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Thursday, August 31, 2006

CB I Hate Perfume. Secret History Series.

Review by Tom

I have to admit that I was bewildered by the number of perfumes at Christopher Brosius' site; I was momentarily overcome by the exact same problem I sometimes have at the video store. What should I choose? I decided to start off with the Secret History series, about which he writes "The perfumes in this collection all speak of single shining points of time in my own life.", from the descriptions, we have some shared history going on, so I thought I'd start here

At The Beach 1966 is written of as "The effect when you wear At The Beach 1966 is as if you’ve been swimming all day in the ocean.", with notes of "Coppertone 1967", and "North Atlantic". This means the dreaded aquatic. I'm not big on aquatics myself, since I feel that there's no real way to capture the essence of the ocean in a scent- or at least no-one has done it so far. The description of this scent I find almost eye-rolling as well, but I can forgive all of that, because the description is so very apt. Brilliantly, Brosius covers the fact that ocean smell is nigh unto impossible to pull off by covering it with the note of Coppertone and salty skin. I was really transported by this one: I was once again a 12 year old at the beach at Niantic, wet bathing suit at all. Of course, this scent makes for the most romanticized 12 year old in a wet bathing suit you can imagine, but since I am not 12, and not looking to [CheapShot] try to seduce R. Kelly [/CheapShot], I do not think that I will be getting a bottle of this one. But I do respect its beauty, and if there is someone who is looking for a simple, clean aquatic with great lasting power, then please click through and order.

Winter 1972 is described as "the blue frozen scent of fresh snow and silver stars" I have not idea what notes are in it, but it does smell, basically, blue and frozen, slightly ozonic, with the ghost of woods and grasses waiting for spring to be released. It's not quite as successful as a concept as the beachy one, but it is very nice.

Memory of Kindness is written of as his childhood memory of his Grandmothers garden, the tomato vines and loamy soil remembered as "a vast jungle of vines" with his child's eyes. I think this is the least ethereal and most interesting of the scents (well, maybe I just like it the best): the brightness of the peppery greens and the slight muskiness of the sun-warmed earth are both immediately apparent and absolutely perfect, managing to be allusive yet not obtrusive.

As much as I respect the achievement, I don't think that I'd actually seriously wear any of these. They are interesting, exceedingly well done, and even evocative in a way that's so shockingly personal I almost feel as if I had an intimate relationship with this man. I can see these being the ultimate comfort scent: if I was ever seriously depressed, these memories of perfect childhood would perk me up better than Atavan...

Like all of his scents, these are available at his website for $60 for the Absolute (oil) and $60 for the Water Perfume (spray). While these three are not going to be full-bottle purchases anytime soon, I will be revisiting him to test his others and urge you all to do the same. Brilliance always deserves to be rewarded.


Blogger katiedid said...

Oh yay! I'm so glad you found the Beach one to be so intriguing and wonderful, Tom! Nice to see I'm not just crazy in thinking it's such a nice piece, even if it's not quite something either one of us would wear.

I've not tried the other two you mention. The ozonic quality you mention in Winter is something I worried about, and sounds like I might not dig it as much as Beach - thanks :)

Have to try Memory now, based soley upon your perception of it. Wow. That sounds fantastic.

12:53 AM EDT  
Blogger elle said...

Wonderful reviews! I actually love his scents most when I layer them (except for Violet Empire and Patchouli Empire, which are perfection on their own). Memory of Kindness is heaven layered w/ the earthiness of Black March. My second fav layering scent for Black March is Winter 72. I think he excells at smoke and leather accords (sadly, not all available on the web site). The layering combo of his Bonfire and Apple accords w/ Gingerbread makes me swoon - like being able to mainline the scent of fall.

7:37 AM EDT  
Blogger lilybp said...

Great reviews. I don't like beach scents, but At the Beach is the best I've smelled. I like the other two, but I only have them in samples. Like Elle, I think they layer well with Black March (which I can also wear on its own). But my favorite scent for layering with BM is Burning Leaves (their idea when I noted I liked both of these); we'll see what Marina thinks tomorrow:)

8:04 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Thank you very much for the great reviews! Of the three, Memory of Kindness sounds like the most wearable fom me. In fact, it sounds very appealing!

8:26 AM EDT  
Blogger marchlion said...

Tom -- unwearable?!?!?! I find them very wearable, although you're right that some of them (Memory of Kindness, Summer Kitchen) have an extremely intimate feel. Black March just floored me the first time I wore it; it layers wonderfully with all sorts of things, because it adds a rough, dank dirt aspect. Some of my favorites: Black March with Winter 1972; Burning Leaves and Gathering Apples; his new, ultra-stinky CB Musk Reinvention layered with rich florals. His smoky scents (Bonfire, Smokehouse, etc.) with Gathering Apples or Gingerbread are also great, as Elle noted.

