I mentioned CB I Hate Perfume in my last post on “nude” or skin fragrances. Again, if you’re a fragrance adventurer you really owe it to yourself to order some samples from his extensive catalog; here is a by-no-means-exhaustive list of some close-to-the-skin favorites. I’m going to apologize to you and to Christopher right up front for some fairly heavy blog-lifting of his text. I gave up trying to rewrite it, given how descriptive and informative it already is.
Do Not Ask Me Why – “heady and hypnotic with a distinctive floral note wafting seductively over a deep dry slightly spicy smoke.” Incense and cool, damp stone. Years ago, I visited Siem Reap during the summer so I could see the wonders of Angkor Wat before they improved it into a paved, roped-off Disneyland, which was rumored to be coming. I hired a guide for the day; it was blisteringly hot and we wore long sleeves to ward off the mosquitos and Dengue; I drank a literal gallon of water and never once needed the loo. Periodically, we’d scramble over or around some tree roots or shattered plinths and step into the gloomy shade of one of the monuments, and the temperature would immediately drop in the most fantastic way. I swear, that day smelled like this. $100 for 30ml
Ambrosius – now would be a great time to mention that, due to some alchemic sleight-of-hand, CB perfumes are water-based and don’t have any denatured alcohol in them, so you can spray and get your nose right up in there immediately and not get a snoot full of nastiness. “A blend of Amber Resins, Labdanum Absolute, Cistus Resin, Benzoin, Black Pepper and Spices that seems to crackle and smolder on the skin.” This one probably smells the most …. familiar? of the ones I’ve chosen, in that if you like incense fragrances, you’ll swoon over this. A perfect balance of resin-y warmth and spice, perfect in this dreadfully cold, wet weather. $85 for 30ml
Angelic Conversation – “The materials chosen for Angelic Conversation are 99% natural – there is but one tiny drop of an artificial Russian Leather accord I happen to love. Otherwise, this scent is an entirely natural blend of various Ambers, Styrax, Cistus, Labdanum and spices like Nutmeg, Cardamom and Coriander… the prime ingredient and central core of Angelic Conversation is that rarest and most magical of all natural materials – Oud, also known as Agarwood. Its ‘musty’ quality may be an acquired taste for some but, to me, the odor of Agarwood is always the living, beating heart of the most Ancient Forest. Please note that, because this scent contains such a high concentration of real Oud, it is quite expensive. To my mind, it is more than worth it.”
There’s a brief pause at the beginning of the fragrance, like the quiet hiss at the start of a record on the turntable just before the music begins. You know something’s coming, but you don’t know what. Then it opens and the mental image for me jumps to a time-lapse opening of a lotus, for some reason. Angelic Conversation shares some genetics with my long-lamented Donna Karan Chaos, a name that always baffled me for something so quietly stunning. Angelic Conversation is softer, more ethereal, pitched higher, less raspy. I adore Chaos, and frankly this makes Chaos smell a bit … cheap, and it kills me to say that. At $190 for $30ml it’s among his most expensive, but these days that price doesn’t strike me as particularly outrageous, especially considering what you’re getting here. If I could have one of his scents gifted to me, this would be it.
7 Billion Hearts – “blended from very fine Vanilla absolutes from Tahiti and Madagascar with a base composed of smoky resinous notes. As the perfume warms on the skin, the vanilla slowly emerges through a veil of smoke. The effect is enticing, warm and delicious.” Okay, if I could have ANOTHER of his scents gifted to me, I’d take this one. The perfect non-foody vanilla. It starts off smelling lightly (and mostly) of resin-y incense, as if smelled from a distance. I cannot stop sniffing whatever part of the body I spray this on; mostly I wear it at home where my teenage sons are used to me compulsively sniffing at myself whilst staring off in the distance, deep into the experience. It takes awhile for the vanilla to arrive, while it’s still smoky. $135 for 30ml
Where We Are There Is No Here – now, this is interesting. Even at full bore it’s elusive—“a paradox – the antithesis of perfume. It is completely intangible and almost undetectable. Yet it has great presence and allure. Like the ghost of a flower, it touches the subconscious of those who wear it – and those who encounter it.” It’s the most ephemeral of scents, and to the extent it smells like anything, it’s like catching a whiff of something on skin, or the ghost of a scent on a sweater. I felt compelled to add it to this list, however, because I’ve repeatedly gotten compliments from co-workers and friends, trying to identify precisely what I’m wearing that smells so good. $85 for 30ml
CB used to be in Brooklyn; now he’s in Jersey City; the shop is open by appointment only. I noticed he’s having a sale right now, please see below.