Punk & Non-Conformist Perfume Rebel.
The man behind the “CB I Hate Perfume” Gallery & laboratory in Williamsburg (Brooklyn) is a rebel at heart. Christopher Brosius, a self-taught perfumer, is not the kind of man that follows trends nor obeys to any rules dictated by the mainstream commercial perfume industry. In an era where loud & aggressive perfumes are the (omnipresent) norm and big brands bombard us with the same old message that everything has to smell as “clean” as possible, Brosius in the meanwhile is gaining a large group of cult followers with his concoctions of unusual scents. According to him great fragrances are the ones that harmonize with a person’s natural odour.
To put his nonconformist philosophy in few words, the first paragraph of his manifesto (published on his website) says it all:
“I hate perfume.
Perfume is too often an ethereal corset trapping everyone in the same unnatural shape.
A lazy and inelegant concession to fashionable ego.
Too often a substitute for true allure and style.
An opaque shell concealing everything – revealing nothing.
A childish masque hiding the timid and unimaginative.
An arrogant slap in the face from across the room.
People who smell like everyone else disgust me.”
But it is not only the disgust for the mainstream commercialization of “smell” that has cast a light on his work & persona. Brosius has understood from an early age on how smell impacts our human memory and consciousness. Many of his childhood memories (the smell of wet pavement, dirt, sunblock) turned out to be the main inspiration for the creation of his scents. His daring explorations have opened doors to the aficionado who doesn’t just want to smell good (or maybe even be associated to a brand) but wants to enjoy the art of perfumery on different levels.
As Brosius has said “everything we think or feel is generated from the ancient ability to smell.” He doesn’t just aim for you to smell good, but his role is more like a perfume mercenary whose purpose it is to help you lure into your sub-consciousness to substract forgotten emotions. His smells detonate in ones memory, connecting you with forgotten moments and experiences, places, people and stories.
This is a total change in how we think about perfume, adding another layer in which stories come to life and exact experiences are captured.
The nostalgia that runs through his creations is clearly reflected in the election of names for his perfumes: “In the Library” (nostalgic scent of books), “Winter 1972”, “At the Beach 1966”, “Coppertone 1967”, or “In the Summer Kitchen.”
But probably one of his most daring challenges has been the creation of an “invisible” perfume that only certain people can smell, “Where We Are There Is No Here”, a jasmine-based scent inspired by the filmmaker Jean Cocteau. Although the ingredients of the perfume are quite powerful, people might turn out to be unsure if you wear a fragrance or it is just the way you smell.
His work method has remained traditional throughout the years. He designs all the perfumes himself and each is carefully compounded, blended and bottled by hand in his workshop. There is no mass-produce and no advertisement.
So maybe in our next elevator or taxi ride we will be leaving behind traces of our invisible selves for others to be recognized or not. To perfume or not to perfume?
And maybe more importantly: which scent will bring you back to your childhood memories?