Our first male profile for Beauticate leaves a trail of scents to enchant. Perfumer Carlos Huber has created Arquiste, a collection that encapsulates different moments in time, inspired by his architectural background specialising in historical preservation. He is a master at storytelling, and with a single spritz you’re taken to the Claridges Hotel in London drinking cocktails, or to a farm at sunrise, observing the crisp dew on a citron tree.
The Mexican perfumer recently visited Sydney for the launch of his two new fragrances, L’Etrog Acque and The Architects Club. We caught up with him where he was staying with friends Jason and Adam (who own Becker Minty that stocks his range) to learn about his small batch perfumery, along with two new fragrances he created exclusively for J. Crew (available only in J Crew stores overseas). We also plied his travel grooming secrets from him.
"I did a graduate degree in architecture at Columbia University…
And through that I became a perfumer. The teachers at Columbia are very keen on saying that preservation is not necessarily a conservative career. There was a lot of question about interpreting history and how to take these historic sites and tell a story about them through something else. So I think I started thinking about sense of smell and how to connect those olfactive experiences. I was interested in scent and recapturing a story or rediscovering a sight or a moment lost in time. And how can we make it significant or actually tell a story. For me, smell is important in telling the story.
I’ve been a big fragrance aficionado;
I’ve always been very keen on buying perfume. Chanel Sycomore is a favourite of mine. I think it’s a wonderful one to wear. And the D’Orsay, it’s a very old French house and they have a few perfumes. There’s one called the Le Nomade, which is very pretty and it’s a cologne. I tend to be very classic with my own taste and I loved Gucci Envy, which doesn’t exist anymore.
In New York I meet Yann Vasnier…
Who is the creator of Tom Ford’s Santal Blush and Lavender Palm. I met him at a party and it turns out we had a friend in common who was a perfumer that lived in Mexico, where I was from. One day he introduced me to Rodrigo, one of the other perfumers and we clicked instantly. It turns out that he created Tom Ford’s Neroli Portofino and Clinique’s Happy. One of the times that we went out for drinks, Rodrigo tells me, “If you’re really interested in fragrance, let’s talk about it. I’ll teach you and I’ll give you classes”, and he taught me for a year and a half. I would bring my little note pad, he would bring out little vials and sometimes we would smell raw materials and he would teach me about materials. We had dinner and martinis afterwards, as we were friends. He would say, “I’m from Mexico, you’re from Mexico, and there’s nobody doing this.” I didn’t think I was going to start a range, but you know what, when I had the idea, and when I gave him my first [composition], he told me to write a formula.
J. Crew came about because…
I participated in a campaign for them that used five regular guys and girls. They selected a perfumer, the founder of Tumblr and things like that. So J. Crew’s Creative Director, Jenna Lyons, had wanted to do fragrance for a while so they called me and I said, “you know, we need to do two exclusive fragrances for you”, and they really took that to heart and said they’re going to be their signature fragrances. And now J. Crew will have perfume. One’s more unisex, more niche, more woody – and the other one’s more feminine, more easy. But they both have a quirkiness about them, so they’re very J. Crew-y.
The J. Crew scents are called No. 31 and No. 57
And the story of them is inspired by Exhibition by 31 Women, the first all women exhibit in the US. This happened in Peggy Guggenheim’s Gallery, which was on West 57th Street. So No. 57 is inspired from that gallery because it was all in oak and pine, and then we mixed it with a little bit of whisky note, because she would serve whisky at her parties. No. 31 is actually inspired by the artist women, based on perfume from the 40’s. There’s something boozy and kind of like dark and bold in the back, but it also has a very sparkly kind of champagne to it. I tied in the J. Crew personality because it was going to be aspirational and inspirational to women, and I like the idea that it was women taking charge and doing the whole exhibit. And then it was centered on New York, on something quirky and artistic.
I use Valmont eye cream…
it’s Swiss and pretty good. I feel really tight around the eyes when I wake up. I also use the Kiehl's Facial Fuel, I use it for Australia because I have to wear 50+ every day. I really like Boots No 7, I’ve been getting it in the UK, it’s an eye roll on. My favourite deodorant is Roger & Gallet. But it’s so hard to find, even in France. For moisturiser I use Biotherm Aquasource. I also get manicures regularly in New York on the corner of the street where I live. It’s a really expensive one that one but it’s good.
I train a lot, especially when I’m travelling.
I go running - it’s my relaxation. If I need to clear my head, or if I’m thinking about everything that needs to happen that day, I’ll go for a run, usually in the morning. It’s very important, I have to keep myself active. I also alternate weights with the gym and when I’m in Sydney I go to P.E. Department, it’s so close and it actually feels great, it’s my gym in Sydney. When I’m in New York I go to Equinox. I’m very disciplined myself, but if you tell me ‘you have to be at that time for that class’ then I’ll struggle a little bit more with me. Especially when I’m in New York, if I have to stay later in the office I just have to stay later in the office. It really needs to work for me. I’ll always go every day, but it has to be a little bit on my schedule."
Interview by Sigourney Cantelo; Story by Ally McManus; Photography by Daniel Gurton.