CB I Hate Perfume’s At The Beach 1966


On a recent trip to Bard College to see sculptor and video artist Helen Marten’s solo show (it’s up until September 22; I highly recommend it), I confirmed my life-long suspicion that time travel is very real. Thumbing through Marten's catalogue on my way home, I discovered an essay by designer Kit Grover, who asserts, “Time travel does exist,” explaining that it’s something we all get to do, on a regular basis, via our noses. Grover talks about scent memory as the “olfactory miracle” that collapses “our perception of memory/space/time” and sends us packing down memory lane. Of course, this must be what perfumers have in mind when they name a cologne, say, 1996 or CDG Paris. They're banking on your immediate emotional connection to a time/place (in your life or an imagined one) when/where you felt especially alive, relaxed, happy, in love, etc. Which is exactly what happened the moment I first caught a whiff of CB I Hate Perfume’s At The Beach, 1966.

I have no personal experience with what the 1960s smelled like (Serge Gainsbourg’s pheromones?), but At The Beach’s mysterious combination of notes meant to evoke "Coppertone sunscreen," "wet sand," and "driftwood"—a mixture that’s more warm-skin-soaked-with-salt-water-and-zinc than mud-and-seaweed—had me mentally reliving my teenage years as a new California transplant. One spritz, in fact, and it was like I was running to the Pacific Ocean to check the waves, slathering my 16-year-old face with sunscreen. (It doesn’t hurt that it was around that time that I was first learning how to drive/be in love/surf.) It was my first taste of individuality and freedom—it’s probably the scent memory for which I'm most likely to get nostalgic.

In her Top Shelf, Inez van Lamsweerde explains such seminal moments like this: “…The time when [you are] a teenager and finding out who [you are]. I think that is what stays with you, for always, for everyone. It’s when you’re discovering your identity through music, fashion, or hair and makeup. That’s where, at least for me, a lot of inspiration comes from.” She couldn't be more right. Between the beach hair and the glowy bronzed makeup, everything about my current look, I'm realizing, is about channeling that teenage moment of empowerment.

So of course I want to smell like it, too. CB I Hate Perfume's At The Beach made that possible. And, naturally, it doesn’t feel like I’m 'wearing perfume,' because, for one, it smells like sunscreen, but also, it smells like me—me then. It has become, in Grover's words, “skin.” Anyone else have a seminal-moment scent?

—Mackenzie Wagoner

Photos by Mathea Millman.

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  • Gina Carpellotti

    Oh how I miss popping by CB I Hate Perfume's store!

  • Jane T.

    Too many scent memories to count! My father has Burning Leaves by this brand, and it reminds me of going to bonfire parties -- really cozy and warm, fall nights, bit of a liquor jacket. I definitely also love smelling (but not necessarily wearing) perfumes that I used when I was younger. Marc Jacobs was the first elegant scent that I tried, so gardenia based scents bring me back.

  • Alexandra

    I love CB's Winter 1972. It's the perfect balance between the smell of snow and forest soil, while at the same time being very elegant, in an expensive vintage leather bag kind of way. It somehow unites actual childhood memories - roaming through the woods; building snow castles and pretending to live in them ;) - with imaginary ones: the fragrance of an old, stately library, filled with leather-bound books. For a perfume, that's quite an accomplishment.

  • Genevieve

    Lovely piece!

  • tera

    So much- I remember the initial conversations I had with a guy who turned out to be the person I was closest to in the whole world for the next 4 years... he was wearing Le Male and this skin oil he always wore from his home in Morocco. I always sniff that crazy blue sailor bottle when I see it in stores, and am immediately back in the hallway where we met. What was so striking was our conversations, because he showed me the world through his point of view, and changed my middle -of -the-U.S (sorry, but I was quite dense) mind forever about people and cultures I had no idea about. After getting to know him, NOTHING is the same. I always believe if you personally know someone on the other side of a conflict, an opinion, whatever, you will be able to look at the situation with new eyes. People are more alike than different, and that's what I remember with a tiny sniff of Le Male. I really miss him.

  • SM



CB I Hate Perfume
At The Beach 1966 Perfume