Dollars and Scents
Carlos Huber, a Mexico City-born architect, has crafted a new line of scents – seeking inspiration from moments in history, resulting in what can only be described as a fragrant time capsule. Each fragrance draws upon history (and authentic sources), which results in a series of six unique scents, aptly called Arquiste. Here, Huber discusses the foundations and inspirations behind each unisex fragrance.
L’ETROG: The first time I ever came across an Etrog, a rare type of citrus, was at my Jewish primary school. Anybody that has smelled it can remember it. When the holiday of Sukkot came, we were taught the meaning of the Four Species. They consist of a bouquet of date palm, myrtle, willow and an Etrog citron, bound to bless the people celebrating a good harvest. The perfume of L’Etrog is composed by the same elements; it’s as if you were inside the leafy, branchy cabin built by the farmers during the harvest season in Southern Italy; the green, dry scent enveloping the juicy, citron.
FLOR Y CANTO: This is the most emotional perfume in the line to me. The first time I got a whiff, it literally brought tears to my eyes. The fresh tuberose immediately took me to my family’s home in Mexico City. I had just flown back to New York and I remember the warm-but-cool scent all around the house. The same scent was thought by the Aztecs to connect humans with the spirits from beyond. It was fascinating to realize that what my ‘home’ smelled like had been significant to an ancient civilization ages ago.
FLEUR DE LOUIS: The idea of recreating the olfactive experience of a long-lost moment first came to while reading about Louis XIV. I visited the Isle of Pheasants, site of the meeting the French and Spanish courts him, to marry the French King and princess Infanta Maria Teresa of Spain. Nothing remains of the original wood pavilion meticulously described in the literature of the time. But I was fascinated by the idea of the French and Spanish courts coming together to observe and scrutinize each other. When researching the story in Paris, I found so much information on the description of the moment and place, that I kept thinking, “What did it smell like? What did it feel like?” With every piece of the puzzle in place, I felt the experience, if not the original architecture, could be restored.
INFANTA EN FLOR: Infanta en flor represents the Spanish side, just as Fleur de Louis is decidedly French. During the meeting of the two courts, the groom was not meant to see the bride openly. Louis came incognito, nevertheless. When he stepped in, King Philip IV of Spain pretended not to see him, but the Infanta immediately went pale and lowered her eyes. When the French Queen Mother noticed her shyness, she gestured to the door and asked the Infanta “What do you think?” The Infanta blushed and responded, “The door seems quite beautiful and strong.” This discreet flirtation has inspired Infanta en Flor.
ANIMA DULCIS: My thesis project at graduate school was a restoration project for an abandoned 17th convent in Mexico City. With all the research, I found many interesting stories that floated in my head and brought back to life the old dilapidated walls of the structure. Looking at an old floor plan, I saw that the kitchen opened to the main cloister, I imagined the scent of Mexican Vanilla, Cinnamon from Asia, toasted sesame and the grinding of cocoa beans wafting around the space, floating out to the courtyard, where the night-blooming jasmine in ceramic pots would mix in, and accompany the nuns on their procession to church. My goal with Anima Dulcis was to recreate this Baroque world.
ALEKSANDR: In Aleksandr, I tried to recreate the moment leading up to Russian writer Aleksandr Pushkin’s final duel. Pushkin’s activities that day were described in detail to the police by his close friend. The scent warms up from a refreshing violet leaf to a woody, leathery amber: it has notes on the “gentleman” colognes popular at the time, the polished leather boots and fur coat worn by Pushkin, and the heady forest of birch and fir where the duel took place. It travels, like a bullet in the air, from a cold exterior to a warm heart.