Monday, September 19, 2011

Arquiste: Perfumes with History

In a world that has been captivated by the scents of classic perfumes such as: Eau Sauvage, Paco Rabanne, Obsession, Givenchy Gentlemen, and YSL Pour Homme; and with a wide variety of perfumes available, nowadays it is really hard to find new fragrances that captivate all of our senses, leave a long lasting impression, and of course become our own trademark.

Arquiste, a new perfume collection inspired on the scents and circumstances of certain moments in World History, will be launched this week in New York City.

Developed by Carlos Huber, a Mexican architect specializing in Historic Preservation, whose passion for architecture, history, and perfumery led him to study fragrance development with internationally recognized noses.

The final result was the creation of 6 perfumes which restore the olfactive experience of a certain place and time in history:

L’Etrog: Calabria, Italy on October 1175. A family celebrates their harvest inside their cabin. The scents of Etrog citron, Date fruit, and Myrtle fill the festive atmosphere.

Flor y Canto: Tenochtitlan, Mexico on August 1400. Flowers are offered at the Aztec temple’s altar to the beat of loud drums. Dancers and onlookers are captivated by the smell of Mexican Tuberose, Magnolia, and Marigold.

Fleur de Louis: Isle of Pheasants, Basque Region on June 1660. An encounter that would mark the end of war and the start of the marriage between Louis XIV and Infanta Maria Teresa. The meeting took place in a pavilion where Pine and Cedar wood converged with Iris, Rose, and Jasmine to create a one of a kind scent.

Infanta en flor: Isle of Pheasants, Basque Region on June 1660. Infanta Maria Teresa was perfumed with Orange Flower water for her first encounter with Louis XIV. A meeting that would change the course of history.

Anima Dulcis: Mexico City on November 1695. At the Convent of Jesus Maria a group of nuns prepares an exquisite recipe with Cocoa, Chili, Cinnamon, and Vanilla.

Aleksandr: St. Petersburg, Russia on January 1837. Alexandr Pushkin finishes his toilette of Neroli and Violet before a fateful duel in which the smell of Fir filled the air.

Below my interview with Carlos Huber which will allow you to know more about this unique collection of perfumes.

What does Arquiste mean/stand for?
Arquiste comes from Architecture, History, and Art; all references to the work that has gone into each of the perfumes.

Being your interest and passion for architecture and history evident, you could have developed an architectural history book or any other kind of project. What motivated you to create Arquiste?

Arquiste is that “other kind of project” for me. During site visits to architectural or archeological sites, or while reading about a specific historic subject, the questions “But what did actually FEEL like? What did it SMELL like?” would pop in my head. I wanted to “restore” the experience.

One of my mentors at Columbia Unviersity had explored the role of non-visual cues in interpreting historic sites, and even of introducing scent as mnemonic or interpretive aid… All of that got me thinking that a preservation architect’s role doesn’t need to stop with architectural history or with “repointing” facades.

I do love architectural history books: essays on architectural styles from the 18th Century, modernist theory, etc. Maybe one day a doctorate will follow…

Why did you choose these historical periods for the first line of Arquiste?

They were stories that I had come across during my preservation/architectural practice or during travels. For example, when I lived in Bilbao, I visited the Isle of Pheasants, on the border between Spain and France, where the story of Fleur de Louis and Infanta en flor takes place.

Anima Dulcis is the result of all the research for my master thesis project at Columbia University, which was a proposal for the restoration of the Ex-Convent of Jesus Maria, in Mexico City.

Now that you mention Infanta en flor and Anima Ducis…Are these the only perfumes from your collection oriented towards women?

Well, all of the perfumes are unisex…Flor y Canto and Infanta en flor could be considered as the most floral ones, and traditionally, the most feminine. Aleksandr, L’Etrog, Anima Dulces, and Fleur de Louis are truly unisex.

What really matters is that each person chooses the perfume that best grabs their attention by its “scent” or “history”, without a gender stereotype. The perfume will adapt to their natural chemistry, “smelling” in the end like themselves but with a touch of the “situation” chosen by them.

Which is your favorite historical period? Why?

I find that I am always drawn to periods of transition between centuries…for example, the period between Louis XIV’s later years and the Regency in the early 18th century in France; or the first decades of the 1800s throughout Europe and America…They are the times where the ideas of the previous regime collide with the new; creating the most crazy-creative-contrasting and uncertain times…This would be both stylistically and philosophically….and much like today.

Do you plan on developing more historical inspired fragrances in the near future? Any 20th Century inspired fragrances?

Yes, I am working on a new one based on a specific garden created in the later part of Louis XIV’s reign. And yes, the 20th century is also coming…I have one based on the hippie invasion of Ibiza in the 70s.

Arquiste will be launched this week on Barneys New York and in the upcoming weeks at The Webster in Miami and Saks Fifth Avenue in Mexico City.

Photos: Arquiste

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