NYC Day One — Hotter Than Smell

Today was a scorcher in NYC à¢â‚¬” just absurdly hot, 103 degrees forecast. I don´t know if we made it to a record, but it sure felt like it.  If I get started on all the ways I love New York I’ll never shut up — you know how windbaggy I get — so I’ll try to concentrate really hard on the sniffage.  BTW Patty and I took turns writing this, so it’s a little weird in terms of point of view.  Do your best. — March

Patty and I met up at noon-ish and headed for Christopher Brosius´ store in Brooklyn, CB I Hate Perfumes. I´ve loved his work since he was the dude behind Demeter’s early, sublimely strange frags (Dirt, Thunderstorm) before he left the company a couple of years ago. CB is his solo work of love, and it shows in the many fragrances he´s developed. If you´ve been to the website, it´s a little daunting, because where do you start with dozens of scents? My biased suggestion is this: if you´re dying for a single note (cucumber, say, or blood orange), knock yourself out. They´re evocative and frequently hilariously spot-on, like the gingerale. But if you really want to smell what I love best about his work, choose one of his blended fragrances meant to evoke a time and/or place. To me, those virtual-reality nose trips are Brosius’ special gift to perfumery. (snap over there is March and Christopher)

Our personal favorites in no particular order were: Black March (earthy, early Spring), Memory of Kindness (a tomato-vine garden stunner), Winter 1972 (snow and other winter notes, gorgeous layered with Black March), Burning Leaves, and Gathering Apples à¢â‚¬” not the smell of a single apple, but the smell of the whole trip-to-the-orchard in the fall shebang. It´s wonderful (and great with Burning Leaves!) We also loved Russian Caravan Tea.

(March) What did I buy? My first musk. His CB Musk Reinvention is one of his blended fragrances, and as I recall he said he was trying to evoke human, skin-type scents. It is radically different from any other musk I have ever smelled, and I had to have it the second I smelled it. Think the opposite end of the spectrum from, say, Kiehl´s à¢â‚¬” it´s sweeter, spicier, and there is something sensual and (big surprise) animalic about it. Layered with his jasmine absolute (he has three) Jasmine Grand India, which to me was the skankiest, it is pretty much pudeur heaven.

(Patty) March did not pick the Jasmine up while we were there, but she´ll be calling back in for it within two weeks. I snagged a couple of his limiteds and Memory of Kindness, and I thought I had a Black March, but must have grabbed a bigger Burning Leaves, so I need to snag that later. The jasmines were just gorgeous, and I finally understand what indolic means. If you are ever in NYC, take the bump over to Brooklyn, it´s well worth the effort.

(March) Christopher played with us for three hours, off and on between customers, and he was so much fun. I wish I´d taken notes, but I was too busy just listening and yakking à¢â‚¬” he was full of interesting facts (the chemical compounds present in various common smells, how he goes about creating a custom fragrance for someone, the variety of fragrances which many people can´t smell at all,) very generous with his time and attention, and told funny stories. He´s revamping his Incense line (veeery exciting for us) and he´s working on a linden blossom scent and a white flowers scent, and working on a book about smell, which he hopes will be out about Easter of next year, which will include smell strips to illustrate various points, and how cool is that?  It was a scent bender of the best possible kind à¢â‚¬” other enthusiastic participants and a chance to hear things explained by someone who understands scent so well.

Then it was off to Takashimaya, where we smelled an obscene amount of stuff, so we´re limiting it here to the highlights:

(Patty) Il Profumo Tougregh is the winner from Tak à¢â‚¬” we both loved this, and it´s from the men´s side. A spicy mix that just deepens and smells better and better the longer it is on. Sexy and spicy, get it for yourself. It´s one of the few that we both had to spritz on, and it, mingling with an arm full of CB´s Jasmine and Burning Leaves, is just heaven. God I smell good.

Went through all the Fragonards. Fragonard Mensonge is a gorgeous incense. Skin real estate being what it is, I saved some some square inchage for other spritzing and did not spritz it — mistake!  I’ll need to fix that tomorrow. I think that one may be FBW, and it definitely needs a skin test. Fragonard Cyprian is another good one. A little green, we should have found a place to spritz that too. Out of all the Fragonards, those two were the standouts, everything else was making our noses fall asleep.

