling fizziness of soda.
In addition to the single accords, Brosius has developed a collection of ready to wear perfumes (which happen to be some of my favorite perfumes ever). Each perfume has a story behind it; they are all based on a specific place or memory. My personal favorite is Russian Caravan Tea, which is described as "smoked black Indian tea, bergamot and the hint of shelves full of old books". One sniff and you'll be longing to curl up in the library with a big cup of Earl Grey. I also love At the Beach 1966, which perfectly captures the scent of spending a day at the beach- including the Coppertone sunscreen. My husband's favorite is Winter 1972, which is masculine without any of that heavy Drakkar Noir-esque scent I usually associate with cologne (and hate). Rather, it conjures up "a field of untouched new fallen snow, hand knit woolen mittens covered with frost, a hint of frozen forest & sleeping earth". The description may sound a bit over the top, but it really does smell like all that, and I absolutely love the scent.
A selection of Brosius' perfumes are available on his website, though you'll have to visit the gallery for all the individual accords. If you are ever in Brooklyn, I highly recommend a visit to his gallery- the selection of scents is truly astonishing. Even if you are not normally a fan of perfume, you can easily spend an hour there experiencing the magic of all the scents. Plus, he doesn't use any of the chemicals that turn many people off perfume, and none of his scents have given me a headache so far.
CB I Hate Perfume just celebrated it's 10th anniversary with a limited edition box containing the full collection of Brosius' perfumes. If you've got an extra $6500 to burn, how fun would it be to own such a wide range of scents?! My ultimate perfume dream is to commission a custom scent from him though. I don't even know what that costs (I'm guessing not cheap), but whatever it is, I'm sure its worth it. A custom scent blended just for you, that no one else on Earth will ever have- ultimate luxury! While I'm saving my pennies, I'll be dreaming of what kind of a scent I would choose...
[Perfume bottle photo via The President Wears Prada, Brosius photo from Interview Magazine, Perfume photo via CB I Hate Perfume, Gallery photo via Humans Invent]