Christopher Street (2013)
by Charenton Macerations

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Christopher Street information

Year of Launch2013
GenderShared / Unisex
AvailabilityIn Production
Average Rating
(based on 34 votes)

People and companies

HouseCharenton Macerations
PerfumerRalf Schwieger

About Christopher Street

Christopher Street is a shared / unisex perfume by Charenton Macerations. The scent was launched in 2013 and the fragrance was created by perfumer Ralf Schwieger

Reviews of Christopher Street

Charenton Macerations seems like "the indie brand to know" among the influencer-hopefuls in the larger fragrance cognoscenti, and everyone with a blog, YouTube channel, or given column space anywhere seems to rave about the brand, showing their validity as a tastemaker in forums, Facebook groups, or other online places perfume aficionados gather. Perhaps that is why I avoided seeking this one out and reviewing it for so long; I wanted to avoid being seen like I was "hanging my shingle" as some sort of authority on what's good in perfume these days, or that I know something you don't, so I stuck to my cheapies, the designer run-of-the-mills, the bigger names in "niche", or the vintage "unicorns" that crossed my desk. Not that I hate hipsters, but I most certainly am not one since I like Velveeta cheese far more than any farm-to-table whatever when it comes to making a grill cheese sandwich. However, I could only hold out for so long, as the shadow Christopher Street (2013) casts on the online community is very long, what with all the know-it-alls talking about it as indie godhead in a bottle, and at penalty of sounding like a sellout, I'm inclined to agree. My agreement comes with a caveat though: I believe this is not an essential piece of perfume needing to belong in anyone's collection who wishes to have their opinion taken seriously, and you can still be very very hip and know "what's good" without liking it. Now that we have that squared away, here's what I really think of this underground wunderkind of a perfume: it's a good floral chypre that's been inverted slightly by some clever uses of sexual contrasts to make it a truly genderfluid experience, and not just "unisex" perfume employing the "lowest common denominator" thinking, to paraphrase the house's own words. At its most basic, Christopher Street will feel like a leather perfume with a patchouli backbone, something collectors long in the tooth have smelled dozens if not hundreds of times, hence why I say it isn't some revelation "must have" as it tends to be painted by people who's critical analysis carries a lot of weight in the blogosphere.

The whole point of Christopher Street is to capture the essence of West Village in NYC, known for its counterculture and stark individualism. Challenging the gender binary imposed by society is the biggest part of what this fragrance is all about, set in that context. You get elements of a feminine-market floral chypre merged with elements more associated with masculine perfume like smoke, metal, tobacco, and leather. These elements do not blend, they contrast and dance around each other like the knife fight in West Side Story, making for a very novel fragrance. The opening is lime sec (a type of alcohol), bergamot, orange bitters , isobutyl quinoline "tannery" leather, and a cigarette-style tobacco. Most of these notes save the citruses can typically be built up as the base for a pefume, but here they are front and center. The heart of the perfume is cinnamon, clove, neroli, carnation, and an aromachemical 'dance on skin' accord that is anyone's guess but could be some sort of sharper metallic aldehyde from what my nose detects. What is interesting is the floral component because carnation used to stand in as a "poor man's rose" filler in drugstore feminines alongside some real rose and usually iris for the "rose soap" note that you can still smell today in bars of original pink Dove. Later it got used more in masculine scents going for a dandy flair (like many chypres for men from the 60's through 80's), paired with the equally ambiguous neroli that is used heavily in women's fruity florals and men's colognes alike. The patchouli and oakmoss base asserts itself pretty quickly, but this is not a rich patchouli, and rather instead a stripped and sharp patchouli the likes of which some may be familiar with in scents like Terre d'Hermès (2006), just with most of its camphoraceous elements intact. This lean and green patchouli finishes in olibanum and myrrh, with ever a slight touch of urinous musk a la a dried civetone type. The finish is sharp incense and patchouli with smoky ashen tobacco weaving through the carnation, sweet neroli, sour leather, and lime sec like you just left a bar on the namesake street, making this quite the evocative journey in a bottle (take that Byredo). Wear time is over 8 hours and a scent profile like this can be versatile temperature-wise if not the most even-tempered thing to wear.