March loves the Divines, they smell like divine hell on me. Truly Madly Deeply, is someone pulling my leg with that one? I don´t get it. Santa Maria Novella Nostalgia, Tubereuse Criminelle after the Tubereuse got drunk and fell off the ship. Love it or hate it, you won´t forget it, and though I´m not sure it deserves to be in my collection, it´s an interesting scent that needs to be sniffed. Il Profumo Chocolat is another one I wish I had spritzed. It´s a very sophisticated cacao, not sweet, and it needs a skin test, but spritzing on anything chocolate is fraught with peril because you´ll either love it or despise it, and nothing is worse that being covered in chocolate smell that you hate. March smelled all the Yoshes and found the Ginger Ciao to be dab-worthy.

(March) Of course I was in a skirt, so I could take advantage of the extra skin on both knees.  I can’t believe P’s dissing those Divines — L’Homme Coeur and L’Homme Sage were also divine, although Coeur reminded us both very much of something at its opening and we can’t think of what — any ideas?  (BTW I am too tired to check my fragrance spelling, laugh away at my gaffes, they’re close enough, okay?)  I used my left knee for that Touaregh, and my right knee for freaky Nostalgia, which is a must-smell for weird frag fans — how did stuffy ol’ SMN come up with this?  Right wrist — Yosh Ginger Ciao, gorgeous and still going strong.  I re-dabbled in the Delraes — Bois de Paradis is all growling, animalic floral/sandalwood/incense in the opening, but goes through a boozy middle I don’t like at all before settling into a decent incense.  Left shoulder — Delrae Amoreuse (should come with a warning label) is a dirrrrty floral — okay, detecting a trend here, is this trip turning into Skankfest for me?  Hmmmm… I too am thinking not trying the Fragonard Cyprian and Mensonge was a mistake, but, hey — as P says, there’s always tomorrow…

  • March says:

    Shari — reading your post makes me so happy! I am glad you had a good visit. It’s fun to spend time with CB, who is enthusiastic and will share that enthusiasm with others who stop by.

    Dang, I am sorry to have missed Violet Empire!!! As you know, there are sooooo many things to smell; I wish I could remember, particularly now that I’m on this weird Cuir Amethyste bender, which (to me) is violet/leather. I believe that is one of the ones you can buy a sample of, if you want to re-sniff before committing.

    Thanks again for sharing your positive experiences; I was very impressed by customer service at Barneys as well.

  • Shari says:

    I was in NYC this past weekend and thanks to this website, my friend & I made the trek over to CB Iate Perfume (“SBIHP”). We walked all the way from Soho, across the W’burg bridge and arrived all hot and sweaty at CBIHP at 5:15 pm (45 mins before closing).

    I am sure that we looked bedraggled but CB was there and he could not have been nicer to us! He told us all about his fragrances, let us do “blind smells” and generally contributed to us having a wonderful time. I must have smelled over 70 different scents.

    It was hard to decide but I ended up with Burning Leaves, Russian Tea Caravan, Mr. Hulot’s Holiday, Bluebell, CB 93… and am wavering over getting “Violet Empire” sent to me. I wish someone has has been to CBIHB would give their thoughts on Violet Empire – if I remember correctly from card next to the perfume, it is meant to evoke violet, Empress Josephine and old leather. It is such an unusual and lovely fragrance.

    As if this weren’t enough, I also bought a bottle of Fragonard’s Apres Tout at Barney’s the next day. We were helped by James Garcia who works that counter and he was a walking, talking fount of perfume knowledge. So fun! I highly recommend anyone who likes perfume to meet and shop with him.

  • marchlion says:

    Katie — In terms of fragrance twin aspects, I think CB is right up your alley. You know you can always order samps online … I’m still stunned at how gracious and fun he was in person. He felt like a friend.

  • marchlion says:

    Nina — maybe that’s what it is. I’ll try that match-up today. I have a little more time before I get on the plane!

  • marchlion says:

    Chaya — hydrating!?!?! I drank, like, five liters of fluids. At least yesterday was less miserable. That Truly thing … what kind of joke is that? It smells really BAD. I need to re-smell and test some of the Fragonards. I can’t remember the concentrations (the ones I tried may have been EDT) but the lasting power was disappointing. However, that was one try on a busy day, so I’m not assuming that’s correct.