8:48 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

PBI to say, on two of the scents you mention in your comment, I came to the same conclusion as Tom :-D

8:53 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Katie- glad you liked the reviews- and if you're crazy, then were crazy together!

9:13 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I'll have to try that, and I'd love to try his smoke and leather ones. Im all about smoke and leather these days...

9:14 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I usually hate "beachy" scents, usually because they try to have it both ways: they'll stick jasmine or peach or whatever in there. (I think it's part of the reason why Fire Island missed it for me, Bain du Soleil note and all) This one is simply the distillation of a day at the beach, and that's what makes it great.

9:18 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


Thank you! (again), and can't wait to read yours tomorrow

9:19 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I didn't write they were unwearable, I wrote that I didn't think I could see myself wearing them. For me they were just a little too personally transportive to take out into the real world. But I have that sample of "Kindness" in my office and when work gets a bit too much, out it comes...

I'm almost afraid to smell the burning leaves one- not that it won't be good, but that it will be too good. Autumn is one thing about growing up in New England that living in SoCal has neither provided substitute for nor exceeded. I miss those crisp fall days.

9:25 AM EDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

They sound very intriguing and would love to get my hands on some samples some time.

10:18 AM EDT  
Blogger chayaruchama said...


How delightful, and fair...
Loved your review-

This CB sounds right up my alley- and as for Memories of Childhood, I'm a tomato-leaf fool...

When my oldest was 18 mos. old, he took out a babysitter with the astute observation: "Annemarie has on bad perfume- NOT Eau de Campagne"- poor girl was traumatized![P. S.- Mr. Critic Jr. is now in Harvard, so who knows if all that tomato-leaf didn't do some good?]

Hope to order samples before DH strings me up...

10:43 AM EDT  
Blogger chayaruchama said...

OK, I'm an ass...Memories of KINDNESS...

10:58 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


Memories of Childhood is just as apt..

and I am a tomato leaf fool as well.

11:05 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I urge you to click through and order some. They are really nice, and the samples are surprisingly big, considering they're oils, not colognes

11:06 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree, his scents are very evocative. Even if I wasn't around in 1967, I can still find something to relate to. Same with Memory of Kindness. Unfortunately, like you, I can't bring myself to wear them. I'd like to keep a few around just to get that experience.

11:50 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


That's exactly how I feel. For me, "Memory" is so calming, so wonderfully transportive I almost want to figure out a way to have it waft out my cars AC system when I'm stuck in traffic, as well as having it in my office. It's so wonderfully calming, one sniff and I'm lying on a chaise in a fantasy tomato patch reading "Mapp & Lucia"..

12:04 PM EDT  
Blogger marchlion said...

Tom, Marina, Ina ... knock me over with a feather. You are all agreeing (I think) they are comfort scents, but unwearable -- that is, better sniffable from the air/bottle/room etc.

I think we can all agree that none of us mind smelling weird ;-) so I am trying to wrap my mind around why you wouldn't want to, say, dab on some MOK or Burning Leaves. (Tom, I DO understand what you're saying about personally transportive, and that makes total sense to me.)

I find my favorites profoundly comforting to wear -- the equivalent of soothing music. Wearing Burning Leaves and Gathering Apples right now, and I am outside in the woods, at the orchard, in heaven -- even though I'm inside at my desk, working!

12:28 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

The quote he has on his website from Rebecca, says it all "If only there was an invention that bottled memory like scent, and it never faded and it never got stale"

I forget Maxim's response exactly, but the gist is that some memories are best left in the bottle. having written that, I will definatly try the burning leaves at the very least (I love that smell, and I don't think you can burn leaves anymore, can you?). Although it may actually force me to go on a trip back east for the real thing

2:47 PM EDT  
Blogger marchlion said...

Tom -- all this back-and-forth today made me think what it is about Burning Leaves that I find so profoundly comforting. Yes, they are a great representation of "burning leaves," which, you're right, you can't do any more (like a lot of other really fun things.) But here's the kicker for me -- if I wait for hours, until the scent starts to fade, the smoke clears and what I get THEN is just "leaves" -- you know that exact smell of being inside the leaf fort you made as a kid, or jumping in a pile of leaves? Even now, as a boring grownup, walking down the road when the leaves are piled up like snowdrifts and there's that funny, dry, almost-dusty fallen leaf smell... you know? THAT smell. Is there a better smell? It is the smell of being six years old, playing outside at dusk in the fall chill, without a jacket (even though it's just cold enough to need one), looking forward to Halloween, and feeling like everything in the world was created just for my pleasure.

3:09 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Blogger is annoying me to day...

I won't rewrite the whole response, suffice it to say your description of the leaf piles is so spot-on that I immediately ordered samples of "Burning Leaves" (I was thisclose to just getting the full-on oil), as well as "In the Library" and "Gathering Apples" I may have that New England autumn in BH after all!

4:56 PM EDT  

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