Christopher Brosius, the "CB" behind CB I Hate Perfume, calls his perfumery's headquarters and storefront a "gallery." Located a few blocks away from the busy main shopping strips of Brooklyn's Williamsburg neighborhood, the store does feel as much like a gallery, a studio, or a workshop as a retail venue. It's a former industrial space that now looks half-loft, half-garage, decorated in a minimal, monochromatic scheme with little visual detail to distract you from experiencing CB I Hate Perfume's fragrances.
And there are many, many fragrances indeed, with testers arranged by category in white box-like shelving units. In the "Perfume" category, you'll find six series of fragrances with abstract designations such as "Archetype" and "Metamorphosis." Some of them are inspired by Brosius's childhood memories and his favorite works of literature and film, and others are his reworkings of classic concepts in perfumery (musk, rose, etc.). The Perfumes are available as perfume absolutes and cologne-like "water perfumes." The next category includes fourteen series of Accords, from "fruit" and "flower" to "smoke" and "skin." These oils, individually bottled and packaged at the time of purchase, are meant to be enjoyed singly or layered in your own combinations. A selection of the most popular scents in this line are also offered as double-strength Premium Accords. There are also home fragrance sprays and anti-moth wardrobe sprays, as well as Brosius's version of a celebrity fragrance: 2nd Cumming, a collaboration with actor Alan Cumming (all profits donated to charity).
In his written "Manifesto," Brosius states, "Perfume is an art that shows us who we can be if we dare – an invisible portrait of who we are." You can read a copy of the "Manifesto" at the boutique; actually, you can do quite a bit of reading, if you wish. A large notebook holds descriptions and "stories" for all the Perfumes, and many of the shelf labels include scent-related quotations gathered from everybody from Shakespeare and George Sand to Groucho Marx and classic fairy tales.
When you're finally ready to sample a few Perfumes and Accords on your skin, you'll need to ask for assistance. CB I Hate Perfume's staff members work in an office space just behind the main area of the shop, busily labeling and packaging various bottles; once you get their attention, they are quite helpful and informative. You may even spy CB himself.
Best seller: At the Beach 1966
Not to be missed: the "Chemical" category of bottled Accords, including Doll Head, Lipstick, and Rubber Cement
Details: CB I Hate Perfume,
93 Wythe Avenue,* Brooklyn, NY 11211, (718) 384-6890; website.
— report and images filed by Jessica M.
See also: Perfume Stores in New York City
* Update: in 2014, CB I Hate Perfume moved to 318 Maujer Street, 3rd Floor in Brooklyn. Check the store's website for hours.