I feel like Christopher Street will appeal most to people into 1980's leather and patchouli floral styles outside of the target avant-garde statement-making audience that falls in line with the brand credo of anti-establishment tropes filtered through an impressionist prism. If you are a fan of things like Ungaro Diva (1983), Révillon French Line (1984), Montana Parfum de Peau (1987), Knowing by Estée Lauder (1988), Azzaro Acteur (1989), and other things of that ilk, Christopher Street will feel like a modernized spiritual reincarnation. For everyone else not so versed in the 80's floral leather designer oeurve, this scent will feel loud and nonbinary, bold, and unapologetic in so doing. Douglas Bender (who founded and owns the house) worked on this with established industry perfumer Ralph Shwieger, who himself has a neat portfolio of scents under his belt, and the pair have done something that most people who've been around long enough thought they'd never see again, so I can understand the gushing from esteemed voices in the fragrance community. Despite that, I see Christopher Street as something a little more genuine in purpose but similar in design to many of the luxury perfume houses putting out scents that redress vintage styles in new fabric, with a cost-per-milliliter that is comparable to them as well. What makes Charenton Macerations Christopher Street perhaps more respectable than most luxury vintage rehash is the conceptualization surrounding the scent itself, the fact that you can buy it in smaller quantities ($100 for 30ml) and it is devoid of marketing/packaging fluff, so you really are supporting the perfumer and his vision with your money. I don't know about you, but that's something I can get behind, although I also admit that passion projects like this one tend to appeal most to those who share the passions of their creators. As for me, I ally with the cause, but having many things in this style already means I have to view the value here through a different lens than some, and I don't want to be too cool for my own good anyway. Thumbs up.
11th May, 2020
I love Davidoff and , to my nose, this is a modernistic avant-garde post-industrial update on that fragrance...sharper and somewhat metallic...piercing in a pleasant sort of way...boozy smelling...like lime booze poured on leather...just a wee bit of tobacco and spice...doesn't really get too resiny for me...kind of semi-linear to my nose, but I don't mind , because it smells really good to me...only drawback to me is the small bottle, otherwise , if it was a 50 or 100ml , I would wear this more often...as it is , I am rationing this to make the bottle last a while...
30th March, 2019
This is an interesting one for sure. I got a sample of this ages ago, tried it, found it a bit masculine, and thought I’d given it to my husband to use. But when I was going through my samples box, there it was, hiding right in the back of the box. So I gave my husband a sniff of the bottle to see what he thought – he reared back, gave me a horrified look and declared it way too sweet. All I can say is that our noses must be wired differently, because I hardly get any sweetness from this – on me, this is all spice and leather, wrapped in tobacco and incense and cloves. I get how people are saying they get an almost BO type smell from this – but it’s not a stinky, manky, rank BO. It’s a sexy, clean sort of smell. The leather and spice and musk make me think of a well-worn, well-loved leather jacket, that you’ve had for years and that you wear everywhere – it’s soft and comfortable and it has become infused with years of aftershave and perfume and smoke, with a touch of sweat. Three hours in, the musk started to come out, with a touch of sweetness, with the citrus adding a lovely tang. Five hours in it was still going strong – not overpoweringly so, rather just pleasantly spicy wafts every now and again. The tobacco was still there, only softer, and it mingles nicely with the musk. It’s now 10 hours since I put this on, and I’m still getting lovely wafts of this, so it’s right up there for longevity. I really have enjoyed how this has evolved over the day – it’s extremely well done.
26th August, 2016
rbaker Show all reviews
United Kingdom
The fresh citrus/lemon/ orange opening is modulated by a bergamot undertone; and this whole mix receives a slightly harsh edge by the early addition of a tannin-prominent leather add-on. The result is a freshness with a lovely twist and not your traditional citrus top note.

The drydown shows a deeper, softer side of this creation, mainly driven by cinnamon sweetness and a spicy undertone that at times morphs into an incense impression. A floral sideline - carnation mainly - remains feeble in my skin, and soon the base notes with their musky fairly smooth and somber patchouli take over until the end, but the patchouli develops a crispy edge that adds a fresh-ish touch in the final hour.

The sillage is moderate, the projection excellent and the longevity - unexpected given the citrus opening - is a marvelous fourteen hours on my skin.

A delightful, quite creative take on the citrus+ theme, well blended and performing exceptionally well. 3.75/5.
28th March, 2016
Where have you been all my life, Christopher Street?
This is a fantastic debut fragrance, a metallic, spicy, leather and floral chypre that feels both avant garde and from a bygone era. Fabulously unisex (or given the name, androgynous?) this is a knock-out. A perfume lover's perfume. Moderate sillage, excellent longevity, smells clean. I'm not sure where some of the other reviews on this frag get dank or pungent or sweaty -- I don't find that here at all.

The clove and cinnamon are subtle, the leather and tobacco retrained, all well blended, with an pervading alcoholic lime that manages to a hazy and not overbearing. Just. Lovely.
02nd March, 2016
I don’t know what it is about these small, indie perfumers in America these days, but they are somehow taking what is a traditionally European structure – the classic citrus cologne ‘smell’ – and beating us at our own game. Not only beating us, but sailing past us with a cheeky wave and a grin. The opening notes of Christopher Street are a sort of turbo-charged version of the citrus, herbs, and aromatics one smells in the (all too brief) top notes of European eaux de colognes such as Eau de Guerlain and Acqua di Parma. In Christopher Street, the bergamot, lime, and bitter oranges come at you like a huge wall of sound, fizzing and snapping at you like electrical wires cut loose in a storm. It’s explosively sour, like those lemon and lime sweets you bought as a kid and sucked until they corroded the lining of your mouth. Truly exciting stuff and a memorable opening.

The roiling citrus and aromatics here are like a skin on the fragrance, always present, but fitted tightly over a dark, damp undergrowth of woods, patchouli, leather, tobacco, and moss. There is something slightly mineralic, grey, or metallic in the center of the fragrance – possibly the listed incense. Mostly, though, what I sense is the pleasantly moldy patchouli and a sort of spicy, sweaty thin leather accent. The musky and leather in the base turns the dry down of Christopher Street is a long, protracted affair that feels pleasantly solid, like a good, old-fashioned fougere or leather bellwether. In fact, fans of the modern version of Bel Ami (me among them), with its transparent, spicy clove leather smell might like Christopher Street an awful lot. I don’t find it to be very animalic, though – just pleasantly skin musky in the way that some masculines smell on male skin by the end of a long, hard day. An intimate, lived-in skin smell.

But Christopher Street smells infinitely crisper and more modern than a mere pastiche of the masculine fougere genre. It is as if a small part of a traditional men’s fougere or leather fragrance has been folded up and hidden inside the structure of a citrus cologne. I like and admire it a lot, and think it really stands out as an achievement in independent perfumery. But the part of me that wants to love a modern reinterpretation of a masculine genre has already been occupied by the wonderful Lampblack, and therefore I am content to save my little sample vial of Christopher Street and take it off to sniff every now and then, just to remind myself of the surprise it pulls off.
22nd January, 2015

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