Over the past week as I have been exploring Arquiste, one thing I have come to appreciate about the collection is the clever marriage between tradition and modernity. For Anima Dulcis, Arquiste’s founder, Carlos Huber, calls upon the vast skill of both Yann Vasnier and Rodrigo Flores-Roux to challenge the popular gourmand theme and find an unchartered expression.
Although cocoa notes have been used in perfumery before, Anima Dulcis tells a culinary tale that is uniquely Mexican. And the olfactory backdrop in which the narrative is presented is done in a sophisticated way, meaning there is no risk of feeling like a Cadbury chocolate bar after a few sprays, which is the sentiment some other cocoa laced fragrances fall victim to. On a backdrop of an oriental chypre, Anima Dulcis is as innovative as the story that inspired its creation. The year is 1695 in Mexico City and nuns of the Royal Convent of Jesus Maria are preparing a baroque recipe of spiced cocoa. Today mole is prepared with ground cocoa, at least two varieties of chilli pepper and dried spices such as cumin, cinnamon, cloves and nuts or seeds such as sesame. The spicy chocolate sauce is commonly served with meat. The preparation is laborious and if done by hand can require an entire day of work. As such, secret recipes have been passed through the hands of generations of Mexican women and it is a symbol of the culture clash of a postcolonial Mexico, requiring ingredients native to the Americas, Africa and Europe.
Savoury chocolate may seem like an oxymoron to the Western palette yet the spicy chocolate condiment has been popular in Mexico for centuries and taking this tradition into perfume works remarkably well. From the moment the scent makes contact with skin, rich notes of the darkest chocolate overwhelm the senses. Notes of sesame seed, oregano and dry spices build character as Anima Dulcis evolves through its different phases on skin. The spices also pave the way for a classic oriental chypre accord to come forward. With such a complex arrangement of notes, Anima Dulcis is easily adaptable to both genders. It is a curious odour I keep going back to my wrist to smell, even as I type this post. Within the Arquiste collection, I find Anima Dulcis to be the most bewitching, even if I am less inclined to wear it as regularly as my favourites, Fleur de Louis and Boutonniere No 7.
Over 7 days I am writing about my exploration of each of the 7 fragrances that make up the Arquiste collection. Australian readers can enter a draw to win a set of Arquiste samples by clicking here. Tomorrow’s post reviews Aleksandr.