Tuesday, March 04, 2014

CB I Hate Perfume: New Address, New Concept, New Clients?

I'm not sure how I feel about this.

The good news first: after a long wait and a process that lasted the better part of a year, CB I Hate Perfume gallery will open in a new space: 318 Maujer Street, 3rd floor (between Waterbury & Morgan), Brooklyn. It's further away, in Bushwick, in what seems like an even more industrial area (the previous location in Williamsburg went through a gentrification and hipsterizaion right in front of our eyes). You'd think this would have made CB I Hate Perfume into more of a Brooklyn thing, right?


This is directly from the press release:

"Along with the new address comes a new strategy for how the luxury perfume brand intends to engage and interact with their customer. With a desire to give his clients the most exclusive and personal shopping experience possible, Christopher Brosius, the company’s namesake perfumer, has decided that from Tues-Thurs the shop will receive customers by appointment only.
Customers will receive personal attention as they shop the store for CB’s cult scents, and concierge services will be available for those who book appointments, including perks such as refreshments and a car service to and from Manhattan."
The press release adds that while the gallery will be open for walk-ins on Friday and Saturday they still suggests making an appointment. This comes in the wake of the news about the newest offering from CB, a set called "The Box" that contains the entire current line in 15ml bottles of the absolute concentration, signed and numbered, with a booklet, customized blotters, and a certificate of authenticity.  To own this beauty you'll have to shell out $6,500 without RARE FLOWERS or $10,500 with RARE FLOWERS. (RARE FLOWERS is a mini collection of even more rare and pricey absolutes).

Out of  respect for Christopher Brosius who's one of my favorite contemporary perfumers I'll try not to make fun of the statement that The Box is
"an exclusive luxury item which has never been seen before in the perfume industry."
I'll just remind you of this (yes, extraits of all the classic Guerlains):

And mention that even the tacky Bond No.9 had something similar around the holidays.

In any case, it's clear that Brosius is aiming for a different clientele than the die-hard fragonerds. It seems to be less about the perfumes and more about a certain image and experience. I have a feeling the new gallery won't be as welcoming to a group of us who wander in, try stuff on every last patch of exposed skin (including behind the knees), sniff each other, analyze the notes and make comparisons before buying a bottle.

Is it a smart business decision? Maybe so. I have no data about the perfume spending habits of people who require concierge services. I'm more of a get into the car and drive to the boutique kind of gal and prefer no fussing and hovering when I sniff things. But what do I know? I only own six or seven CB I Hate Perfume bottles and have no intention to purchase The Box.

What do you think?



  1. Peculiar. I tend to ignore any brand or store that uses phrases like "exclusive," "cult," or "conciege services." Also, this has been a NYC company for so long, and now they're assuming that we can't even take the damn subway from Manhattan? Car service, really? I've met enough Midwestern-transplant 20-somethings living in Bushwick that I'm not afraid to make the trip out there by train and then by foot. Maybe they really do want wealthy tourists and other customers only interested in "luxury" (in its most trite permutations: e.g. car service!).

    Will the store be open to the public on weekends? In that case, I could see the "by appointment" weekdays as a way to save payroll costs, at least.

  2. Wh...what??? I feel like instead of the initials CB this should read JAR. And that I could understand and not be surprised about. I love JAR and have no problems with the mystery, pricing, buying experience, etc...rather like it, actually - it fits. My problem here is that this is really not matching with my sense of what I thought CB was about and I guess that's my problem, not his. It's just that I've loved CB since his Demeter days. Have always had total respect and admiration for him, his philosophy and his scents (his Cradle of Light has been a long time top rotation favorite of mine), but this new definition of CBIHP as a "luxury brand" and the private consultation days seem really exclusionary. The private consultation is not at all an experience I'd feel comfortable with unless I had unlimited funds available and, sadly, I don't. Maybe he feels it will give him more creative freedom to move more and more towards higher end scents. I'm just going to have to readjust my thoughts about what CBIHP is about.

  3. I always find using the word "exclusive" as a selling point to be very off-putting. I don't want things more because other people aren't allowed to have them (and then, often enough, I'm the person who's not allowed to have them!). It's like the haute perfume version of that douchey guy from Abercrombie and Fitch saying his tacky mall clothes are only for the cool kids and he doesn't want everyone to be able to wear them.

  4. It sounds as though he's going after the kind of customer who a) can afford to spend thousands of dollars on perfume and b) doesn't want to rub elbows with anyone who can't afford to spend thousands of dollars on perfume - in other words, perfume snobs who don't necessarily know anything about perfume.

  5. Very at-odds with my perception of CBIHP. I mean, the name alone suggests--to me, at least--something other than a "luxury perfume brand." I've thoroughly enjoyed--and owned--many of his scents, and did trek out to the old Wmsburg shop years ago, which was a pleasure. But this (seemingly) new approach and attitude puts me off. I imagine that'll be okay with CB, as I'm certainly not the target audience for his big Box o' scents.

