New York perfumer Christopher Brosius hates perfume so much that he's infused the sentiment into the name of his own fragrance line, I Hate Perfume. If any industry begs for a contrarian voice, certainly it's the fragrance industry.
But of course he doesn't really hate perfume. If he did, he wouldn't have created the company in the first place, now approaching its 10th anniversary, or his Williamsburg boutique. "I don't really hate most perfumes. Most perfumes simply bore me to tears," he says. "There are those, however, that I do hate and those are the ones that are so overpowering as to make people physically ill, myself very much included. Frankly, any perfume that can do that ought to never be released."
After ten years, I Hate Perfume has gained a sizeable and loyal cult fanbase, eager to try out each new olfactive experiment. Brosius says the most successful of his scents, which are usually memory-based, is In the Library. "Having an intense passion for books, I find the smell of them to be both comforting and very exciting."
Even his more traditional scents are made to uncommon, exacting standards. Rare Flowers, for example, is literally made from rare flowers alone, without chemicals of any kind. It takes thousands of flowers — neroli, jasmine, narcissus, tuberose — to press enough oil concentrate for a small batch. "I've identified a group of aroma-chemicals that are most likely to trigger ill effects in myself and a great many other people. They're banned from my formulations."
Naturally, Brosius has a list of dos and don'ts that he operates on and wishes others would, too. Among them, "Never wear any perfume so that it's detectable beyond arm's reach. This is an insult to those around you. Also, never rely on wearing one single perfume for years on end. Exposure to exactly the same perfume day after dreary day will cause your brain to stop registering it. You'll wind up wearing more and more and more of it, and you'll wind up one of those atrocious old ladies who reek of some horrible fragrance. Always have a selection of at least three or four perfumes that you love and which reflect your various moods."
Brosius has created a box set to mark his first decade, during which he's exhibited in galleries and twice collaborated with Alan Cumming. Cloth-bound, numbered and signed, and made to resemble a coffee table book, The Box houses a complete collection of his perfumes to date. Like everything else at the perfumery, it is not for timid, costing $6,500 - $10,500. "The Box is the full-on complete CB I Hate Perfume experience up till now — and, because The Box is expandable, into the future as well. It really is an ultimate luxury for the serious collector."
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