A SCENT BY ANY OTHER NAME
5 Minutes with Christopher Brosius
Step off the L train’s Grand Street stop in Brooklyn’s Bushwick and turn the corner to the still industrial part of a gentrifying neighbourhood. Coming to a halt at an inconspicuous building, I buzz the CB I Hate Perfume (CBIHP) for the store and studio and am quickly welcomed in. Up the stairs I walk and enter a radically transformed space.
The interior of the showroom (and store) takes on a minimalist approach with few decorations, leaving one to focus on the two large shelves of scents. On display is CBIHP’s series of perfumes and complementing home sprays. It is only a moment standing in awe before I am whisked away to meet the genius with a nose – Christopher Brosius.
I exit out of the studio and quickly crossover to artist’s studio. Flasks greet me to my right as I walk through the workspace and enter a sunlit space with private access to a deck. Stacks of books on fashion and style fill the shelves that wrap around the room.
Reclined in his seat, Brosius regales to me a short story on how he accidentally fell into the perfume industry during his time at Kiehl’s, assisting on custom experiments and also tinkering on his own. In 2004, Brosius tells me, he finally seized the opportunity to do what he had always wanted; hence, the creation of CBIHP. The striking name provokes me to ask “why the name?” The answer is a simplistic one – a desire to want to make people think.
It is then that I am inclined to ask about the manifesto, written in 1992 and then revised in 2004. What was the actual change, and why?
“It takes ten years to learn how to make perfume, and twenty to master,” Brosius says. The change in the manifesto is a slight one, changing the word “scent” to “perfume.” The perfume maker mentions that it was a level of comfort achieved over the course of twelve years.
Cool breezes waft in and out of the space throughout our conversation. The decision to move away from Williamsburg becomes more and more apparent with the intimacy achieved in this neighbourhood. Where Williamsburg is consistently bustling, well into the evening, Bushwick still offers a reprieve from New York’s hustle and bustle, which, in turn, allows Brosius to add final touches to his projects in the dead silence of the night.
As our time comes to an end, Brosius suddenly turns around to present a beautifully crafted cloth-bound box to celebrate the company’s 10 years of business. Housing a complete collection of the perfumes to date, the box leaves room for the future – empty slots to be filled with upcoming scents.
For a parting gift, I receive my own empty CBIHP bottle to fill with a fitting scent at a later date, as well as a bottle of “Outside,” which possesses an extract of a plant that repels bugs, in preparation for the summer weather. The store is open Tuesday toThursday by appointment only; Friday and Saturday are open for walk-ins.
Photo credit: Michael Weiss