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On the Rise: The scent of rubber cement

Perfumer rebels against industry to create strange scents

Christopher Brosius
Christopher Brosius creates unusual perfumes, including roast beef.


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(CNN) -- Christopher Brosius, a creator and seller of unusual perfumes, hates a lot of things about his industry.

He is put off by the ubiquity of big-name department store perfume brands. He is repelled by loud, in-your-face scents. And he is dispirited by the widespread perception of perfume as a very expensive scent in a gorgeous little bottle.

For these reasons, and many more, Brosius calls his New York City-based perfume shop: CB I Hate Perfume.

"It really is a paradox. It's not entirely true. I don't hate perfume. I actually love it. But there are some things about it that in general I do hate," Brosius told CNN.

Brosius opened CB I Hate Perfume in July 2004, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, an artsy neighborhood just a short train ride from Manhattan. He makes all of his store's perfumes from scratch and specializes in creating unique scents that mimic real life smells, such as snow or rubber cement or even skunk.

"Having had a Labrador who had an accident with a skunk in the country, I know how awful it can be. But then there is also the pleasure of driving through the country in the evening, and you can catch a tiny, tiny subliminal whiff of that from the woods's a wonderful experience," he says.

Brosius also creates custom perfumes for clients. These start at $200 for a small bottle and range up to $2000 for the most complex fragrances. More basic scents cost between $25 and $280.

Brosius builds his perfumes from accords, which are simple scents that can be natural or synthetic in composition. "Accords are basically the words that compose the story of a fragrance," he says.

The natural ones are drawn directly from flowers or bushes or bark, materials that have been used in perfume creation for centuries and vary from year to year, like wine. The synthetic accords are conjured in a laboratory.

One synthetic smell Brosius has been chasing for years is gasoline. He hasn't gotten it yet, but plans to keep trying, because it's his most requested scent.

"It's always, with very few exceptions, women. They light up and they're like, 'You know what smell I really love? When I'm filling up my car with gas'," he says.

Brosius enjoys fielding requests from customers. He says he's willing to create just about any kind of scent, even if it's something other people might find disgusting.

"I take a very democratic approach to perfume in many respects," he says. "One person's beautiful Moroccan cedar is an exotic trip to Marrakesh, and to someone else it smells exactly like changing a hamster cage. They're both right."

Even with this democratic approach, Brosius admits no one will want to wear some of his more outrageous creations.

"I have a brilliant roast beef," he says. "It smells exactly like Sunday lunch. You can even get the gravy, the mashed potatoes, the carrots. It is, I think, un-wearable. It's a gorgeous smell, but even I haven't figure out how to use that in a fragrance."

This doesn't bother Brosius because he sees perfume as a discipline that is more artistic in nature than commercial. And although he's become known for some of his more outrageous perfume creations, Brosius works with traditional scents, too.

"I love to do flowers, but not necessarily in the way that they'd be used in a classic fragrance," he says. "I like them to smell fresh. So for me, the flowers are all about: How do these bluebells smell when they are in an English forest? Or does this orchid really smell like it does in the rainforests in China?"

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