As seasoned admirers of all things floral and recent inductees into the captivating world of home fragrances, we’ve developed a discerning nose for floral fragrances in particular. Naturally then, it’s quite inspiring when a fragrance comes along that has the power to reinvigorate our senses and offer a new perspective. Behold: Arquiste’s newly unveiled Boutonniere no.7, a sumptuous gardenia cologne designed by Founder and Creative Director, Carlos Huber. Not only did we have the wonderful opportunity to design the launch party for Boutonniere no.7, but we also had the great pleasure of speaking with Carlos about his inspirations for the new fragrance.
Ovando: Why gardenia?
Carlos Huber: Gardenia was the quintessential “Opera flower” used by men in black-tie during the Belle Époque. I thought it was interesting that its scent was so closely tied into the idea of masculinity. To me, it represented the proper way for a man to use a flower.
Ovando: Of all of the Arquiste fragrances, do you have a favorite fragrance?
Carlos Huber: Boutonniere no.7! We’ve worked really hard to create what we think is the best gardenia perfume possible.
Ovando: What initially inspired your interest in fragrances?
Carlos Huber: I’ve always been very connected to my nose; every time I would do research on a building or city I would come across an anecdote or a part of the story that led me to think, “What did it smell like?” I’ve also always been a real perfume and grooming aficionado, so I came into this as a very passionate customer. I realized that my passion for scent and the culture around it was just as strong as my love of architectural history. Perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux gave me classes on perfume for a year and a half, and he really has become a sort of mentor for me. At a certain point, I decided I had to find a way for perfumery to remain a constant in my life–to make it my own. I knew it had to be related to history, art, and architecture, and to me they are much intertwined. My fascination with historic architecture has always been connected to its experience, and if you are sensitive to scent, then what you smell and feel is just as important as what you see.
Ovando: Tell us more about Arquiste. What distinguishes the brand?
Carlos Huber: Arquiste was born out of the idea to create the highest quality scents with a serious emphasis on story-telling and experience. I wanted to do this through serious research, not a marketing brief. Fragrances are real works of olfactory art that allow us to see the value of a seemingly distant, or “disconnected,” past with our present–with our own emotions.
Ovando: You’re also from Mexico City! Tell us about how your upbringing there influenced your sense of design.
Carlos Huber: Mexico City is one of the most fascinating cities on earth, and I’m not saying it just because I’m from there. I think it’s a very creative place. It is a city built on layers that mix and fight for preeminence: Aztec, Viceregal, Beaux Arts, Modernist and Contemporary. It is also a truly Imperial city (Mexico was an empire three times, during the Aztecs, and in the 19th century) which conquered, destroyed and continuously re-built. And, today as it was then, it is chaotic, rich, diverse and alive. When I am there, I swear it’s as if there’s a tingling feeling. The design references are so vast that your sense of design can pick up the craziest things.
Ovando: As you know, Ovando has a candle collection that is similarly inspired by the fragrances of nature and the power of fragrances to conjure memories. What memory or feeling does your gardenia boutonniere inspire in you?
Carlos Huber: The gardenia boutonniere conjures both distant and close memories. The last time I wore it was during a gala night with my friends and colleagues Rodrigo Flores-Roux, Sophie Bensamou, and Yann Vasnier. It was a very happy night and I it was around the time of the launch of Arquiste. When I smell gardenias, it takes me back to the beginning of this great adventure.
Gardenias also evoke Mexico City to me, namely because on my way home from university I would buy little bunches of them that I would give to my mom and my sister. It also reminds me of the flower vendors in the streets of my old neighborhood. All positive things as you can see!
Ovando: Give us the scoop…What’s next for Arquiste?
Carlos Huber: We are releasing a special edition of L’Etrog, Flor y Canto, and Anima Dulcis–three of our best-sellers– and the fragrances will come with a custom refillable atomizer that you can take wherever…it’s a very cool gift and we are offering it this holiday season.
We also have lots of traveling coming up, with Arquiste launching in Germany, Austria, Italy and Spain! I couldn’t be happier!
Ovando: Anything else you’d like to share?
Carlos Huber: Flowers inspire and excite, and they soften your heart… They represent life and nature, but also fragility and artifice. To share a passion for flowers with an artist like Ovando, and to work together in this passion is an honor.
We feel the same, Carlos. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and beautiful inspirations with us.
Photos courtesy of Arquiste