Riches of far-away land, Arquiste Nanban

Do you like traveling? If you do, what is it that makes you most exciting about any new journey? Is it the thrill of visiting some new place for the first time in your life? Or a perspective of magnificent views, warm seas, high mountains or even the local food that makes you happy about another trip? Carlos Huber who founded Arquiste sure does like to travel (you can easily tell by seeing his Instagram feed) but that’s not the case. It’s the new perfume that was introduced by the brand a little bit earlier this year, in September. A distant travel of a Japanese galleon to the West in 17th century is a canvas on which a story for a new scent was written. Meet Nanban.

At first Nanban doesn’t ring any bell, most of us probably would think that such word doesn’t even exist. But it does, in Sino-Japanese. It means “southern barbarian” and this term refers to the foreigners coming to Japan from the South. Speaking of the perfume itself, it’s a very well-thought composition that contains essences of many of the goods that were carried by the galleons then.

On my skin a composition of this fragrance begins with warm leathery aroma. It’s not that strong at first but the intensity builds up in the next couple of minutes giving you stronger and stronger smell. With leather fragrance it’s very easy to overdo it, what makes it feel offensive, a bit aggressive. Nanban is not like that. The opening is powerful but it’s not wild & furious. Leather might feel a little bit acrid initially but this will fade away, no worries. After a few more minutes it even becomes slightly powdery on me. More things are about to happen next.

As far as my “imagined” powdery leather phase goes, cuir of Nanban turns balsamic and resinous. Myrrh is the first note that comes up, adding this slightly balmy touch to the continuing leathery thought. I also find something a little bit salty and tad animalic in it, but it’s just the way myrrh works on me. We don’t get along too well together, myrrh & I. At least it doesn’t smell like melting plastic… Later on this new Arquiste perfume spices up. It becomes piquant and tingly with black pepper accord. It’s warm and dry, introducing this slightly metallic facet to the scent.

Nanban is also enriched with coffee note. It carries this dark, slightly bitter aroma that also has something warm and roasted about it, just like whole coffee beans. This aroma nicely blends with the initial leather scent combined by now with some nice spiciness. At some point quite a portion of smokiness sneaks into the structure of this fragrance. There is copaiba balm and olibanum that boost the resinous feeling and at the same time they add a thick, dark smoky layer to Nanban.

Arquiste Nanban is a pretty substantive perfume. Right from the start until the very end it packs a serious punch of many heavy aroma materials that bring weight and substance. This perfume is rich and quite heavy. Addition to the resins that appeared earlier is a nice portion of sandalwood. This perfume is too wild for a smooth & luminous sandalwood though. Nanban has the rough, not polished piece of wood that I find sexually oriented and even a bit provocative. Saffron that appears after a longer period of time adds a nice touch of spiciness that is more fresh and vibrant. Still I’d like it more if it was more plush.

As the time flies and notes of the composition re-orchestrate, revealing some more woody-spicy nuances every now and then, Nanban inevitably aims for a drydown phase. In it you might detect some black tea – it’s the specific aroma of tannin and smoked (plum). Osmanthus which has a profile similar to green tea (with some peach flavor often) somehow got lost here in my case. In the very end I could smell some fresh and spicy juniper berries with their lightly metallic, alcoholic sensation of gin. From my perspective I can tell you that this perfume is a chameleon. When sampled during Pitti, on Megan it was sweeter while on me it was all about wood & smoke.

Arquiste Nanban apart from having an excellent power that gives you a nice punch, also has a fantastic longevity as the perfume lasts all day long and you don’t have to spray much, unless you want to. It’s a heavy, oriental and intoxicating fragrance that has a lot of sex appeal if you ask me. It’s a powerful mix of sensuality and strength that reacts with the senses. This composition is definitely designed for a night-time and winter-time. Composed by perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux, comes in 100 ml bottles of eau de parfum. Are you tempted to go on a trip with it?

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13 thoughts on “Riches of far-away land, Arquiste Nanban

  1. hajusuuri says:

    Nice review, Lucas! I got a sample from Barneys and wore it once before I gave it away, thinking that I could always acquire another one. On me, it was very peppery and birch tar smoky. I did not get the coffee note but I can’t imagine applying more as it is quite strong and lasts forever. I would be happy with a decant.

    • lucasai says:

      Thank you sweetie. Hope that you’ll be able to get another sample for further tests. Peppery and birch tar sounds a bit harsh, doesn’t it. But it seems you liked it if you say you’d be happy with a decant

  2. Cornelia Blimber says:

    Seems to be the chosen perfume for a true Nanban.

  3. jillie says:

    How lovely to read about a perfume with richness, depth and longevity! As Cornelia says, it’s a true Nanban as I think Japanese fragrances are usually quite subtle and Nanban obviously packs a punch.

    Its inspiration makes me think about a Stephen Sondheim musical called “Pacific Overtures” which shows the Europeans first reaching Japan and how the culture changed over the centuries (along with the style of music that SS uses throughout the show). Now the songs are in my mind and I can’t get rid of them, especially “Spider on the Wall”!.

    • lucasai says:

      Nanban is really powerful but honestly I wouldn’t call it a Japanese perfume. Only inspiration is a Japanese galleon carrying lots of goos (leather, spices)
      That’s a nice association you got in your head 🙂

  4. Holly says:

    Great review, Lucas! This sounds pretty intense, perhaps even macho? For some reason, I’m envisioning this on a guy, which is fine by me. 😉

    • lucasai says:

      Hello Holly, thanks. Macho? Maybe. Nanban has a more masculine character – that’s for sure. I wonder how it would smell on girls. I only know how it smells on my friend

  5. Mary K says:

    I’ve sampled this one, and as with many perfumes that others find quite powerful, it settled down and wasn’t really strong. (I have dry skin and strong scents often fade on me. It’s the florals that really bloom on me – no pun intended – and I have to be careful how much I put on when wearing them.) I liked Nanban and got spice, leather, some smoke and the coffee note.

  6. Undina says:

    I will try this perfume when I get a chance but, in general, this brand doesn’t work for me: most of their perfumes aren’t bad on my skin but I didn’t feel tempted to go beyond testing with any of them.

  7. […] fragrances that I enjoyed wearing this year include Arquiste Nanban, Carner Barcelona Palo Santo, Altaia Yu Son, Atelier Cologne Oud Saphir & Mandarine Glaciale, […]

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