The perfumer Carlos Huber likes to tell stories. He likes to transport those who smell his Arquiste fragrances to worlds that are unfamiliar, romantic, historical and idyllic or all of the above all at the same time. Narratives are mixed in with the scent. Take for example Él and Ella with fragrance notes that aim to transport you to a nightclub in 1978 Acapulco where a man and a woman move from the dance floor to a midnight swim on the beach to… let’s leave the rest to the imagination.
His latest scent, Sydney Rock Pool, which comes in a deep blue bottle, calls to mind the beaches and the Instagram-ready Bondi Icebergs swimming pool of this Australian city. “The inspiration and back story for our new scent is all about Sydney Harbour… the sea, sand and sun of the beaches and coves in the east, and the abundance of jasmine, rose and white flowers all over.”
“Scent I associate with happy memories…Australian sunscreen brand Le Tan’s coconut scent. It means it’s a beach day!”
To celebrate the new fragrance, he is hosting a lunch at the Charles Pierre Suite of the Pierre Hotel designed by Piero Lissoni, a contemporary hotel apartment that is all neutrals and modern furniture almost as if it’s overlooking Sydney Harbour. In the light-flooded dining room, which you enter through a bookshelf-lined wall, Huber is setting the table.
“Yes, the scent is very beachy and has a lot of marine notes, but it’s also textured, warm, inviting… I wanted that feeling for the table,” says Carlos as he lays out Kim Seybert’s Ombre Runner in Ivory & Navy, reminiscent of the beach and the sea. He pairs this with round Jackson Placemats in White & Black, with beads that look like found shells. Simple earthenware plates are topped with the Horizon Napkins in White & Blue held together with the Quill Napkin Ring in Ivory & Navy. Kim Seybert’s Helix Flatware in Gold & Silver completes the setting. As finishing touches, Carlos adds petite bouquets of jasmine and roses, and palm fronds. “The table is beachy & textured—simple yet elegant.”
What will he be serving for lunch? “Definitely some fish. I love how Australians interpret both Mediterranean and Asian influences, and I really admire how healthy and clean the cuisine there feels. A barramundi or sea bass for main, and a watermelon, basil and tomato salad to start. My closest friends in Sydney are actually of Lebanese origin, so we always have a lot of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food.”
Carlos also adds: “Even if it’s Australian themed, I would still play some Brazilian, Mexican and Latin music from Maria Rita, Caetano Veloso, Natalia LaFourcade or Omara Portuondo. Leave the musical musings to the Latins…”
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behind the scents
While flower shopping in New York’s Floral Market—Carlos Huber, on the makeup of some of Arquiste’s top scents, memories and when you’ve sprayed on too much perfume.
“Too much is when…they can smell you from across the room. Your scent should be apparent only when you’re close to someone, not screaming for attention.”
The Architects Club
Cocktail time, March 1930, 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.
Infanta en Flor
June 1660, Isle of Pheasants, Basque region, on the Spanish-French border.
Maria Teresa, the Infanta of Spain, is offered to Louis XIV in exchange for peace between the two nations. Innocently perfumed with Orange flower water, her powdery complexion blushes as the gallant King lays his eyes on her for the first time. She opens her scented fan and steals a look back
December 1978, Armando’s Le Club, Acapulco, Mexico.
It’s a sultry night of disco, plunging necklines and champagne-soaked skin. Lights flash and strangers kiss, but it’s her, dancing, that commands the attention. She moves, panther-like, her honeyed skin creating an addictive sweetness and magnetism that only a deep chypre fragrance can deliver. She’s met her match on the dance floor, and it’s her animalic instinct that follows him outside, onto the golden beach, under a silvery moon.
Fleur de Louis
June 1660, Isle of Pheasants, Basque region, on the French-Spanish border.
To ensure peace between them, two Royal Courts converge at a richly-appointed pavilion built of freshly cut Pine and Cedar wood. From the French side, in a golden aura of Iris, Rose and Jasmine, emerges a young Louis XIV, all starched and composed, eager to catch a glimpse of his new bride, the Infanta Maria Teresa.
“Fragrance is…art, pleasure and storytelling combined.”
— Carlos Huber