29 December 2011

In the Library Perfume

Christopher Brosius is a genius.

Back in November we heard a story on NPR about Christopher Brosius, a perfumier in Brooklyn with a shop called CB I Hate Perfume, who makes a scent called "In the Library". According to Brosius in that interview "In the Library" smells just like a library. Being the perceptive gent he is, John took mental note, and lo and behold "In the Library" was under the tree this Christmas.

Let me say I quite like "In the Library", but I wasn't so sure it smelled much like a library. Based on the radio interview I was expecting something quite literal. When I first smelled it I thought it was rather powdery. After I wore it for a while, not only did I find that I liked it in general, but it does kind of remind one of a library. I can't quite explain it, but there is something about it that is libraryish. Albeit one with lots of Moroccan leather bindings.

When ordering "In the Library" John noticed they had one called "A Room With A View". Again being the perceptive gent that he is John got me a small vial of "A Room With A View" as well. Redolent of violets and the Tuscan earth, it takes its cue from the scene in the book where George Emerson first kisses Lucy Honeychurch in a  field of violets outside of Florence. The violets are absent in the film version but if you have seen the wonderful Merchant Ivory film, you know exactly which scene I refer to. And let me tell you the scent version of "A Room With A View" is a revelation. Yes it smells like violets, but it also has an earthy and grassy quality that makes it so much nicer and more complex than any violet perfume you have ever smelled before.

Alan Cumming
John also got me "The 2nd Alan Cumming" which was created for the perfumier's friend actor Alan Cumming. Proceeds from this one go to charity. It is masculine, just a touch funky, and really, really good.

Also in the package was a spray that supposedly keeps the bugs away. Being winter I can't test that out right now, but it sure smells good. It reminds me of the early days of Aveda when they were doing a lot of personal aromas (or as they called them PureFumes).

CB I Hate Perfume has many other scents that sound absolutely fascinating. And based on what I have smelled so far they must be good. How about one called "At the Beach 1966" which has Coppertone as one of its base notes?!

The thing that is so wonderful about Brosius' work is that his scents tell a story, but the result is beautiful and beguiling rather than gimicky. In a world full of really bad, synthetic smelling scents, CB I Hate Perfume is like an olfactory oasis.


  1. How interesting! A few months ago, there was a BBC documentary series about the perfume industry on television (sadly it doesn't seem to be available on iPlayer now), and Christopher Brosius featured in it. His scents sounded intriguing and very worthwhile sampling, so it's great to hear your thoughts on them now.

  2. I received an In the Library room spray as a wedding gift and love it! I keep meaning to check out more of CB's scents... I'm particularly intrigued by "just breathe."

  3. What a great gift idea you've given me. I love the unique nature of each scent and the great labels which are simple.

  4. I've tried two of these scents...In the Library and the beach one. Both are very good. Library is a bit more masculine than what I am used to.

  5. Fantastic! Perfume and scents in general are really interesting to me. I read a great article in The New Yorker years ago that talked about what an art it is. Have you read Perfume by Patrick Suskind? It's pretty amazingly dark, but the perfume part of it was super interesting.

    Enjoy the scent! I hope to try to try some of these at some point.

  6. Karen: That sounds like an interesting documentary. Was it on TV or radio?

    Kerry: Just breathe does sound fascinating. I would love to go to the shop the next time I am in NYC.

    Kathleen: I think it is a gift-giver's paradise. Good stuff and it can't be found everywhere.

    Ti: It is masculine despite the initial powdery quality.

    Picky: I haven't read the Suskind. I will have to look out for it.

  7. yes he really is a genius. I have one of his, naughtily named, that after use makes you smell as if you've been in the forest by a campfire in the most elegant sort of way. I've noticed they work well with body oils...so if you can bare skipping a shower...well...

  8. Ah, my favortie 'perfume'! I love November and To See a Flower and A Room With a View and a bit of Gathering Apples over a single note ginger. Really, I haven't found a stinker in the bunch. And you can get many of them as samples at Lucky Scent so you can sniff before you commit. His scents are so, well, true that he's ruined me for other perfumes.

    It makes total sense to me that you would like CB. Which is odd since I don't actually know you, but there it is.

  9. I never ceased to be amazed at what is available "out there" that I've never heard of! At first, I thought you were joking, but now you've got me intrigued enough to seek out some samples.


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