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Friday, May 11, 2007

Perfume Review: CB I Hate Perfume Memory of Kindness

"What does a child truly remember?" asks Christopher Brosius. "A child remembers kindness." The kindest person I have ever known was my great-grandmother. When I was five-twelve years old, for various reasons my parents had to go away a lot, leaving me in her loving care. I always think of her as the best friend of my childhood. Always gentle, infinitely patient, she was the archetypal granny every child should have. She'd play with me for hours, she'd make up stories for me , she'd cook the most delicious things, she'd take me to parks and to our dacha (the country house). I mentioned that dacha so many times on this blog, by now you probably know it just as well as I do...and I feel that if we could be magically transported there right now, I would have been able to find my way through the vegetable and berry beds and flower bushes as easily as twenty years ago and could show you every marvelous corner of that wonderful place.

Memory of Kindness, Brosius' ode to the country house of his Aunt, is such a time machine of sorts. Some of CB I Hate Perfume scents touch me disturbingly deeply, on a subconscious, irrational level, and Memory of Kindness is one of those scents. It is not a complex fragrance, but its realistic quality is positively striking. It smells of tomato vines, a pungent, green smell that incorporates the poignant aroma of wet earth and a slight, savory fruitiness of tomatoes themselves. It is the scent of being small, of crouching among the tomato beds, of unhelpfully picking up the least ripe fruits, of stomping all over the vines, of getting dirty, being a nuisance and getting nothing but a smile and a praise in return. It evokes the memory of being washed and fed, of a tummy slightly grumpy about the amount of fruits, berries and vegetables it devoured, of napping in a house with curtains drawn against the sun, the house with its comforting smell of damp wood, drying herbs and ripe apples...Memory of Kindness is a scent of innocence, carelessness and absolute security - the feelings that are indications of a very happy childhood.

Had I not experienced that kind of love, that kind of kindness, I am not sure what would have happened to me later in life. What my great grandmother has given me, has become a foundation so far seemingly capable of withstanding all sorts of turmoils. Greatma has lived a difficult life, survived the war with three little daughteres, struggled a lot...Very humble, very retiring, she never complained, never judged. I don't think I have ever met or would ever meet a person of such profound goodness. She died seven years ago this May and I miss her every day.

Would I wear Memory of Kindness? Gosh no, I react to it so strongly, it is almost painful to wear it. But I love to sniff my sample and to feel immediately and inexplicably comforted.

Memory of Kindness is available at, $12.00-$60.00.

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Blogger Lisa Olga said...

Beautifully written memories.

I have rather the same flashback sort of thing with At The Beach 1966 from CB. Used up the last dregs of the sample I had and really do need more. It's the hazy wonderful week mom dad and us kids used to spend every summer at a rented cottage at the Rhode Island shore. Though I like to take the head first dive into sense menory flashback and wallow in the stuff..scent my pillow with it..I can almost hear the ocean and feel the sand that always got in the bedsheets somehow.

11:11 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

You know, despite the fact that my grandparents had died long before I would have had any real memory of them (I have vague recollection of visiting grandmother in her home when I was very small, and a sense memory of powdery lilacs) I had the same instinctual reaction to this scent. I love it, I want it, but I know that I won't really wear it (sorry March) in the way that I wear other fragrances. It's hard to explain: I would put on other perfumes because I want them to reflect what I am feeling that day: I feel slashingly chic (Derby), I feel like a sword-wielding beast (Yatagan), I feel like a charming esthete (RduJ). It's like I am showing the outward expression of my inner self in my buton-down air-conditioned corporate world. my inner freak-flag waving timid sillage. Memory of Kindness is that turned inward: it's a balm for the soul. When life gets a little too hectic I can disappear into the embrace of that garden: lying in the imaginary dappled shade smelling those green vines and earth and the world is right again...

11:27 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I have yet to At The Beach. I wonder what it will make me remember.

11:30 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I've been feeling like a sword-wielding beast for the last couple of days. Now I want to go back to being slashingly chic, heh. (As If!)

Seriously though, I have the same sort of reaction to this scent as you do.

11:32 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

You realy should try At the Beach- I think I passed it on otherwise I'd send it to you. I'd love to hear your impressions of it.

Funster- I have almost the same memories, about 20 miles West on the shore in Connecticut and North on the Cape.

CB is a magician, isn't he? When I am next in NYC I have to go to his shop.

