Arquiste perfumes founder Carlos Huber on the smell he’ll never forget.

Twilight in San Miguel de Allende, in Huber’s native Mexico. The country served as inspiration for one of his brand’s signature scents, photograph by Don Riddle

Fewer things get me more excited than fragrances, but I never thought one would change my life.

I’ve always loved history, and incorporate that passion into my perfumes, which are designed to recreate the olfactory experience of moments in time.

When I created Arquiste’s Flor y Canto, I based it on Mexican flowers like tuberose, gardenia, and magnolia — plants once harvested by the Aztecs, who believed they represented the gods.

Magnolias were among the flowers Huber used to create Flor y Canto, photograph by Liz West

Smelling that fragrance for the first time was the most important thing I’ve ever done for my brand.

It was like opening a door to Mexico: the scent evoked a connection to my parents’ home, in Mexico City, which I always buy tuberose for when I visit. I called my mom to share the news and we both started crying. I was totally lost in the moment.

Finally, I understood the emotional power of perfume.

— as told to The Thick

Did you see? Editor and master perfumer, SunHee Grinnell & Frederic Malle, discuss the art of looking, and smelling, like a million bucks, editor Jane Larkworthy takes The Thick Questionnaire.


Center, from left: A bottle of Arquiste's Flor y Canto, photograph by Clayton Ilolahia; a magnolia flower, photograph by Stef Ashbolt; Huber (left) smelling his fragrance, photograph courtesy of Carlos Huber