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In which I am brave: A visit to the CB I Hate Perfume gallery

Inside of the CB I Hate Perfume gallery in BrooklynThree hours’ driving time, folks. Three. Hours. And I only live 20 miles away!

Last month I finally ventured into the wilds of Brooklyn to see this gallery. While I am not at all shy about perfume wearing, I sometimes have a problem with perfume shopping, especially in stores. While I do not hesitate to wear Amouage, for instance, I had a hard time going into Bergdorf Goodman’s to test it the first time. (Now I love the beauty floor of Bergdorf Goodman. It’s like Tiffany’s to Holly Golightly. Nothing bad could ever happen in there.)

As you might notice from these photos here (I didn’t take photos of the place but these are better), CB I Hate Perfume is not a tony shop. It is, in fact, a small studio space on a rather grotty street in Brooklyn. I knew this. Nonetheless I had a hard time getting up the energy to go there, as if I were afraid Christopher Brosius might set his dog on me, or have his assistants drum me out of the shop as a faker. “Your nose sucks!” he would yell, waving his – cane or coffee cup or something aggressive at me. “You do not deserve my perfumes! Get out!”

This of course did not happen. Primarily because Christopher Brosius wasn’t there.

It took us over an hour to get there, via the “fastest route” (and the traffic wasn’t that bad, either; it was just enough traffic, over just enough twisty turny roads, to make the journey a bit of a slog). If I hadn’t been seized with a bout of adventurousness, I never would have made it. My poor husband, who “came along for the ride”, survived but might never be the same.

We got there, in the way of my stupidest shopping trips, about fifteen minutes before they closed. I do this often. I actually think it’s a survival mechanism, since otherwise, in a fit of excitement at actually entering the place, if I had more time I might simply buy more stuff. As it was I bought a fragrance I quite liked but had no time to think about (In the Library) and would have bought two more of the single notes but was stopped merely by the fact that they didn’t have them. (Moroccan Mint Tea is a fragrance with which I have a special relationship, and of course that one was not only sold out it was discontinued – just out to break hearts, I suppose, like Brad Pitt in a bar. The Moroccan rose, supposedly, could be mine if I ever ventured back.)

The notes are organized, very sensibly, by number in their bins. So once you actually get the hang of browsing the place, you realize that the meat notes are all in one place, as are the grasses and the roses, and the perfumes featuring those notes are displayed nearby. I found this quite usable once I figured it out; kind of like a Dewey Decimal system for perfumes. Plus, the scent families made it possible to remember where physically in the room one had sniffed something, whereas if I had had to go by number alone I never would have made it.

There was a comfy sitting spot by the front where my beloved could sit, and unlike many perfume stores, he was not driven by the miasma of scent to go stand in the street instead. That right there says something about CB I Hate Perfume. I’m not sure what.

The assistants were very nice. The one who waited on me was wearing a combination of two scents, a tobacco/smoke smell and some patchouli (I asked him), which was ridiculously gorgeous. I didn’t want to wear it but I did want to sit around sniffing it.

Sadly, we had to leave because they had to close. Fortunately another woman came in after me and shopped as well, so I wasn’t the only reason they were staying open until the last minute. Still, I didn’t want to keep them.

Having broken the ice I’m excited to go back. But I’m not sure how. It might be easier to go from the city if I’m downtown for some reason. On the way back we came “the long way”, through Brooklyn, so that we could say we’d made the entire loop. As I said, three. Hours. I don’t know why Brooklyn is so damn big or why it’s so impossible to cross it at speed. This is someone’s very poor plan.

Next time I go I might want to have more time to browse and think. And a limo with a chauffeur.


Image is CB I Hate Perfume by NancyCZ, via Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license; some rights reserved.

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2 comments to In which I am brave: A visit to the CB I Hate Perfume gallery

  • I don’t know… I’m afraid I’m not prepared to pay those prices for something that isn’t really a perfume. Some of those that I sniffed at a store were interesting but I don’t want to wear smells – I want perfumes.

  • Judith

    I can certainly see your point. Sometimes I do want to wear smells, not perfumes, and CBIHP’s stuff is so very well made. I do like In the Library, and his individual smells are so nice to add color or volume to something else one is wearing. It’s more connect-em-all, collect-em-all toys? For those who like tinkering with paints more than appreciating finished art, perhaps?

What do you think?