  6. By appointment only is definitely not a new concept but it is an affectation that seems to have had its day and is no longer relevant. Having had the dubious distinction of shopping by appointment only, I can say first hand that there is a lot of pressure and the expectation that you'll be shelling out big bucks is front and center. It certainly discourages browsing and makes it difficult to leave empty handed or with only a small purchase. And then, there is the implied we-know-better-than-you attitude that seems to be bred into the SA's. But, if CB can pull in a status conscious moneyed class and then pressure people into purchasing multiple scents (I'm sure the personal service will involve a lot of layering so as to "customize" a scent), there is a lot of money to be made.

    I'm not a fragrance enthusiast and so I cannot relate to this dilemma directly, but I know how much I love to shop unimpeded and, yes, at 69 I really do know best what suits me :-)

  7. Ha! and i just received my lovely sampler set from Ormonde Jayne, featuring small spritzers of each of the perfumes, with a booklet describing each...

  8. I shopped at the old I Hate Perfume a number of times, and have bought lots of perfume there. It was definitely an important destination for fragrance fans. This seems like a catastrophically bad idea: not only will the move towards appointment-only shopping alienate CB's core fanbase (which is, like me, decidedly NOT rich and fancy), but in addition I Hate Perfume absolutely does not make mainstream fragrances that will be friendly to your average fancy rich person. This reads directly as a screw-you to perfume fans. Hopefully he fails badly so that nobody else is enticed to pull this kind of anti-consumer stunt.

  9. I love it when people begin to take themselves too seriously! It always makes me laugh!

  10. You know what brand this would work beautifully for? House of Sillage. A personal shopper to help you pick out the perfect $400 Swarovski cupcake bottle or three. I've heard that the perfumes are actually done by respected noses and are pretty good, but all their marketing is just so trashpirational that it's hard for me to get past it.

  11. Car service from Manhattan? Chi-chi! Does the town car have one of those pine tree cardboard fresheners with a Brosius scent? I jest of course. Sounds horrid.

  12. All the best to him. He clearly has his reasons and if he can save himself some payroll costs, then great. But this kind of shopping experience sounds like my shopping hell (I just want to be left alone with the tester bottles), and any time I might make it to New York I will not be seeking it out. Then again, I am clearly not his target customer, neither being New York based, nor wishing to spend $6500 on The Box.

  13. As a Brooklyn resident, it makes me think that appointment only hours serve to exclude the residents of the neighborhood which is still in the process of gentrification. It would seem that CB moved to a more affordable rental area but aims to keep clients coming by offering car service so that they can avoid taking the subway and rubbing elbows with the rest of us in all our colorful neighborhoods.

    I'm also not 100% happy that you need to be buzzed in to visit The Twisted Lily on Atlantic. Atelier Cologne opened a shop close by and they do not keep their door locked.

    All I say is that when in Brooklyn, do as we do, put aside the affectation and come back to earth.

  14. I'm not a fan of this sort of thing. Personally I would never go in for it as it would make me feel more pressure to buy something rather than an off-the-street impulse walk in. Things like 'the box' just make me laugh as now we're going into Roja Dove price territory (I assume his regular stuff stays the same prices, or is that undergoing a luxury hike?). I just don't think it's sustainable as a long-term business plan. It also reminds me a bit of the infamous London boutique Voyage in the 90s - famous for keeping the doors locked and only letting in who they thought was worthy - which wasn't many people, basically it was whoever was famous or rich or caught their fancy on the day as being suitably Voyage worthy) - they had a few years of hype and then they were gone. I'm not sure what I find worse, this sort of ultra-luxury or someone like Bond, who churns out another scent every 5 minutes, it seems and cheapens the concept of niche as a result (although to be fair niche doesn't mean what it used to, it's more a snobbery term than anything else. I would consider true niche to be people like SSS, Slumberhouse, Andy Tauer, Vero Kern)

  15. Won't be buying the box, much though I swoon over some of the IHP offerings (Burning Leaves, why do I adore you so?). The Guerlain box did, however, inspire a certain degree of lust I'm not completely comfortable admitting to myself (meaning, I might seriously overextend my budget at some future date).

    As to the comments about how Gaia shops for perfume: LOL!! OMG, do I *hate* being hovered over as I try to enjoy some personal time with the fragrances on offer. There is simply nothing more frustrating than what happens at my local SFA's Guerlain and Tom Ford counters. Do they not know I *need* to have some alone time as I ponder some of these potential gems?

  16. Where did the fun go?

  17. I only get to New York once or twice a year. Three times if I'm lucky. I already find it difficult to visit everyone I want to see and all the shops, while fitting in everything else on my trip schedule. This move and exclusivity just made it likely to be that much harder to fit in. In a way, that makes it that much easier to scratch off my list of things to do and places to go to.

  18. I think there is some overreaction to the by-appointment-only thing. It might just be that he doesn't expect a lot of foot traffic in Bushwick Monday-Thursday and it makes it easier to assure that the place is staffed when people do come by. It already took a bit of planning to go to the Wburg store--why not call ahead and let them know? I have no problem with this.


I love comments and appreciate the time you take to connect with me, but please do not insert links to your blog or store. Those will be deleted. The comment feature is not intended to provide an advertising venue for your blog or your commercial site.

Related Posts Widget