Okay, I must be getting slow in my old age. I know I wrote about these back somewhere on here or PST (or did I just comment?) but something made me remember them and in doing so to want to give them another whirl.
CB I Hate Perfume as you all I am sure know is the creation of Christopher Brosius, who refers to himself as an “olfactory artist.” Now this sort of thing would normally have me rolling my eyes so hard my equilibrium would be permanently affected, but in his case it is more than backed up by the brilliance of his creations.
There’s a passage in Daphne du Maurier’s “Rebecca” where the un-named heroine says, after a perfect afternoon with Max de Winter “If only there could be an invention that bottled up a memory, like scent. And it never faded, and it never got stale. And then, when one wanted it, the bottle could be uncorked, and it would be like living the moment all over again.”
This is what CB I Hate Perfume has done, at least with these three.
Memory of Kindness is a paen to the scent of tomato plants: it’s tomato leaves and citrus and basil (I think) and sweet, fresh tomato flesh with a good sized helping of sun-kissed but still fecund dirt. My sister back in the day had tomato plants that she cared for and loved nearly as much as the pets and horses she liked more than most people: the plants in turn popped ripe tomatoes well past the point that the autumn cold snap should have put them to sleep. MoK takes me right back to those plants and the summer days in the garden. Oddly it really has nothing tomato-ey in it; it’s not memory of beefsteak. It’s also very wearable and really lovely.
My sample of At the Beach 1966 was from Surrender to Chance and at first I thought it was mislabled- I was getting an initial hit of something like hyacinth? But then the tide started coming in and it was more as I remembered it. At the time I was almost disturbed by it: I had tried a few of them in a row and they brought so much memory back it was as if there was some sort of shared but undiscovered bond: as if the perfumer was some sort of lost relative or I had found, like Rachael in “Blade Runner” that what I thought were my memories were merely programming to help keep me sane. But of course it’s At the Beach 1966 so it will play off my memories of Bain du Soleil, sand in my Jantzens and the surf of Long Island Sound circa 1979. It’s not something I need to own a full bottle of but it’s wonderful- like briefly putting on my pre-teen flesh. If only in scent.
Burning Leaves is a little different than I remember it as well: now I get first off that crackling fire, quite startling with its intensity. That starts to calm and becomes more the scent of leaves and embers. Anyone who grew up in New England will know the scent of this- my parent’s house was completely ringed my large maple trees that provided enough shade in summer to keep the worst of the brutal heat (and Massachusetts can rival Mississippi in the summer ick factor) and in fall turned into riots of blazing color, then fell in the yard and had to be raked. Us kids would play for hours in those leaf forts scattering them back across the lawn, only to have to rake them back up. My parents didn’t burn them (we were at the end of the time one was even allowed to) since my dad bought a gadget that sucked them up and chopped them into bits that were used to cover the flower beds over the winter, but neighbors did and the smell was glorious. I know that in the interest of breathing and not having the climate change so much that Maple trees will just combust spontaneously this sort of practice needed to go away, but it is a smell that I miss. Luckily we can revisit it without affecting the environment.
Have you tried any of these? Others in the line you like (I’m crazy about his musk..) Let us know in the comments.
All of these are available at the CB I Hate Perfume Website. I purchased Burning Leaves and Memory of Kindness there. At the Beach 1966 was from Surrender to Chance. Photos are from Pexels and my iPhone.
Burning Leaves layered over Hermes Eau des Merveilles is my go to, but I do adore Burning Leaves on its own.
Funnily enough I wore At the Beach 1966 this very day! And, as always, am stunned by CB’s skill and talent! Thought of MoK this afternoon, when I was plucking a tomato leaf from a plant – all this before reading your post, so SNAP!
Burning Leaves is stunning, as well, though I rarely wear it. Down here folks still burn, so I get the real deal ad nauseum (okay, glorious – but – c’mon!)
Christopher is amazing!
How funny! He is crazazy talented..
Winter 1972 brought me immediately back to the smell of a winter’s evening in Denver when I was about ten. There is a very distinct smell to slushy, refreezing pavement snow right before dusk and it was captured perfectly!
I remember that smell. I moved to SoCal to get away from it ?
I am a total CB fangirl as I think you know. I ran across my wee samples of several of these recently; sometimes I can smell them and sometimes I can’t, but when I can, they are heaven for all the reasons you cite. I like (or love) all the ones you mentioned; my personal favorites are Burning Leaves (often layered with Gathering Apples, the most glorious apple orchard smell, earthy and alive rather than Yankee Candle) and, of course, Black March, which I’ve always jokingly said was made just for me — not quite spring, but a reminder that it is on its way.
Of course I remember- you were one that I was totally commiserating with that these are our memories put in a bottle and who is this guy anyway!?!
Never picked any of these up when a UK online retailer had them. Too late now as they no longer seem to be available in the UK.
I adore that green snap scent of tomato stems & leaves so that would be my choice to try.
Autumn leaf burning smells of UK Bonfire Night to me on 5th November. On the 6th everywhere smelt of bonfires with a crackle of firework gunpowder. There was usually a smog too.
I have few olfactory beachy memories until I was in my 20s. Beaches prior to the 80s smelt of salt, seaweed, engine fumes, beer, nasty cheap hotdogs & candy floss. Beaches in the North of the UK are not conducive to sun bathing & my brother & I were far too Irish of skin & hair to enjoy the aftermath of sunlight!
Really enjoyed your writing & memories today. An escape from real life, thank you
I think you would enjoy MoK
As for the sun. I am far too pale to enjoy it much and have had the sunburn (once, and once was enough) to prove it. After 30 years in SoCal I have merely achieved beige on my face and my body is still milky, glow-in-the-dark white..
No freckles? If I catch sun on my face my freckles join hands & play Ring a Roses! I look like a skewbald pony! Cute on a strawberry blonde child, anti-cute on a pensioner! All that patchiness along with brows & lashes that go white! Cancel the pony, more like a Guinea pig!
Eau de Campagne is my tomato stem fix. The bubble bath & soap is bliss
omg! this made me LOL!
LOVE this stuff. A few years ago CB did a Narcissus that blew my mind. It was feral and gorgeous. Smelled like the murder of spring and I loved it sick. there’s a tiny smudge of it left in a decant here. HEAVEN!
I really need to hit STC and try a few more of these. He is brilliant. And quite a hottie if I remember correctly.
Wonderful writing Tom. Loved hearing your memories that these scents conjured up for you. I may have sniffed them in store, but I haven’t worn them.
They are evocative, but also quite wearable. I am enjoying them a lot.
I really wish these were available here. Years ago, someone gifted me with a couple in the denser strength and I loved them. Fairly recently, I bought some in the water perfume strength from StC and was so excited when they arrived. But they simply didn’t work on me. Soap accord in all of them. The ones I want to have another go with are Black March, In the Summer Kitchen, Wild Hunt and Fire from Heaven.
I wasn’t a big fan of the water perfume versions myself- I want the full strength. I’m sorry you can’t get these in the EU. I thick STC has at least some of them in full strength- I got one of mine from them.
There seems to be a fair dose of galbanum in The Memory of Kindness. To me, it’s sometimes a difficult note to digest, but in tomato leaf, it seems to be in a good company.
I’m sure there is- it’s very green. And very lovely. I love the tomato leaf; it’s really a wonderful scent