Interviews Arquiste Goes Sexy: Interview with Carlos Huber

Arquiste Goes Sexy: Interview with Carlos Huber

09/26/16 10:06:26 (8 comments)

by: Miguel Matos

ARQUISTE has just launched a new pair of fragrances, and this time the novelties are sexier than ever. Carlos Huber teamed up again with perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux in order to tell a story of a hot encounter back in the 1970's in Acapulco, Mexico. The scenario is the mythical and glamorous Armando's Le Club. The year is 1978 in December. El and Ella are scents that come with open shirts and disco sound.


“Nighttime at Acapulco’s sultriest disco. Revelry on the dance floor. In the heat of the moment, he smiles coyly and motions to the beach outside, hinting at a midnight swim. He unbuttons his shirt, flashing bronzed skin and the scent of his cologne, a virile muskiness loaded with patchouli, oakmoss and elegant woody notes. A masculine impression of a day under the sun, intensified by the thrill of the night. ÉL and Ella were inspired by the stories my parents told me when they used to spend holidays and weekends in Acapulco, Mexico. This was the ultimate destination for beautiful sights and endless partying. The 70s were an era of glamour and sensuality and in Acapulco these characteristics were highlighted by the heat, the magnificence of the bay and magical sunsets.” - Carlos Huber



“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.” - Carlos Huber

After such vivid descriptions I had to meet with Carlos during the Pitti Fragranze expo and ask him a few questions:

Miguel: Carlos, can you tell me more about Acapulco, Armando's Le Club and in what way it relates to your life experience?

Carlos: I am from Mexico and I grew up going to Acapulco a lot and there's this magical thing about it. It's a beautiful bay, very tropical and at the same time it has this decadent glamour. It was very fabulous back in the day but now the jet set just stopped going. Nowadays it's a really bad place because of all these drug cartels that settled there. It has become a very dangerous destination and people stopped going there, causing the local economy to go down. It's really sad and I've always wanted to do something about it because it's a very evocative place and a very fun idea.

Miguel: Did you use to spend vacations there?

Carlos: Yes and weekends too. When I was young going out, I would go there on weekends and spend a week on Easter.

Miguel: So there is a nostalgic feeling to it for you...

Carlos: Yes. We would go out and those were the first discos that we went to. The beach and all that fun, you know. So I was a little sad about how it was going. I wanted to do something about it and I have been wanting to do something more recent, more contemporary within Arquiste.

Miguel: Is Armando's still open?

Carlos: No, not any more. Armando's was situated on the beach, in the bay. Imagine this pool and a garden and the disco inside. This place was where Elizabeth Taylor would go, Grace Kelly, Grace Jones, Mick Jagger... It was like Studio 54. The same people would be there. So if you would go and be successful flirting with someone, then you would go out to the beach and go skinny dip. That's a really cool idea.The idea of applying a fragrance in the morning, then you would go to the beach and after that you would go to someone's house with a pool and have cocktails. After that you put a fresh shirt and you reapply your fragrance to go out dancing at this club. The idea of a fragrance that has been ageing on skin and has macerated. It has been warmed up by the sun, by the euphoria of the night, smoking, drinking...

Miguel: It was also a very liberating time, sexually speaking...

Carlos: Yes, when we were working on the development I told Rodrigo Flores-Roux that I wanted to have this vintage 70's feeling with a little bit of dirtyness in it.

Marie Helvin photographed by David Bailey in 1976

Miguel: Your new scents are vintage in terms of concept and references... But in terms of the fragrances, are they very vintage?

Carlos: In terms of scent it is always like an open question, open to discovery. That's the exciting part for me. I had an idea of the ingredients but I didn't have a full idea until the first time we smelled them and then we started working on it. But I wanted to do something different, especially after Namban which is this intellectual journey into East and West, the galleon and all that. And, to be honest, I also wanted to do something more blatantly sexy. Something sensual, more about skin, more about sex.

Halston in Acapulco

Miguel: After smelling Ella, I think it actually goes a bit in the direction of the 70's chypres, like the classic Halston.

Carlos: Yes, very much Halston. We started with Turkish rose, jasmine, cannon ball tree flower, carrot seed which for me is very strong here, and iris. Then we go into cardamom absolute and honey. The honey serves as a bridge for the patchouli base with vetiver, civet and castoreum. There is also a chypre accord in the back, as well as a cigarrete smoke accord.

Miguel: Now let's smell the masculine counterpart, El.

Carlos: El is more openly musky and dirty. It's an animalic fougere and it starts with rosemary, clary sage, laurel leaves, lavender, geranium, cinnamon leaves, which are not so spicy and very terpenic. It has cardamom as well, and then again honey, civet, castoreum, less patchouli than in Ella but more musk. Instead of the chypre accord we have a fougere accord in the back.

