Arquiste is a fragrance house constructed around a single strong ideal. Curated by Carlos Huber, an architect specialising in historic preservation, the brand focuses upon moments in time; each perfume designed to capture an olfactory vignette, a scented snapshot from history.
My first introduction to Arquiste came in the form of The Architects Club, the newest release created in collaboration with perfumer Yann Vasnier and one that I have become most infatuated with. I’m excited to explore the whole line in more detail as this sort of perfumed storytelling greatly appeals to me. The Arquiste website describes The Architects Club in vivid strokes:
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.
The note list includes Juniper berry oil, Angelica root, Lemon peel oil, Bitter Orange, Pepperwood, Guaiac wood, Oakwood, Vanilla Absolute and Amber.
Sometimes I find that living with a fragrance for a while can change my understanding of it. I’ve been tempted to sit down and write about The Architects Club ever since I received the sample but for some reason I’ve been holding the words back. I now realise that whatever I might have chosen to write two months ago would be markedly different to the description I’m now contemplating. The weather has turned wintry and the perfume has different qualities in the chill gloom of late autumn, ones that I feel suit it better.
The scent begins it’s life in a tall glass of juniper, tumbled with ice and lemon wedges. The top notes do not sparkle as many cocktail citruses can; it’s not a fizzy, alcoholic sensation but one of clarity and brightness; of polished bar tops and buffed-up brass. It’s a smooth, hushed opening of leather shoes whispering over velvet carpets and the genteel tinkling of iced tumblers.
This smooth, bright beginning brings warmth into the room with it from amber and vanilla, which both sit down comfortably at the bar alongside that chilly juniper. Citrus and sweetness are a winning combination in my book, yet here it should be stressed that there is not a hint of lemon meringue. Incredibly elegant soufflé maybe, light as air and only for grownups. The Architects Club does sweeten swiftly onto the skin but amber does an excellent job of evoking fireside warmth and flushed cheeks, as apposed to a more gourmand effect.
It’s the woody qualities of the perfume that I have found to be most disparate now the winter has arrived. During the late summer months, The Architects Club became a vanilla haze with gentle touches of brand new leather. I believe I likened it to a heavenly cloud, one to float through the day on in fluffy comfort. The chilled temperature of my skin has now slowed the development of the fragrance right down, only reaching the fluffy cloud in the dying stages. There is a whole new phase of the perfume appearing, one which is all about smoke and dark wood. I love the amber and vanilla together, gold and orange with a green citrus trail. Those woods are deep and polished and impregnated with the smoke of a thousand cigars. One can almost imagine beaded gowns, twinkling in the firelight, brushing against velvet seat covers and gentleman’s leather gloves.
The Architects Club is mightily restrained for a fragrance featuring the exuberant and raucous glamour of 1930’s youth. However we must remember that Carlos Huber is first and for most an architect himself. The perfume isn’t about people, it’s about place. Art Deco design is bold, clean and still, yet opulent and inviting. The Architects Club is an accurate rendering of this in olfactory form, if that’s how you choose to think about it as you wear it. In the warmer weather this conceptual imagery was somewhat lost on me, I felt more as if I was enveloped in a whipped mist of fuzzy yellow. Now I’m enjoying the depths of the scent so much more; the amber and woods glow and the juniper and bitter citrus seem in sharper, cooler contrast.
The Architects Club is a delightful fragrance whatever the weather, but for me it is a perfume for colder days and a slightly introspective mood. It’s a subtle piece of work that needs a little time to express it’s full intent. Thank goodness I have a large sample, I wouldn’t want to be without this at the moment.