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Carlos Huber: The Nose Knows

Sophy Holland

Carlos Huber’s scents of history

Each fragrance tells a story, but ask Carlos Huber to share his inspiration for his niche perfume brand, Arquiste, and you easily get into Ph.D.-worthy specifics. "During a recent trip, I learned about a galleon that transported spices and leather between Japan and the West in 1618," he says about Nanban, his latest creation. "Most people think Japan was isolated until the mid-19th century, so I did more research to try to capture that in a bottle."

A self-proclaimed "history geek," Huber attributes his love of pleasant smells and obscure historical anecdotes to his upbringing in Mexico City. "Some people think of history as basking in nostalgia. For me it's more about understanding where we come from, and where we might end up."

Huber moved to New York in 2006 to study historic preservation at Columbia University. He launched Arquiste after spending a year and a half learning about perfume with professional "nose" Rodrigo Flores-Roux, who still composes most of the brand's juices. This fall, they will expand Arquiste's fragrance library with a line of candles, including one exclusive to J. Crew stores.

Huber also developed a signature scent for St. Regis Hotels: an exquisite white bouquet (a nod to one of Caroline Astor's lavish ballroom parties) that was chosen over more established perfume houses. "The storytelling behind the scent is not a marketing device," Huber explains. "It's about bringing you something that can inspire you, and maybe even transport you."

Read more about Nanban in our Best New Fall Fragrances roundup

Photography by Sophy Holland. Groomer: Angela Di Carlo.

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