Miguel: Within your entire line, these are very different perfumes. You took a very different direction with El and Ella, compared to the other fragrances until now. It's less intellectual and more sexual.

Carlos: Yes, for sure. I didn't do it intentionally, but I understand it now, in retrospect, that a lot of my fragrances are about encounters. And this is also an encounter, but of a different kind. I also think that for sure the fact that we were doing a chypre and a fougere is very different from making a citrus, or a woody-floral or an oriental. Things that are still classics but more contemporary. In this new pair, it's like rediscovering things. As being from a generation that didn't grow up with it [Carlos was born in 1980], I want to smell more like this. It's kind of new and interesting. I like that very open sexuality, that for a long time we've only seen in more oriental fragrances. And this is much more direct and, in a way, more naive.

Miguel: Cheeky maybe.

Carlos: Yes, and cheeky. But I like the sense of humour in this story. I think that it's also something that I've opened up myself to recently. But I still think there's a dressed up thing about it. I have to be honest, it's hard for me to get away from that. I naturally go to things that are a little more put together. Not that I always want to be put together.

Miguel: Is this a way of leaving your comfort zone, somehow?

Carlos: No, it was fun. I kept pushing Rodrigo for more and more.

Miguel: I also think that this is not typical for Rodrigo's usual style.

Carlos: Well, he loves leather and he does a lot of leather fragrances. But I think that with Arquiste and other niche and mainstream projects, he tends to be way more elegant, french and refined than his personality is in fact. So I found myself pushing him a lot, asking for more civet, more castoreum, more animalics... I wanted to push him so he would go as far as he could and see where that takes us.


Top notes: Greek laurel leaves, clary sage enriched, Moroccan rosemary, Egyptian geranium

Heart notes: Cardamom, cinnamon leaves, orange flower water, black buckwheat honey

Base notes: Patchouli, oakmoss, vetiver, castoreum, civet, fougère accord.


Top notes: Cannon ball tree flower (curupita), angelica root, carrot seed enriched essence, Turkish rose.

Heart notes: Jasmin absolute "vintage crop", cardamom absolute, black buckwheat honey, ambergris.

Base notes: Patchouli, civet, vetiver, cigarette smoke accord, chypre accord.

El and Ella come in 100ml bottles of frangance in Eau de Parfum concentration for the price of $190 USD.

Miguel Matos is a Portuguese journalist obsessed with perfume. Miguel likes to see himself as a fragrance curator, investigating perfume as contemporary art. He directs his own cultural magazine, Umbigo, and writes texts for museums and galleries. He is a vintage perfume collector and organizes regular talks called Vintage Perfume Sniffing. Honorable member of the International Perfume Bottle Association. He also writes on beauty and grooming for He is a Fragrantica writer, translator and editor of

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Nice article, by the way,you look good together ;-)


excelente entrevista, gracias Carlos Huber Por Estas dos fragancias Que seguramente serán del gusto de Todos y los pulgares arriba para Rodrigo Flores-Roux Uno de mis perfumistas Preferidos, Sin Duda dos Grandes Mexicanos Exitosos.

Conocí a Carlos Huber en el mostrador de Arquiste de barneys nueva York El año Pasado 2015, Un gran Ser Humano Lleno de sencillez, Éxito siempre querido Carlos.


excelente entrevista, gracias Carlos Huber por estas dos fragancias que seguramente serán del gusto de todos y los pulgares arriba para Rodrigo Flores-Roux uno de mis perfumistas preferidos, sin duda dos grandes mexicanos exitosos.

conocí a Carlos Huber en el mostrador de Arquiste de barneys new york el año pasado 2015, un gran ser humano lleno de sencillez , éxito siempre querido Carlos.


Thank you for the interview - I was very fortunate to meet Carlos this past week in New York and smell both of the new perfumes, they are excellent. I particularly like El, I think it's extremely masculine and I appreciate that he's deliberately making something so directly masculine and feminine, like two halves of a story. You've brought out some great descriptions from him about their creation, great work Miguel!


I am looking forward to sampling this but only because of the notes and because it's Rodrigo Flores-Roux. The blurb and the descriptions are terrible imo. As well as the visual ad. Panther-like, silvery moon and golden beach. Can u think of more cliches in one sentence?


Just had to order a sample of El after reading this. Intrigued!

Angela Agiannidou
Angela Agiannidou

Carlos certainly has a way with words as well as perfume! Beautiful, intoxicating descriptions of the inspiration behind both juices which took me straight to a very nostalgic, hedonistic and glamorous set up which I only know from films (the equivalent in Greece would be Mykonos in the 60s and 70s for sure). I would love to try both, actually, the world and his dog know I am never shy of a spice or two, or animalics for that matter.

drugstore classics
drugstore classics

Without doubt, Ella sounds considerably MORE vintage than most of the fragrances released with that ad copy.

Looking forward to sampling!


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