Mari Kussman

Photo: Brad Paris

You work for an eccentric perfumer. What’s Christopher Brosius like?
He’s synesthetic; his senses are combined. He’ll smell something and say, “This looks very pearly and it’s gray.”

Why does he hate perfume?
In his manifesto, he laments that perfume is defined by packaging. It should be more intimate. If people can smell you from ten feet away, that’s like running through the streets screaming.

The scent-customization possibilities are endless!
Customers come in for at least two hours. We have a gallery of several hundred single accords. There are oils that can be dangerous when combined or offensive in their pure state. I once spilled aldehyde, used in Chanel No. 5. We were gagging all day.

What’s your fragrance?
Jasmine, tobacco, crushed fig leaf. I used to really like “In the Library,” made from antique-novel molecules. Christopher FedExed his favorite book to the lab.

What are the most popular single notes?
“Russian Leather,” tobaccos, and “Forest Floor,” which smells like dirt. My favorite customer wanted a scent inspired by Miss Havisham in Great Expectations—the one with the rotting feast in her living room.

The gallery’s in Williamsburg. Do you have a local haunt?
The Bedford Cheese Shop. My taste for cheese has amplified. The Beermat Kuntener cheese smells like cat pee but is delicious.

Mari Kussman