11:41 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Marina, this review has warmed my heart. :) Thank you for it! I can almost picture myself in your dacha, and my grandma was very similar to yours. She raised 14 children and always had enough love for all of her numerous grandkids.

11:50 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Marina, thank you for sharing your beautiful memories, and please don't ever stop talking about the dacha. I want to keep going there with you. And you are so right: your great-grandmother's kindness was essential to your ability to cope with later trials.

I think my past must be totally different from Christopher Brosius'. His fragrances don't send me back to anything in my past. I make connections with the stories he tells about the scents, but I am not affected strongly the way so many other people are. I like several of them a lot-Russian Caravan Tea, To See a Flower, for example--but I enjoy them the same way I enjoy fragrances by other perfumers. In fact, To See a Flower transports me to my present, all the transplanting I have to do all the time. As far as I'm concerned, it should be called To Repot a Flower (all that earth smell, you know).

12:21 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

M, what a beautiful review and memories - it brought tears into my eyes. the reason for that is that I had a privilege to have such a "granny" too. it was a lady who was not my relative but I spent most of the days at her's when my parents were at work. at the time I was 2-5 y.o. she was marvellous, she taught me practically everything I still know: how to read, write, many poems, prayers... she has given me some of the most treasured life advice I have ever heard. she loved me deeply just as if I were her granddaughter. she passed away in June last year - she was 95. I'm unbelievably grateful to her for everything she has given me and I think of her often. I believe she's getting all her goodness back now and I hope she's very happy.

(I hope you don't mind this long comment. but the similarity of our experience is quite striking in a way.)

2:20 AM EDT  
Blogger lilybp said...

Wonderful review! I love hearing your memories! I don't remember my great-grandmother, but I am forever attached to my grandmother, who was far from typical. She was a very dynamic woman with flaming red hair, a schoolteacher for most of her life who went to law school in her 50s (because there were so many lawyers in my family she was feeling left out), an excellent dancer, and the life of every party. I miss her terribly, and wish I knew her scent (I'm sure she had one), or one that would evoke her (I have a feeling it wouldn't be a CB--Poivre might come close:)

For some reason, I haven't tried MoK, though I keep hearing it's terrific with my beloved Black March.

6:17 AM EDT  
Blogger chayaruchama said...

I love hearing about your family.

Your grandmother still lives in you, no doubt.
And will continue, in your daughter, through shared oral history...

I adore this smell.
My childhood isn't evoked by it, but it is comforting and freshly verdant, with no malice.
And CB is SUCH a beautiful soul, it makes me feel close to him to smell it.
Now, I can feel close to you as well [as if I didn't already].

Happy Mother's Day, Marinochka !
And all you mothers out there...

7:13 AM EDT  
Blogger elle said...

What a beautiful post! And such wonderful memories. You were extremely lucky to have a great-grandmother like that. ((((M)))))
Have to confess that, as avid a gardener as I am, I've never once grown tomatoes (or anything that could be eaten) and Memory of Kindness actually doesn't invoke any memories for me, but I do love the scent and think it's heaven layered w/ Black March. Oddly enough, almost none of CB's scents, other than the tobacco ones, remind me of anything in my life, but I adore wearing them. They do fit, however, into an imaginary serene, settled world, so maybe that's why I like them.

7:36 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your lovely memories! This review is amazingly beautiful and now I'm more interested than ever to try some of the CB perfumes. Thanks again:)

8:07 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The relationship between scent and memory is a wondrous phenomenon. Your post moved me deeply, bringing me back to summer days spent at our lake house. My parents both worked so we under our grandmother's care. When I catch the scent of sundried grass, fresh lake water (yes, it has a scent), mountain laurel, or hot tar (the road in front of our house), I am instantly transported to my special place and time. Sadly, after owning it for 60+ years, the house passed out of my family. But I'll always have my scented memories.

8:13 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Oh, I'll find it somewhere. I bet you it will remind me of the Baltic Sea.

8:33 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Everyone should have a babushka and/or a pra-babushka :-)

8:34 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

To Repot a Flower! That is very funny!!

8:34 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

It doesn't surprise me that we have similar experiences. It is probably something to with, of I don't know, Slavic mentality, culture or whatever. I am sure that if we started counting, many things that you do would be similar to the ones we do :-)
Big hug!

8:37 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Your grandma was wonderful! Now, mine too was somewhat like that (my grandma, not my greatma :-)). I can easily imagine her in Poivre. Although I can just easily imagine her something that is softer than soft. L de Lempicka, maybe :-)

8:39 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Thank you! And Happy Mother's Day to you too!! I hope you receive lotsa lotsa gifts from your loved ones.

