At the same time, the mainstream perfume world has its classics that continue to do quite well. Last year, the highest-selling perfumes in the country were Chanel’s Coco Mademoiselle, which was introduced to the market a decade ago, followed by Giorgio Armani’s Acqua Di Giò for men, now fifteen years old. Brand loyalty, Brosius says, is another reason that many of the big manufacturers don’t see the need for new, innovative scents.
“A lot of executives have minds as flat as Holland,” he says. “I don’t mean the tulip fields; we’re talking about the gray, dreary salt marshes. The only thing they care about is money … You know, that whole ‘Let’s find the universal thing,’ which I know is a big deal in the perfume world. Well, how boring is that? ‘Oh, gee, let’s make one perfume that everybody on the planet is going to love.’ And they’re all going to wear it? I mean, I need to go somewhere else, please.”
Customers are part of the problem too. He points toward Manhattan and drops a bomb he deploys often. “Frankly, if you’re the kind of person who needs a perfume to express who you are … well, Sephora is on that side of the river, thank you very much.”
Invisible perfume has almost been perfected. After two years, Brosius realized the missing ingredient was sex. He added natural amber to the mix. “Of the God-knows-how-many molecules that have been found in the chemical composition of amber, several of them are uncannily similar to human hormones,” he says. “I’m fairly certain that’s why it’s been so popularly used in perfume throughout history. It smells like us. It smells human.” And human smells attract us to each other.
As with the jasmine and sandalwood, he diluted the amber so that when the fumes leave the bottle and mix with the natural oils of your skin, they won’t smell like much at all. “This perfume is highly individualized. It’s not going to smell the same on each person; it’s only going to magnify what’s already there.” Namely, you.
He’s also settled on a name for his invisible masterpiece: Where We Are There Is No Here. “It will be a secret pleasure. The question ‘What perfume are you wearing?’ should never arise.”
Meanwhile, Brosius has turned his attention to his next masterpiece. “It’s very much the kind of perfume I like to make, because people will say, ‘Oh, this is unwearable,’ ” he says. “It’s something that smells incredibly attractive, but it bears absolutely no resemblance to what anybody would think of as perfume.”
So, what is it?
“Roast beef,” he says.
“Cooked,” he says. “It’s Sunday dinner. It’s the roast beef, the gravy, the mashed potatoes, the roasted carrots, the works. I figured out how to do it. This is actually going to be good. This is going to smell terrific.”