It’s not every day that you have the opportunity to transport yourself into another place and time. But for Carlos Huber, the founder of Arquiste Fragrances, it’s all in a day’s work. The Mexico City-born entrepreneur has masterfully created a fragrance collection that transports the wearer to evocative moments in history. With a firm belief that a scent is a time capsule, Huber—an architect specializing in Historic Preservation—innovatively deduces what these moments might have smelled like. We had the opportunity to chat with the perfumer while he was in Toronto to launch the collection at Holt Renfrew.
Available exclusively in Canada at Holt Renfrew Bloor, $185-$195.
Arquiste is such a unique name—what does it mean?
I wanted to reference what is involved with the development of each fragrance. It’s the combination of history, architecture, and of course the art of perfumery. Arquiste seemed like a good mix between all those things. It’s completely a made-up word— I thought making the name up would make it unique and protected.
You are a trained architect, what would you say inspired you to jump into making fragrances?
I have always been interested in perfume, and because I have a background in history and architecture, I always liked when there was a perfume that referenced something from history. Perfume is really a product of its time—it evolves and represents the artistic feelings of a certain time.
All of your fragrances are inspired by a particular time and place, how do you translate this into scents? Can you tell us a bit about this process?
A scent is a time capsule; it evokes our most intimate memories and dreams and opens doors to distant worlds. When I was creating Fleur de Louis and Infanta en Flor, I was inspired by the Spanish and French courts of 1660, during the handover ceremony of a Spanish princess as she became the French queen. There were all these anecdotes and descriptions of the space—the way it was decorated, smelled, etc. and I used all of this to recreate this period in time.
So you use historical facts to help create each scent?
Yes—and in that way, it’s kind of like architecture, where your role is to interpret the past and launch it into the future. I see building fragrances as similar to restoring a building. You have the bones and the structure of the building, which is similar to the structure of the perfume. The most important aspect of Fleur Du Louis is the wealth of flowers used at the time (Iris, Rose, and Jasmine), so florals had to be part of the structure. The secondary notes are derived from what’s in the background—the woody notes, the orange blossom, the scents that you would find on an island in the middle of a river (where the handover ceremony took place).
Do you know what you’re going to do next? Are you working on anything right now?
Yes, there is a lot going on right now. I’m working on the seventh perfume that is going to launch at Holt Renfrew in October. It’s interesting and more contemporary. It’s from 1899, during the Belle Époque transition into the 20th century.
What was your first scent memory?
One of the first scents I remember was the house that we lived in when I was growing up. I remember what the carpet smelt like…
L’Etrog— Citrus Chyper
Anima Dulcis— Baroque Gourmand
Aleksandr— Ambery Leather
Flor y Canto— Opulent Floral
Fleur de Louis— Woody Floral
Infanta en flor— Floral Musky Amber