Frankly, if you’re the kind of person who needs a perfume to express who you are … well, Sephora is on that side of the river, thank you very much.
— Perfumer Christopher Brosius of CB I Hate Perfume, quoted in The Invisible Scent at New York magazine.
Thanks, Robin. I wasn’t sure I understood the quote so I read the whole article – fascinating. I highly recommend it!
Ditto…I thought it was a really well-done profile.
Much of the article is devoted to his ambition to make an “invisible” perfume, which most people can not consciously smell.
Escentric Molecule 01.
Sort of an Emperor’s New Clothes kind of thing, eh?
LOL! That is exactly what I was thinking.
Not being a minimalist OR an existential perfume aficionado I just don’t get it.
In some sense, I get it. My ideal work day perfume is one which I can smell (because it gives me pleasure), one which does not announce itself from across the room, and one which will just have a sort of subliminal niceness for someone standing near me without them think, oh, she is wearing perfume and now I am smelling it. Sort of like wanting a very well tailored, well fitting suit or dress, rather than something that says, look I am fashionable.
On the other hand, If t really use something which can’t smell it, then how will I know if I have put too much on for others. Which is why I don’t have the Escentric Molecule 1 or or 2 series, and in fact, I thought CB actually had something similar in their line, for those who want that sort of thing.
Yes! This is the perfect description of what I’d like in an everyday work perfume as well. Let me know if you find it!
But if you can smell EM1, it smells very familiar! I would think CB would be after something entirely different.
I immediately thought of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille from Perfume: The Story of a Murderer when he started talking about creating an invisible perfume. That’s probably not the association Christopher Brosius was hoping for but there it is.
LOL! You never know, it might be…
Or I might just have a werd sense of humor, actually.
But on the subject of invisible perfumes, I don’t understand the desire, really. I like the perfumes I like because I like the way they smell. I don’t want to smell like something that doesn’t smell like anything if I’m putting it on for the scent itself. That makes no sense to me. I mentioned it to a friend (and sent her to the article) and her response was “think of it like a sheer blouse” (something else I don’t really see the point of/need for,) but a sheer blouse, however sheer, is still there, still detectible. If Brosius really is talking about an undetectable perfume, wouldn’t that be more like a blouse made out of that clear filament fishing line? (Yes, I am not an outdoorsman. That stuff could have an actual technical name.)
I always think of CB as having read that book to tatters.
I don’t get it, what does “that side of the river” mean?
I’ve just read the asrticle. what new perfume did he create then? the one that you can’t smell. is it called “Where We Are There Is No Here”?
Owen, his shop and workshop are located in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, so I’m guessing he was gesturing towards the East River and Manhattan.
For people outside of the NYC sphere,* about 25 years ago, Williamsburg was a neighborhood for tight ethnic communities and families. It has become a very chic neighborhood for Bohemian types. It is, as noted, separated by the East River, from Manhattan, which, because of the rise in real estate prices, is less and less a place for bohemian, artistic types.
* For those within the NYC sphere, not everyone in the Universe understands (nor cares) about the social nuances of NYC addresses.
lol, I hope that latter remark was directed at CB, not at me.
But yes, many people do see the Manhattan/Brooklyn boundary as a cultural/social divide, not just a geographical one. And Williamsburg is a (much-changed) world unto itself. I just didn’t want to bore anyone with my own thoughts on the topic.
Genius or NIHILIST? Maybe a bit of both, but it’s obvious someone broke this man’s heart and broke it bad once upon a time. How fitting that he’s based in Wililamsburg, world capital of joyless conceptual artists, hating infinitely.
PS: FYI, CB, L’Antimatière, Isabelle Doyen. It’s been done.
Brooklyn has bad yeshiva memories for me. Add in the hipsters and you won’t catch me stepping foot there. I like the other side of the river just fine, thanks!
I read the article and his manifesto. His snobbishness and blatant disdain for common folk really turn me off. In his manifesto, he says “People who smell like everyone else disgust me.” He should have grown out of that decades ago.
I should add that it WAS and interesting article.
Thanks for saying that. I was thinking it. Talent by itself is great. Talent plus maturity and humility – much rarer.
Gosh. But aren’t most of us snobby about perfume? I know I am. The remark probably sounds a bit “above it all” — I won’t deny it, although I thought it was sort of funny and many people here have taken it more seriously — but I think he does very interesting perfumes and is rightfully wanting to distinguish himself from brands that want to appeal to everybody.
And really this is not directed particularly at you, I was just surprised by all the negative reaction.