  • marchlion says:

    Victoria — jet on up here!

  • marchlion says:

    Vi — as Patty says in the next post, we feel like the JARs need their own post. They are worth it. I’m still digesting. So obviously they were something special. I was all ready to be eye-rolling, given their approach. But, nope.

  • marchlion says:

    Elle — I sat around for 5 minutes with Burning Leaves up one nostril and Gathering Apples up the other … the Tobacco was great too. He does smoke really well — he had five or six of them (smokehouse, etc.) It does seem to Patty and I that when we “layer” them, we seem to get better results by dabbing the absolutes right next to each other than on top … are you spraying the dilute oil?

  • marchlion says:

    Carmen — thanks!! If I’m going to casually toss around French words for emphasis, I might as well use the right ones… now I’ll have to practice pronouncing it.

  • marchlion says:

    Marina — I could do a whole post on how great Patty’s family is. She is a total hoot, as you might imagine. We get along just as well in person as we did long-distance.

  • Katie says:

    Jealous! So jealous!=:)

    It sounds like you guys are having a ball together. Hope to see more pics from your trip soon!

    Hope one day I’ll get to pop into CB’s, too. That sounds just fab.

  • Nina says:

    Divine l’Homme de Coeur always reminds me of Bois Farine, but with herbs. Wow, what a trip…have a great time!

  • chaya ruchama says:

    I think it’s downright OBSCENE that you two are off gallivanting cavalierly [albeit limply!] in this heat, and if I didn’t suspect that you both sorely needed the break, I might succumb to envy [something I almost NEVER do]…

    Truly, Madly, Deeply- PU!!! Bad film turned yecchhh! Sadist alert…

    CB sounds like quite the quirky, gallant gent- I read about the tomato-vine one, and broke out in hives of joy redolent of Eau de Campagne-
    must try…also, your descriptions of his others sound wonderful!

    I’d love to sample the Fragonards, as well.

    Patty, I suspect that you may need to use the choke-collar on March [if you haven’t already, that is]…

    Growling, snarling…hmmm-

    Too much fun, you two!

    Keep hydrated,enjoy, and take LOTS of notes, so we can fold space and time with you vicariously…

    love you two-

  • Victoria O says:

    Oh my gosh, how fun!!!!
    I wanna come too!
    I’m hopping in my private jet right now!

  • violetnoir says:

    I don’t think finally meeting eachother and being able to hang out together gets any better than this…or does it?

    I’ll stay tuned for tomorrow’s post. I’m hoping you hit JAR, because I would love to hear your impressions of that line.

    Hugs and love to both of you!

  • Elle says:

    What a blast! That is my idea of a perfectly spent day. CB has to be one of the nicest men in the world and I adore his scents. Black March also layers gorgeously w/ Memory of Kindness and Burning Leaves and Gathering Apples were made for each other. His Pipe Tobacco accord is the most dead on “inside a tobacco shop” scent I’ve ever smelled. I’m now going to have to try Black March w/ Winter ’72.

  • carmencanada says:

    Does sound like fun, doesn’t it, despite the asphalt-melting heat…
    But, oh, March, “pudeur” doesn’t mean “stink” in French, it means “modesty”, in the sexual sense. The French word for skank is “puanteur” (sorry, it’s the language teacher in me that can’t resist correction! ;-D )

  • Marina says:

    Clearly, you are having a blast together! How was it to actually meet in real life? 🙂 Have great time, you guys!!

  • Patty says:

    Found it. It’s touaregh (spelled wrong). It’s lavender, mint, desert melon, then grass of pepper, vetiver, patchouli, nutmeg, yellow rose, palmarose. The top doesn’t last long at all, the fruity top, I just get nutmeggy peppery vetivery goodness, yum!!!

  • Patty says:

    Ina, wish you were here! toughregh, we didn’t write down the notes, we were going through them so fast, but I know it’s got some spice in it that is wonderful.

    CBs are just terrific, I’m a huge fan now!

  • Ina says:

    Ah! This sounds like SO much fun! I mean, this doesn’t even compare to Chicago. Tougregh – what are the notes here? Must do my research. I’m now super anxious to try all those CBs… have only tried Burning Leaves. Time for a sample order! Enjoy the rest of your trip! Can’t wait for more. 😡