Tag Archives: Carlos Huber

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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Société secrète, Arquiste The Architects Club

The niche perfume line of Arquiste offers an interesting combination of sensorial pleasures. It sources its inspirations from the history (a pleasure for your mind), from architecture (a pleasure for your eyes) and from different corners of the world. And the latter one offers to your nose a real olfactory experience of a distant place. Founded in 2012 by an architect specializing in Historic Preservation – Carlos Huber, the brand continues to tell the American story of the Europe-derived perfume art, by slowly introducing new compositions to their scented palette.

During the Esxence perfume fair in Milan this March, Carlos presented one more perfume next to the L’Etrog Acqua that I told you about some time ago. This other perfume seems to be especially influenced by Carlos himself. The Architects Club, for that is the name of the fragrance, is different from Arquiste‘s earlier compositions. Not only in a matter of different scent but also in a matter of story that hides behind this perfume. But about that – just a little bit later.

The Architects Club commences with this kind of boozy and alcoholic vibe. When you give it a few minutes to ‘adhere’ to your skin, you will most likely start to notice the dry facet. Couple of minutes more and the gin accord becomes really prominent. It quickly looses its initial booziness but the aroma lingers for a long amount of time. After a while the aroma of bitter orange appears on top on the composition, adding a very nice and a bit juicy flavor to perfectly balance the dryness from the gin. There is also a candied sweetness of the orange rind that I detect.

After 20-30 minutes the composition of The Architects Club starts to change. From the refreshing taste of orange-flavored gin the scent goes into an aromatic territory. A whole bunch of juniper berries quickly takes over the entire blend and adds a big  volume to the scent. As we’re dealing with juniper berries now the metallic vibe is what I was expecting. And the perfume delivered.  Shortly after this note emerged from the new Arquiste fragrance this genuinely metallic vibe appeared. It also gave this really cold feeling to it! It’s like someone poured and ice-cold quinine tonic to your glass. This impression is present for around 30 minutes.

When the juniper chill dissipates I begin to notice a little bit of lemon, especially the peel, emanating its wonderful and mouth-watering aroma somewhere distant, in the background. It’s like you could smell it but you couldn’t see it with your eyes. It’s hidden. Now that we’ve had a really cold drink offered to us by The Architects Club, we’re ready to move forward and accept some warmth. That’s right, at the end of 1st hour the perfume transitions from cold to warm. It’s a very enjoyable feeling.

Among the warm notes the first one that I noticed was the guaiac wood (reminding you once again that this is not the same as oud!) It immediately adds a material substance, almost allowing you to touch the scent. What I smell now has much more density than at the beginning and it’s much more sensuous and enveloping. Guaiac wood brings in some sort of warm smokiness which is hard to describe. It smells awesome – that’s what I have to say about it. The addition of angelica introduces the nice element of mild spiciness that is totally under control.

Angelica and guaiac are in perfect harmony with each other. None of them has a dominant role, instead one highlights the best things the other one has to offer and vice versa. The longer I get to smell The Architects Club in this stage the stronger I have a feeling like I could get ‘absorbed’ by this perfume, that I could sink into it and forget about the entire world. As the time flies the perfume gains an additional portion of warmth thanks to the amber accord. It has some density but is generally light and luminous, adding a delicate resinous quality.

Dusk, March, 1930, Mayfair, London
A group of architects gather for cocktails at Mayfair’s smartest Art Deco smoking room. As they settle in the warm interior of dark woods, leather and velvet, London’s bright young things burst in, frosted martinis in hand, surrounded by a cloud of laughter, white smoke and fine vanilla.

The press release vision of The Architects Club ideally reflects the character of this perfume. Old wooden tables, dimmed lights, huge velvet chairs you can drown in. And a drink. Some swirls of smoke lazily drift in the air until they fade away leaving just a bit of smoky smell behind.

 Probably the most important role in Arquiste‘s new fragrance is the vanilla accord. It starts light and fluffy but when you give it some time it becomes more dense and dark, dominating the composition of The Architects Club step by step. Combined with the earlier notes it has a resinous edge and to me there is something ethyl maltol styled in this perfume as I smell some caramelized vibe with some smoke coming from this vanilla note. List of the ingredients also mentions pepperwood (whoever knows how that smells…) and oak. Possibly I didn’t smell it as there is a chance it overlapped with guaiac wood.

The Architects Club is a great perfume. Cold and a bit ‘keep away from me’ at the beginning, warm, cozy and enveloping at the later stages. The woody-smoky-vanillic combination suggests to wear it in Autumn in Winter when temperatures are lower. That’s when it should smell especially good. The perfume was created by perfumer Yann Vasnier with assistance of Carlos Huber. This new eau de parfum will come in 100 ml bottles (new size) of the same design as bottles of earlier creations. The scent is now available at Arquiste website, international distribution is scheduled for September.

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