And will add…perhaps it is my fault, since I pulled that particular quote. Like I said, I thought it was funny. And I do shop at Sephora
Robin, I read the entire article and his manifesto. If you spoke to us the way CB does, few of us would read your blog I did not think that you were directing anything at us. You were just sharing an interesting article.
Oh, I am quite sure that’s true!
And I DID think that his remarks were HILARIOUS!!
Well written article – thanks for sharing.
So if we need a perfume to express ourselves that is a bad thing?
Unless we are using his perfumes, which from reading the article have NOTHING to do with self expression other than his own.
The article was fascinating and well written, thanks from providing the link!
This article reminded me of a product from Max Factor back in the late 80’s (which I actually bought) called Invisible Makeup. The idea was that it would make your skin look better (smoother, more even color), without looking as if you were wearing makeup.
That said, the Invisible Makeup made more sense to me than the invisible perfume. I don’t want subliminal perfume, I want something I can actually smell. Besides, with my perfume eating skin, regular perfume disappears fast enough. I almost suspect this “non-perfume” would have a negative longevity on me–i.e., I would have less scent with it on that without it.
Last year I bought a sample of CB’s “In the Library” for a friend, and he loved it. He sprayed (or dropped– I dunno, I’ve never seen the vials) on a card for me and sent in the mail, and it smells divine.
I do agree with CB’s Sephora statement. I bought the violet Bulgari scent last year and was unimpressed– it smells like every other oriental. Pure Grace is the only fragrance I’ve found that smells like me because is so unobtrusive. I have a hard time finding fragrances I like because they smell like everything else on the market, no matter how expensive they are.
Now I’m eager to try CB’s new “invisible scent.” I really need to explore the niche market, if only by samples.
I guess I just don’t understand the Sephora statement. To me, it is because most of the mainstream stuff (which is what Sephora sells, after all) smells alike that I don’t see how it could express who I am, since I am not just like everyone else.
I agree! I do love it, however, when someone wears a mainstream frag and it smells lovely and different. I have a friend who wears Daisy and it smells nothing like the Daisy I smell in the bottle.
I’m not sure either. It’s sort of out of context. I wonder if he was referring to using perfume to signal status or affiliation. Or just that self-expression isn’t the effect of perfume that he is most interested in. E.g., the impact of smelling Wet Dirt is the instant link to forgotten moments.
I actually first encountered his first brand Demeter AT Sephora.
I think he may have already left/sold Demeter by the time it was picked up by Sephora…? It was originally a very small niche brand, with only a few scents (Lavender, Geranium, etc., and then slightly later, Tomato Leaf, Dirt, Grass, etc.). I used to see the line at Henri Bendel in NYC, and then in arty little gift shops like one called 235 Elizabeth Street. Then it got much bigger.
Thanks so much for this link, Robin! LOVE this article – fascinating artistic trajectory – lots of insights. I feel that Demeter opened the door to a much broader idea of what a perfume could smell like. Would we have had the horse mane accord in Fougueuse or would L’AP have allowed Duchaufour to create his profoundly weird and beautiful perfumes before Wet Dirt? I may or may not want to wear the invisible perfume, but I’m looking forward to where CB’s questions and answers may lead next.
I guess I’m wondering if I should expect anything different from someone who names their company “I Hate Perfume.” And yet, if he alienates the perfumistas of the world, who will he sell his product too?
I think perfume that cannot be smelled sounds as meaningless as a dog whistle orchestra. Who cares if the dogs can hear beautiful music, the consumers of art are the judges of art, and my dog licks his own. . .well, you get the idea.
urm. . .*product TO,* or better yet, *TO WHOM will he sell his product?* ;0
I’m not really familiar with his company, but have always assumed that its target market is not perfumistas but people who grew up hating Poison and Giorgio and Opium etc, and/or whose mothers wore too much Youth Dew.
Perhaps the thought is that there could be more money to be made by snaring new consumers than trying to detach current perfume consumers away from their favourite brands.
Interesting article. I now understand why I consistently use the words “overrated” and “pretentious” when I describe his perfumes.
Lol – I don’t mind his perfumes but I’m not especially interested. I do recall being jumped all over when I once voiced an opinion (several years ago) on mua’s fragrance board that some of CB’s statements seemed pretentious. Yikes – I never voiced that opinion again. He may be perfectly nice, but I stand by previous comment – some of his statements *are* pretentious. Or at least the way he is quoted comes across that way!
maybe i’m not bourgeois enough to understand… whenever I want to smell like I’m wearing invisible perfume, I just don’t put any on.
And if I want to smell like a clean man’s anus, I just put my fingers down the back of my pants, then dab.