The history-obsessed perfumer creates new fragrances for J. Crew.
In dreaming up scents for his fragrance line, Arquiste, Carlos Huber refers to moments in history: an 1837 duel in Russia; a 12th-century citrus harvest in Italy. So when J. Crew tapped him to create its first fine fragrance, he went back to the books. “J. Crew’s fall 2014 collection is based on Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice, and that led me to Peggy Guggenheim,” he says. “She lived in Venice but had a very New York attitude.” Huber’s collaborators, the perfumers Rodrigo Flores-Roux and Yann Vasnier, homed in on Guggenheim’s 1943 “Exhibition by 31 Women.” “Her gallery had these oak ‘arms’ that held the paintings, and red vermouth and single malt whiskey were in the cocktails she served. We used vermouth in one scent and oak in the other.” The unisex No. 57 also has notes of cedar, cinnamon, and whiskey; and the more feminine No. 31 adds rose and plum. Originally, the plan had been to launch just one scent, but J. Crew president and executive creative director Jenna Lyons fell for both. Says Huber, “Jenna has a great nose.”