With so many perfume launches per year and the overwhelming number of niche houses that seem to be popping up all over the place, it stands to reason that one has to give in to the fact that not everything can be tried, and in some cases entire lines must be ignored for the sake of one’s sanity. For me, CB I Hate Perfume was one of these lines that unfortunately fell by the wayside.
I’m not entirely sure why I have ignored CB I Hate Perfume for so long, Christopher Brosius is regarded as somewhat of an industry maverick and his appearance in BBC4’s Perfume documentary last year should have piqued my interest, but instead it had the opposite affect. Instead I couldn’t help but feel that line was just a gimmick hiding behind an eccentric personality – watch me eat my words.
I recently had the opportunity to try the two latest CB I Hate Perfume fragrances (in water perfume concentration); 7 Billion Hearts and M5 Where We Are There Is No Here. The names didn’t fill me with a huge amount of confidence, they again sounded quite gimmicky, but I’m always happy to be proved wrong and despite the names both of these new offerings from CB I Hate Perfume are beautifully unusual.
7 Billion Hearts
“There are now or shortly will be seven billion people on the planet. Seven billion souls hoping and dreaming. Seven billion hearts beating. One of them inevitably beats for you.” 
Vanilla and Smoky Notes 
How Does it Smell?
Like the best vanilla extract in the world.
7 Billion Hearts is part of CB I Hate Perfume’s Reinvention Series and was inspired by the “gorgeous rich sensual vanilla/amber perfumes of the early 20th century” . The idea behind it stems from the fact that vanilla is one of the best loved smells on the planet, yet the amount of vanilla grown simply cannot satiate the human hunger for it, therefore the majority used in perfumery is synthetic. With 7 Billion Hearts Brosius wanted to present a ‘true vanilla’ to really show the value of one of the world’s most beautiful materials.
The vanilla in 7 Billion Hearts is a blend of absolutes from Tahiti and Madagascar and the difference between this vanilla and the vanilla in almost every other perfume is startling, even shocking. 7 Billion Hearts opens with beautifully smoky, warm vanilla that is a tiny bit sour and smells just like the seeds scraped from the pods. The vanilla is a strange vanilla, it feels rich and pure as you would expect from ‘the real thing’ but at times it can feel like a vanilla seen through a kaleidoscopic lens, casting new shapes and colours of onto the skin.
This kaleidoscopic vanilla is also something of a shape-shifter, it seems to be constantly evolving and changing. It starts out slightly sour, then becomes velvety sweet before progressing into toasted sugar and caramel territory. It eventually ends up as a blend of salty caramel and lightly smoky amber. Perhaps the most surprising thing about 7 Billion Hearts is despite the melange of wonderful gourmand notes it never feels cloying or sticky, it is in fact quite light.
Vanilla lovers are guaranteed to love 7 Billion Hearts but I think it is charming enough to transcend genres, it is after all a rather beautiful perfume, and I can see that it would perhaps win over those who don’t think they like vanilla due to its dry, smoky and very natural take on the most classic of notes. 7 Billion Hearts may be pricey (£200 for the water perfume) but it is totally worth it.
M5 Where We Are There Is No Here
“405 is a paradox – the antithesis of perfume. It is completely intangible and almost undetectable. Yet it has great presence and allure. Like the ghost of a flower, it touches the subconscious of those who wear it and those who encounter it.” 
ISO E Super, Hedione, Moroccan Jasmine, Indian Jasmine, Egyptian Jasmine, Amber, Australian Sandalwood, Mysore Sandalwood and Musk 
How Does It Smell?
I have to admit that I wasn’t too excited about trying M5 Where We Are There Is No Here, hereafter simply referred to as M5, because the idea of these ‘anti-perfumes’ frankly nark me. Perfumes such as the Escentric Molecules and Juliette Has a Gun’s Not a Perfume are annoying as they are dull. But whatever cynicism I approached M5 with was quickly dissolved, it is a perfume, one that is utterly compelling and beautiful but in a remarkable and unexpected way.
M5 was inspired by Jean Cocteau’s last film (Le Testament d’Orphée) and is described by Brosius as being “…made to create a special place in the inner world. The world of poetry. The world of the imagination. The world of the surreal.”  Surreal is perhaps the perfect word for M5 because I struggle to find another perfume that smells in any way like it, it does stand alone, and although I don’t think it is a perfume that I would wear regularly I do find myself somewhat bewitched whenever I put it on.
CB I Hate Perfume’s foray into the anti-perfume spectrum opens with pepper, woods and leather, all of which fizzle out rapidly before making way for the jasmine. The jasmine is the main player in M5, but it’s not like any jasmine I have smelled. This jasmine is an alien jasmine (much more alien than the jasmine used in Mugler’s Alien), it has a spine-tingling presence that feels like a ghostly breath lurking in the shadows. Just like hot breath it has a sour indolic quality that at once feels both pleasant and disturbing.
Despite its pungency, M5 is an impossibly quiet fragrance and it wears closer to the skin than any other skin scent I have experienced before – you really have to plant your nose firmly against your wrists to smell it. It is utterly captivating but it’s not something I would wear, I like to be able to SMELL my perfumes and although I think its a great essay in how to make a beautiful skin scent I won’t be purchasing a bottle.
Both 7 Billion Hearts and M5 Where We Are There Is No Here are available in 2ml & 15ml perfume absolute and 100ml water perfume. All concentrations are available via CB I Hate Perfume and the water perfumes are also available from Escentual. Prices range £20-£215.
The water perfumes are definitely an interesting idea, Brosius chooses to use distilled water and oil over alcohol because “oil and water are what the skin needs to hold fragrance the longest” , but the water does take longer to dry and can become frothy if the bottle is shaken. I’m still on the fence as to whether I prefer water over alcohol.
This review is based on samples of 7 Billion Hearts and Where We Are There Is No Here Water Perfumes supplied by Escentual.com.
Image 1 trendland.net
Image 2 tsvetnoy.com
Image 3 needsupply.com
All quotes via cbihateperfume.com