A new collection of six perfumes baptized Arquiste (a contraction of Architecture and Artistry) will make its debut from September 2011 at Barney's in New York City. It is the brainchild of architect Carlos Huber who has translated his fascination for history and archeology into perfume compositions with the help of perfumers from Givaudan.
While historical perfumes are nothing new, often inspired by biographical portraits, what is noteworthy in this case is that each Arquiste fragrance is about recreating a precise moment in history, from the first encounter of the Sun King Louis XIV with his bride Maria Teresa to the afternoon of the day in which the great Russian poet Pushkine engaged in a fatal duel...
It's a little bit like travel time in imagination and landing in a place where you could note down the most pertinent olfactory clues surrounding the event you are eager to relive. As Huber says,
“You have to take into account people, place, vegetation and the building to describe the soul of the story,”
The six perfumes are presented as unisex ones. Two of the six are about the same encounter but seen from the differing perspectives of the historical figures, either Louis XIV or the Infanta Maria Teresa. Two others are about Mexico from which Huber hails.
• Fleur de Louis (June, 1660) — $175 for 50 ml. A woody floral with notes of orange blossom, Florentine orris and white cedarwood to represent Louis XIV’s first meeting with his young Spanish bride under a newly assembled pavilion of pine and cedarwood on the French-Spanish border. “This takes into account the woods and the iris powder and pomade [used by the French court],” said Huber.
• Infanta En Flor (June, 1660) — $175 for 50 ml. A floral musky amber scent designed to symbolize Maria Teresa, the Infanta of Spain, who was offered to Louis XIV in exchange for peace. The blend of orange flower water, Spanish leather, citrus resin and immortelle, is “a little more austere and discreet” than the version inspired by her French husband, said Huber.
• Anima Dulcis (November, 1965) — $165 for 50 ml. This “baroque gourmand” fragrance interprets the interior of the Royal Convent of Jesus Maria, in Mexico City, where nuns once prepared spiced chocolate with a mysterious blend of chilies and spices. “I used ingredients inspired by a Mexican cookbook from the 17th Century,” said Huber. “There was a lot of secrecy in the Royal nunneries.”
• Flor Y Canto (August, 1400) — $165 for 50 ml. Described as an “opulent white floral,” this aromatic juice has notes of Mexican Tuberose, magnolia, plumeria and marigold, and celebrates the feeling and smells of an Aztec festival. “To the Aztecs, flowers and plants were the most important offerings for the Gods behind human life,” said Huber, who set out to capture the sound of drums, wafting of incense and the freshness of outdoor air in the flower-based scent.
• L’Etrog (October, 1175) — $165 for 50 ml. Set in Calabria, Italy and inspired by the festival of Sukkot, this citrus chypre fragrance stars the Calabrian cedrat, also known as the citron, which serves as a meaningful part of Jewish holy ritual. “Here we capture the smell of the cabin [which is erected for the harvest-based holiday], palm leaves, willow branches, myrtle and date fruit,” said Huber, who added that etrog is the Hebrew word for citrus.
• Aleksandr (January, 1837) — $165 for 50 ml. Inspired by a frigid winter afternoon in St. Petersburg, Russia, this blend of neroli, fir balsam, Russian leather and amberette, tells the story of a burly fur and leather-wearing gentleman, riding off on a sledge to fight a duel. “I took the scene from a recorded true story,” said Huber. “This scent contains notes from woods common to Russian forests and actually gives off the feeling of [being] cold.”