Y’all are killing me. Where is everyone? Here I am, waxing all poetical and sh!t about Art and Feeling and whatnot and …. crickets. Throw a b!tch a bone! Tell me about your favorite CB I Hate Perfume fragrance. Or, have you tried any other nude scents (or makeup) you’d like to share with me? Come play, I’m home with the kids and bored.
As part of my Happy Nude Year research for my last post, I wanted to smell Glossier’s You, another close-to-the-skin scent. Glossier is an on-trend makeup/skincare brand appealing to a younger, sleeker, more fresh-faced consumer, and You is its signature scent. Their website touts “the ultimate personal fragrance with musky base notes + iris + pink pepper top notes;” it was a Fragrance Foundation finalist in 2018. It’s $60 for 50 ml and I think the bottle’s cute and I was tempted to do a blind buy.
Why it’s special, according to the website: “Unlike traditional fragrances, Glossier You is heavy on warm, creamy base notes (musk, ambrette, and ambrox) that transform and smell a little different on everyone” – as if regular fragrance didn’t do that, but I get the gist that they’re suggesting it’s a personalized scent – you know, more you. Also, two bullet points down: “It wears evenly, so the way it smells when you first spray it is the way it will smell throughout the day”—as if a slow, delightful unfurling and development of the notes is something to be avoided at all costs. Okay dude, whatever.
Anyway, I chickened out at the last minute and bought a carded sample (so I could spend the rest of the money on an eyeshadow palette, full disclosure), and I’m glad I did. I’ve smelled more interesting laundry detergent —although that’s not entirely fair, is it? Glossier’s not suggesting their scent’s going to be interesting; quite the opposite. For what it is, though….. when I first put it on it smells a bit like a knockoff D&G Light Blue with less metal shavings, and it dries down into something approximating Prada Infusion d’Iris, only Prada Iris is (for all its carefully-constructed lightness) so, so much better – and it’s five bucks cheaper online. I can’t speak for everyone, but Prada Iris is much more me than You.
I keep mulling the skin scents ouevre, however. Let’s continue, in my usual meandering style. I’ll be your slightly loopy Beatrice, keeping you on the path as we move through the hidden dangers and noxious miasmas in the ever-expanding hellscape of modern perfumery.
One of the odd delights, in retrospect, of being a perfume harlot back in Ye Olden Tymes of the early aughts was: you couldn’t get everything so easily. The world wide web wasn’t quite as efficient as it is now, and so we’d read about some impossible-to-get scent in Moldavia Wakanda Lithuania (hello, Josef Statkus!) and we’d have to strategize: did we have any friends there who could mail it to us? Someone in the EU who could travel there and pick a bottle up? Friend-of-a-friend, maybe? We’d end up with these crazy frag-mule situations where there were handoffs in, say, Berlin and Paris. Finally getting your mitts on it, whatever “it” was, was just that much more rewarding.
Now there’s so, so much, and it’s all right there in your face, and like the proverbial all-you-can-eat buffet, it gets less appetizing the more you consume. I watch a lot of makeup YouTube (don’t judge) and it’s interesting, the same thing is happening now in cosmetics. There are a lot of new indie brands (which is great!) and new, superstar brands and established brands and the rate at which they crank things out is getting ridiculous. A new Anastasia or Natasha Denona eyeshadow palette drops and everyone screams– and not from joy, necessarily.
So. If I were your Beatrice, guiding you through the inferno these days, where would I shine my lamp?
Some of my strongest, most transcendant moments of fragrance bliss have occurred over the years with CB I Hate Perfume, including being in the actual shop when it was still in Brooklyn. I’ve joked forever that Black March was created for me (it wasn’t – but it could have been, it’s that perfect) and when I look back on my long road of perfumery, CB is a brand that stands out not just for its oft-breathtaking beauty, but for its place in my life.
CB (for the unitiated) is Christopher Brosius, and he started the whole capture-a-single-fun note perfumery trend with Demeter. Then he moved on, and his creations became …. larger somehow, more starkly beautiful. Holier. Sure, the magic tricks are still there (how does he so perfectly create the smell of tomato leaf?) but once you’ve admired that side of his artistry, it’s time to step back and sniff and ponder the unmatched beauty of his vision, reflected in much of his line.
I’m not going to pretend to “understand” or speak for Christopher, so I can only speak for myself: you owe it to yourself, if you have the time and opportunity, to explore the line. Yes, there’s a lot on his site, but he’s not just cranking them out; they’ve been imagined and then created over years/decades. Do some reading on the website. What sounds good? He sells 5ml trial sizes, which is enough to let you really experience a scent.
This post is long enough already – so Part 2 will be suggestions for some of my favorite skin scents from CB. See you then.