The Pierre Benard Challenge Continued: Burning Leaves

Ever since I started writing these pieces, I have been more attuned to the scents of the world around me. A couple nights ago as the poodles participated in the twilight bark, I observed a haze in the air. Once my nose caught up to my eyes, I knew someone was burning leaves nearby.

Burning leaves is a characteristic smell of autumn. Because nature provides the fuel. After you spend a few hours raking them up. The act of placing them in a fire pit to burn has a primal feel to it. When my neighbor does his burn, I usually end up chatting with him while the flames rise. Last year I realized this is one of the last shared moments of the year. The temperatures will get colder and we will most likely not spend time talking until spring returns.

What I enjoy about the smell of burning leaves is it doesn’t have the weight of a bonfire of wood. Woodsmoke bites. The scent of burning leaves has an inherent sweeter component. The smoke also seems less oppressive. There is something magical about watching the leaves rise on the thermals trailing sparks as they immolate. I usually get a reminder of the smell for a few days after as my sweatshirt holds the scent.

There is only one great perfume which gets the difference between woodsmoke and burning leaves. That is CB I Hate Perfume Burning Leaves. Perfumer Christopher Brosius is at his best in creating a perfume which captures the difference.

I expect I’ll be spending an evening with my neighbor in a few days. Looking through the flames to the Holidays and the New Year.

Mark Behnke

Under the Radar: CB I Hate Perfume Burning Leaves- Autumn Evenings

There is a type of perfume which attempts to capture a natural scent not in abstract ways but as a photorealistic composition. One of the most accomplished perfumers at doing that is Christopher Brosius. At the beginning of the niche perfume expansion he helped create this, first at Demeter before founding his own line in 2004; CB I Hate Perfume. The name is Mr. Brosius’ succinct raison d’etre. He has created over forty perfumes which do not smell like what most people think is perfume. Over the past few years he has not been as visible as he was. One of my favorite perfumes by him is Burning Leaves which I bring out every October.

On the website Mr. Brosius tells of his distaste of autumn raking as a child. The silver lining was the burning of the leaves after they were finished. Watching them go up in flames while breathing in the smoke is what is captured in the bottle.

Christopher Brosius

What has always impressed me about these photorealistic perfumes by Mr. Brosius is they are constructed in such a complete fashion. Manty perfumes in this style allow you to feel the assembly of the accord as the different pieces fit together. Almost all of Mr. Brosius’ perfumes come out pre-assembled while maintaining their cohesion throughout the time on my skin.

In Burning Leaves that means a couple of things. First this is burning leaves not burning wood. That means a lighter scent of smoke. Not the cade oil sledgehammers you find in other smoky fragrances. It also means the leaves we are burning are maple leaves. Mr. Brosius adds in a thread of sweet dried leaves before they catch fire. There is an intriguing mixture of intensity and fragility throughout the time I am wearing Burning Leaves.

Burning Leaves has 6-8 hour longevity and wears close to the skin with little to no sillage. Burning Leaves comes in a water-based formulation. It generally has the effect of making these perfumes last a shorter time on my skin while also limiting projection.

Mr. Brosius is one of our most gifted independent perfumers. There isn’t anyone who does what he does in fragrance. If you haven’t discovered his perfume you are in for a treat. They definitely deserve to be on your radar. Burning Leaves is a great place to start.

Disclosure: This review is based on a bottle I purchased.

Mark Behnke