One of my favorite things in the shop right now is a very special collection of scents by the Brooklyn-based perfumer, Christopher Brosius. For the uninitiated, the name of Brosius's company, CB I Hate Perfume, often evokes a laugh. It's a counter-intuitive brand name for a fragrance maker, but the backstory is brilliant.
In the 80s Brosius was a cab driver, and as the story goes, he hated the scents worn by his passengers: cloying confections that assaulted his senses and made his head pound. Makers of mass-market fragrance have always relied on sex appeal to sell their products, and commercials for the best-selling scents of that decade are a case in point: YSL's Opium, Dior's Poison, and Calvin Klein's Obsession.
Thirty years after they were shot, the ads are a fascinating, even compelling, time capsule filled with '80s hedonism. But it's not hard to imagine how brash fragrances like these are far less sexy when they're up close and personal. As a refreshing counterpoint, scents conceived by Brosius are deeply personal and sublime. They're not devoid of sex appeal, but the ethos of CB I Hate Perfume is the pleasure of scent as an act of self expression. Please yourself. Be yourself. Don't worry about the crowd!
How Brosius went from cab driver to award-winning perfumer, without going to an elite school in France, is covered in detail in his bio. His life story is an inspiring read, but the really critical thing to understand is his viewpoint on why you actually shouldn't hate perfume—and why you might even decide to wear it.
There are two formats to choose from: 15 ml perfume absolutes and 100 ml water perfumes. The absolutes are the most concentrated, oil-based versions of the scent, designed to be worn on pulse points. The water perfumes are lighter concentrations, wonderful worn on the body, but also great spritzed on clothing. (I love a hint of a water perfume on a scarf!)
While I find it impossible to pick a definitive scent from the Brosius oeuvre, I do have my favorites, and I'm always excited to see which among the eight offerings at Future Nostalgia appeal most to my customers. Today, I'm mesmerized by the absolute form of Memory of Kindness: "The shining green scent of tomato vines growing in the fresh earth of a country garden." In his story about the perfume, Brosius describes crawling into a vast jungle of tomato vines as a small boy, and how the smell of the fuzzy leaves, coupled with the sun on his face and the damp earth under his knees shimmered around him "like a cloud of butterflies." Looking back, he describes it as the moment when he first discovered the pleasure of scent.
Whether you're a fan of fragrance looking for something new, or someone who like Brosius in the 80s has felt overwhelmed by heavy-handed formulations, I hope your experience exploring CB I Hate Perfume will shift your perception.
In addition to Memory of Kindness, I have seven other scents for you to explore:
Greenbriar 1968 (Absolute) $110: Blended with Sawdust, Fresh Cut Hay, Worn Leather Work Gloves, Pipe Tobacco and a healthy amount of Dirt. There is also a faint whiff of cotton overalls covered in Axel Grease.
In the Library (Absolute) $100: In the Library is a warm blend of English Novel, Russian and Moroccan Leather Bindings, Worn Cloth and a hint of Wood Polish.
Under the Arbor (Absolute) $110: This is the scent of Crushed Grape Leaves, Weathered Wood, Green Moss and Cool Earth.
M3 November (Absolute) $125: Pumpkin Pie, Fallen Apples, Bonfire, Wood Smoke, Dried Grass, Fallen Leaves, Wet Branches, Damp Moss, Chanterelle Mushrooms and a hint of Pine Forest
At the Beach (Water Perfume) $55: The prime note in this scent is Coppertone 1967 blended with a new accord created especially for this perfume—North Atlantic. The base of the scent contains a bit of wet sand, seashell, driftwood and just a hint of boardwalk. The effect when you wear At The Beach is as if you’ve been swimming all day in the ocean.
In the Summer Kitchen (Water Perfume) $50: Fresh garden vegetables and herbs on a clear summer evening with a touch of smoked old wooden rafters
Outside (Water Perfume) $65: Lavender, Geranium, Patchouli, Cedarwood, Bergamot and a touch of Oregano.
Walking in the Air (Water Perfume) $50: The smell of freshly fallen snow.