Thursday, September 4, 2008
I hate perfume.
The above is not true. Not exactly. I love the IDEA of perfume. I also love people with a signature scent. You know those people who, though it's not immediately apparent, you just identify by a certain pleasant smell?
It's such a seemingly simple thing, but whew, complexity abounds. How do they do it? First, picking the right perfume is no easy task. You can't wear anything popular. To this day I can't smell Chanel Chance without being whisked away to Christmas years ago when my mom bought it for me as a present. When you can immediately identify the perfume by smell, that's a bad thing.
An even more skillful task is application. How do these people always manage to slightly give off the faintest scent without either layering the perfume to headache-inducing levels or applying it so softly the smell is gone in an hour?
Lately I've been wearing Marc Jacobs's perfume, but I've never gotten any compliments on it. I love the way it smells, but it wears off in half an hour and it's much better to be scentless than nauseating.
When I heard about CB I Hate Perfume by Christopher Brosius, it sounded too good to be true. His scents are supposed to invoke a memory, a time, or a place. With such oddities as "In the Library" and "Burning Leaves", the decidedly unfeminine (unisex) nature of his concoctions piqued my interest. Flowers and citrus are nice, of course, but how AMAZING would it be to remind people of "Winter 1972", one of his other fragrances?
I tried to find his perfumes in stores, but finally decided to just order a bunch of samples. I decided on "In the Library", "I am a dandelion", "Mr Hulot's Holiday", "At the Beach 1966", "Black March" and "To See a Flower". They are ALL SO GOOD.
I thought "In the Library" might be a good idea gone terribly wrong. The reviews of the fragrance are decidedly ambivalent, with some people thinking it "smells true to name, but why would you want to smell like a library?" or "smells like no library I've ever experienced". I can understand the first sentiment. I personally love that slightly sour smell of old books, but I also love the smell of skunk, so my sensibilities aren't the most mainstream (I'd tell you to take my advice on these perfumes with a grain of salt, but they've received acclaim from many others). It's actually a very pleasant fragrance, slightly vanilla but still clean. It has this...old, familiar quality. There's a bit of leather and wood polish, but not in a disgusting way. The thing about his scents that I love is that they are so NATURAL. I hate artificial smells, which is why Bath and Body Works isn't my favorite store in the world. But these? These are surprisingly authentic.
"Mr Hulot's Holiday" and "At the Beach 1966" are good if you like beachy scents. They're less coconut and more seawater and driftwood. "Mr Hulot's Holiday" is especially nice. It really reminds me of the mediterranean and that strange mix of smells you associate with the beach that you can't exactly pinpoint. I don't think I'm a good perfume reviewer. I can't tell you what notes come out on top. "At the Beach 1966" has a hint of coppertone, so they say.
"I am a dandelion" and "To See a Flower" are very clean floral scents. It's not like smelling a flowery perfume, it's like smelling a real live flower. They keep their authenticity by also smelling slightly leafy.
"Black March" is another one of those that smells amazingly realistic but might convey something not exactly wearable. This time it's the smell of mossy wet forests, dirt, twigs and mushrooms. That sounds like a disgusting male cologne, but it doesn't "convey" wet forest, it smells like a real, live goddamn forest after a rainfall. I guess that's not a conventional smell to attach to a person, but is there anything better than the smell of fresh rain?
I reeeally love these perfumes. I highly recommend researching one you're intrigued by (try NowSmellThis or Makeupalley) and ordering a 2 oz. sample for $12 or $13 from the CB I Hate Perfume website. These perfumes are fairly popular in the blogosphere, but I don't hear much about them in the mainstream. And you know, scents smell differently on different people. The subtlety of these makes it seem like they really would interact with your natural smell rather than overwhelm the world with homogenity.
Just don't spread the secret around, because the key to having your own unique fragrance is to keep it a mystery.