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Violet Empire - Maple trees, Spring accords

Violet Empire - cbihateperfume,com

This is a bit of a ramble, so here goes……

Our house in downtown Toronto is surrounded by maple trees, which is not unusual in this city. Canada is the land of the maple leaf – it’s on our flag, our unofficial anthem is “The Maple Leaf Forever”.

The maple is famous, of course, for the breath-taking landscapes it creates when cool fall weather turns the leaves every shade of yellow and red. What you might not know is that the maple tree also produces sap, flowers, and seeds in huge quantities. The sap starts to run in the spring (maple syrup season) and from mid-April through to mid-May it’s a constant barrage of either sticky liquid or green stuff that falls from the huge trees and coats roofs and verandas, fills up gutters and drains, and carpets gardens, paths and driveways. This demands four weeks of constant cleaning and sweeping. It’s a pain.

Last Friday dawned warm and sunny after a night of showers. I stepped into the front garden on a new layer of shiny green maple keys, and was immediately immersed in an achingly evocative cloud of scent – spring in all its glory – a mix of raindrops and sun on lilacs, ornamental cherry, and maple trees in full bloom. I wanted to capture this moment of perfect scent, keep it close and savour it forever.

As I walked to work, I thought about smells in life – seasons, places, people, dogs, plants, things, stuff – that are so deeply rooted in our personal experience. This led me to think of the perfumer Christopher Brosius (a long time getting here but it’s the way my mind works). I remembered visiting his shop in Brooklyn a couple of years ago, and being fascinated by what was on the shelves.

The best way to describe Christopher Brosius is perfume artist. He founded Demeter, a fragrance line famous for Dirt, Snow, and other  off-the-wall scents, sold Demeter and started CB I Hate Perfume, the company which totally reflects his unique creative approach.

It’s a weird name for a perfume brand, but this artist dislikes mass perfumes, and the name kind of puts that up front.  He set out to create reality-based scents that reflect his own life experiences, and tell stories that can be shared. Fragrances with names such as In the Library, To see a Flower, In the Summer Kitchen, Memory of Kindness, call up memories and images of time and place for anyone who runs their nose past the top of the bottle.

As well as evocative perfumes, Christopher has also created several Accord Series, which is unusual in perfume ranges. On his website, he describes an accord as the smell of a specific flower, place, thing, and he views accords as the “words” which he uses to tell a story – they are the vocabulary of perfume. He uses the oils from real plants as well as synthetics so that he can fulfil his mission, which is to “capture and bottle every possible pleasant smell” – things like bruschetta, cheesecake, hedgerow, a leather baseball glove, lipstick, pesto, tidal pools. (Given the range of accords he’s produced so far, he will likely complete his mission.)

So here’s where this ramble wraps up. The accord of spring which I smelled in my garden was Brosius-worthy, and it reminded me strongly of a fragrance I bought at his shop, which is called Violet Empire. This is a water-based perfume, but it is an accord of a specific flower – and what a flower!

This is violet as I’d never smelled it before –  violets in a bed of green grasses, green violet leaves crushed by foraging deer, an aura of fresh mint, damp resinous woods, leather.  A moment in time in the woods - fresh, ever so slightly sweet, shining green– the smell of spring. 

Christopher Brosius’s experience, but mine, too.

Violet Empire is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $5.00 for 1 ml.