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Arts & Life
Sun November 13, 2011
Mmm, Is That Roast Beef You Smell? No, It's Perfume
Would you wear a perfume that made you smell like "A Day at the Beach?" How about "Baby's Butt?" If so, scent inventor Christopher Brosius can help. His Brooklyn boutique is at the vanguard of the anti-perfume movement, as you might suspect by its name: I Hate Perfume.
"I'm not out to sell millions of bottles," Brosius tells weekends on All Things Considered guest host Jacki Lyden. "My work is really about things that really do smell wonderful, but don't have a lot of the properties that commercial perfumes do."
Brosius has been creating perfumes independently since 1992, when he made his first scent for himself. It got lots of compliments like, "Why do you smell so good?" but it took 135 variations to get it just right. Now he sells "a much more refined, sophisticated version" of that scent, called CB93 — after himself, of course.
"It was my interpretation of what the very first, original eau de cologne was designed to do," he says. "Something that smelled very fresh, very clean, but was good for the skin and very calming and relaxing at the same time."
Brosius' current collection of perfumes is diverse and eclectic. "Memory of Kindness" smells of tomato vines and was inspired by a childhood memory. The celebrity-inspired "2nd (Alan) Cumming" is, like all Brosius' scents, unisex. "I let people choose what they want," he says.
A perfume that smells like roast beef gets some of the most comments. "Food scents are incredibly tough," Brosius says. "When it was finished, I thought, 'Oh my god, this is exactly what I had in mind. But who in their right mind wants to smell this way?'"
Very few people, as it turns out. Only three so far. "I'm the first to admit that it is not a scent for everybody," he says.
In contrast, his most popular scent is called "In the Library." It smells like old, dusty books.
"'Oh wow, you smell terrific' is really the best kind of compliment," Brosius says. If that comes from someone close to you, he says, "My mission is done."