Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Perfume story

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Very interesting article by Jessica Gallucci, which begins:

“I have a strong sensitivity to certain aromachemicals, like musk,” says Christopher Brosius. “The aldehydes in Chanel No. 5 make me puke.” And that is unfortunate, he continues, because the Polish ladies here in Williamsburg wear so much of it.

Christopher is the perfumer behind CB I Hate Perfume Gallery, a small shop on a street that runs parallel to New York’s East River. I’ve visited often in the years since I first wandered in and overheard the owner describing his philosophy: that great fragrances are unimposing and genderless, and they should harmonise with a person’s natural odour. Christopher (“Never call him ‘Chris'”, his assistant once whispered) is a theatrical presence, possessing a wry wit and a spring-loaded arch to his brow. He speaks to me between sips from a container labelled Muscle Milk, as Zephyr, his mastiff, rests his enormous head on my knee.

The shop’s exposed wooden beams and minimalist decor give it the air of an austere cabin. Three hundred miniature laboratory vials populate white shelves. Inside the bottles are accords, the aromatic building-blocks with which one can–for $125 to upwards of $1,200–collaborate with Christopher to construct one’s own custom scent. The vials of single notes, which can be had individually for around $25, carry hand-scrawled names like “Rhubarb Leaf”, “Papaya Seed”, “Celo Tape” and “Crayon”.

The inventory is huge, partly because Christopher is compulsive about bottling pleasant aromas, and partly because his clients have such varied and specific tastes. But people often have trouble articulating what smells they like. “It’s an extraordinarily revealing thing to admit,” he explains. “They tend to say, ‘Oh… flowers.'”

Gorgeous fragrances often contain notes of something nasty, it turns out. Even the daintiest jasmine perfumes contain indole, which Christopher likens to the smell of dead mice. (Indole is “probably the most unfairly maligned molecule on earth”, writes Luca Turin in “The Secret of Scent“.)

A client once told Christopher how she loved the scent that wafted from her summer home’s air conditioner after it had been out of use all winter. After some experimenting, Christopher hit upon what the woman found so appealing: mildew. Now that scent lends a fusty bite to his otherwise bright-smelling Locker-room accord.

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

19 September 2008 at 11:34 am

Posted in Daily life

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