Just a week ago, I was lamenting the never-ending wave of pink-colored, pink-smelling, pink-themed fragrances. This one, however, is a very different take on pink. Pink Haze is the newest release from House of Cherry Bomb, the collaboration between New York-based independent perfumers Alexis Karl (of Scent by Alexis) and Maria McElroy (of Aroma M), and this fragrance is designed to evoke "the scent of tree-lined Brooklyn streets, of stone buildings, both old and new, and of the hot metal of subway cars. It is the heady yet ephemeral scent of gardens blooming with lily of the valley, gardenia, lilac and honeysuckle on early summer nights...equal parts classic and new, as is this city we live in." In addition to those four florals, it includes notes of stone, metal and beeswax absolute.
Like House of Cherry Bomb's Cardamom Rose and Tobacco Cognac, Pink Haze cleverly paints an entire scene using relatively few elements. It opens with the stone and metal notes. They are cool and slightly chilly, and surprisingly realistic, evoking rain-damp sidewalks and shady stone stoops. After about twenty minutes, however, the entire tone of the fragrance changes. There's an unexpected shift from mineral to floral notes, as if you had just walked down a cobblestoned alley between towering warehouses and found yourself entering a hidden private garden. The green-tinged lily of the valley and the soapy-powdery lilac are most noticeable, so it must be a spring garden; I think I can also catch a breath of freesia in the mix. The honeysuckle and beeswax emerge later, like a premonition of summer, and add some warmth. Pink Haze has light sillage, and its staying power is somewhat brief for an Eau de Parfum.
New York is, for the most part, a place of granite and steel, of towers and tunnels and bridges. Yet it's also a city of many flowering oases, from "official" public gardens like the West Village's intimate Jefferson Market Garden and the elegant Conservatory Garden in uptown Manhattan to the expansive botanical gardens in the Bronx and Brooklyn to the countless small backyard gardens and community gardens that bloom throughout the five boroughs. Stumbling upon a tiny "pocket park" or a spying a private yard through a gate is one of the everyday pleasures of life in the city, and I don't think anyone has evoked this image for me through perfume before.
Pink Haze is accompanied by a short video that nicely conveys the weirdly glamorous grit of Brooklyn's DUMBO neighborhood — that is, the area "down under the Manhattan Bridge overpass." Now that Brooklyn has become a national, if not an international, "brand" (check out this 2013 story in The New York Times), it's a good time to acknowledge the artists and businesses that have been operating out of Brooklyn since long before its recent revival. I'm glad that the Cherry Bomb ladies are blowing this olfactory kiss to the place that shelters and inspires them.
House of Cherry Bomb Pink Haze is available as 30 ml Eau de Parfum ($75). For buying information, see House of Cherry Bomb under Perfume Houses.
[Ed. note: Pink Haze is one of a number of indie perfumes developed to celebrate the 3rd Anniversary of the Facebook group Peace Love Perfume, founded by Carlos J Powell.]