8:39 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

They paint a cozy, imaginary world, that is so true. Not all of them, though, for me. Tobacco scents are just as you described them, and so is leather. But we goes green and eartrhy, it's trouble :-) If I layered Black March with Memory of Kindness I'd probably go into the cardiac arrest out of shock. I don't think any other scent affected me deeper than Black March.

8:41 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Thank you so much for your kind words!

8:41 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I am sorry that house is gone. The one I described is gone too. :-(

Fresh lake water totally has smell, I agree!

8:43 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a beautiful review, Marina! I I feel transported just reading this review. It also makes me think of my grandma, who took care of me when I was little. I miss her.

9:46 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Thank you!

I know. :-( I miss mine too :-(

9:49 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your review touched me. :)

And, what struck me about the notes you mentioned in the scent was the tomato vines. My grandma (my kindred spirit) always has tomatoes growing in her garden and they smelled so strongly in the that midsummer's heat and humidity. In fact, I can recall that smell as I type this.

Great review.

:)) Dawn

10:08 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Thank you very much!

And the scent IS very true to the smell of tomato vines. Literally, like being right there, smelling them, warmed by the summer sun.

10:10 AM EDT  
Blogger donanicola said...

What an emotional and beautiful review, thank you Marina. I find your descriptions of your Slavic background fascinating so please don't stop. One of my brother's best mates married a lovely Russian woman. They went to her family dacha a couple of summers ago - had such fun. But how funny about CB because I was telling my cousin about it/him last weekend - she was a fan of the Demeter scents. So I looked them up yesterday and sent them an email about shippping to the Yoo Kay and they've already and charmingly replied! I love the quotes on the site - where else can you find Angela Carter and Nancy Mitford and more? Pure joy.

10:18 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another one of your beautiful posts, M, and so timely too.

I had grandparents who were wonderfully kind too - you've inspired me to write about them sometime.

Thanks - I love it when your words resonate with me like this.

10:26 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I am sure that your friend would have at the very least fed very-very well :-)
CB site is very fun, indeed. So they sell the scents in the UK?

10:41 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

You are very kind!
I would love to read your post about your grandparents!

10:41 AM EDT  
Blogger donanicola said...

Marina yes, fed and watered very well indeed :)And he said there was a huge field of cannabis plants right next door!! As for CB no, they don't sell in the UK. They will ship but it costs an arm and a leg so they suggested I contact their store in Munich. Shipping should be much more reasonable from there. Happy Weekend! ooh btw have you seen the ad for Kelly Caleche? With the whip? I could forgive the pink....

11:06 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Bwah ha ha. Well, please let me assure you that it is not a common practice, tee hee.

I saw the ad and immediately forgave the pink too. I will buy this scent the moment it is sold somewhere, unsniffed.

11:09 AM EDT  
Blogger NowSmellThis said...

What lovely memories! And always happy to see anything about Memory of Kindness, it is such a wonderful scent. Unlike you, I don't have any associations with the aroma at all, and it is one of my summer favorites.

12:57 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I have yet to find a major CB scent that I will love AND be able to wear. Most of them I love and cannot wear on my person. When I say major, I mean - not accords. I like many accords, but they are sort of...playthings :-)

1:01 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i love your name for her - greatma. it fits in more than one way. so glad you had her in your life! - minette

3:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

It definitely does fit her :-) Thank you, Minette!!

3:02 PM EDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

What a wonderful memory. This is one of my favorites of CBs from just a memory standpoint. It's all wrapped up with my mom and her garden, which was full of tomato plants. It has a comfort that's very wombish

Lots of his scents do that, speak to some deeper part of me that isn't fully conscious. He's a genius.

4:11 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Wombish is such a great word! May I use it? :-)

4:32 PM EDT  
Blogger rosarita said...

Oh, thank you for such a lovely review and little window into your past. MOK is the only CB sample I have (so far). I don't have the gr. grandmother associations, but I LIVED in the garden in the summers of my childhood. We grew everything, and my earliest memories are of working alongside my father. Memory of Kindness perfectly captures not only the tomato vines but as you said the warm sun on the dirt as well. I have not worn this yet - only sniffed it with pleasure.

5:05 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Your garden sounds wonderful.
Maybe I should get a bottle of Memory of Kindness too...*ponders*

5:09 PM EDT  
Blogger Unknown said...


6:25 PM EDT  

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