August 30 2014

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An Olfactory Archive Of Perfume’s Past


Scent memory is one of fragrance’s most compelling powers. You could be walking down the street when you catch a whiff of perfume on a complete stranger that immediately transports you to another place or time. Nina Ricci’s L’Air du Temps reminds us of our aunt who used to spritz the gardenia, rose, and jasmine eau liberally onto her scarves and hair before she came over to our house for dinner; Aqua Velva, meanwhile, will forever evoke memories of our father’s bathroom from childhood with its floor-to-ceiling blue and pink tiles. For Mexican-born architect Carlos Huber, it’s places more than people that he connects to scent. The interiors expert has just launched Arquiste, a six-piece collection of flacons at Barneys New York and The Webster in Miami, that uses what he describes as “clues” from archival research for inspiration. Anima Dulcis melds notes of Mexican vanilla, chile, and cinnamon to recall a November day in 1695 when a group of nuns at the Royal Convent of Jesus Maria in Mexico City prepared a Baroque cocoa recipe. L’Etrog, a citrus chypre with date fruit, vetiver, and Calabrese cedrat essences, is meant to simulate the aromas of a family gathering in a palm leaf hut to celebrate a good harvest in Calabria, Italy, circa October 1175. And Fleur de Louis, an orange blossom, Florentine orris, and white cedarwood scent, was created to evoke the exact day in June 1660 when Louis XIV first met his young Spanish bride, Maria Theresa, on the French and Spanish border under a newly assembled pavilion of freshly cut pine. Huber has also dedicated a fragrance to Maria Theresa, to embody the scent of her emotions on that fated day on the Isle of Pheasants. Infanta en Flor, as it’s called, boasts a fresh burst of orange flower water and immortelle extract with a tinge of Spanish leather to keep it from becoming too girly. It happens to be our favorite of the bunch, mostly because it smells like something else that we can’t exactly pinpoint but that we remember fondly.

Photo: Courtesy of Arquiste



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