As old books decay they give off a chemical which smells a little like vanilla. For bibliophiles that scent is soothing, reassuring and as utterly addictive as the act of reading itself. The Architects Club by Arquiste is the closest perfumery comes to capturing that paper-and-ink vibe and it does so in a beautifully interpreted way.
Juniper berry oil, angelica root, bitter orange, lemon sfumatrice, Italian bergamot, French clary, lavender, pink peppercorn, pepper wood, cardamom seed oil absolute, coriander seed oil, black currant buds absolute, iris absolute, wood from Paraguay, oak wood extract, cedar wood, cypriol oil, Haitian vetiver, vanilla absolute, ambermax, ambrettolide.
The Architects Club begins, a little unexpectedly perhaps, with a thin, transparent citrus note. It shimmers and fizzes slightly as if mimicking the bubbles in a gin and tonic caressing the slice of lemon that might have been used to garnish. This hint of citrus calls to mind refreshment and reinvigoration but it is dainty here, pretty, and perfectly poised at the gateway to the rest of the fragrance. A hint of herbal sharpness from the juniper punctuates the citrus. It stops the lemon from becoming too obvious and gives it an air of refinery and elegance as opposed to the lemony freshness of say shower gel or dish washing soap. A trace of pepper stands behind both the lemon and the juniper just giving the slightest trace of warmth.
The very start of this fragrance is quite cool, a little aloof almost, and if it references a party then its one of those gatherings where you don’t know many people and they all look at you as you walk in. You can’t quite decide if they’re unfriendly or just unfamiliar so you play it cool yourself. The addition of the subtle peppery note is really clever – it forms a link between this slightly cool opening and the much warmer phases that follow – it’s the thread that draws you down into the much snugglier embrace of the later phases of the scent.
As the fragrance hits its stride, The Architects Club really warms up, and gives us the goods that we have come for. A fabulous papery accord emerges, with hints of the lemon we smelled at the start clinging to it. It smells like big sheets of thick, luxurious quality artists paper, deeply concentrated so you don’t have to settle for catching the odd whiff of it here and there, instead you can take big, greedy lungfuls of the stuff. Breathing it in as if inhaling all the knowledge from all the books in all the libraries of the world. There’s something really wonderful about wearing a fragrance that allows you to do that, to satisfy a want you only had an inkling that you possessed. You can practically hear the paper creaking as it gives up its glorious aroma and it is hard to feel anything other than joyful as you snuffle it up.
There’s something romantic about the heart of this fragrance. It makes you think of old leather bound books slumbering silently on library shelves, but there is enough residual energy there for this to be full of promise rather than stuffy and boring. It made us imagine that moment in films when the heroine removes a book from the shelf only to find the enigmatically attractive eyes of some hottie looking back at her. We understand in that moment that he loves her because she likes the books, not despite of that fact. The Architects Club reassures us that we are just as lovely, or at the very least we can smell just as lovely.
The final phases of The Architects Club settle into a warm and comforting vanilla hum that keeps an interesting fresh sharpness about it. It has a citrusy tone that is noticeable when you inhale the scent in, but which then melts into the dreamy vanilla.
Floating about in the background is the memory of smoke. It’s as if someone has burned some of the architect’s drawings in the grate of the long-dead fire and you’ve come along and picked up a fragment of scorched paper. Its smell clings to your finger tips. The delicate smokiness and the warm snuggle of vanilla last until the scent disappears.
The Architects Club has a beautiful duality about it, being both ethereal and grounded at the same time, especially towards the end of the wear. The brand describe the scent as focussing on contrasts and indeed they have pulled this off quite successfully. Many harmonious yet opposing partnerships can be found in the scent, from the sour citrus against the sweet vanilla, to the grounded paper against the flightiness of smoke, cool notes set against warm, things that smell old alongside those that smell new. So many beautiful partnerships make up this scent that you can easily find yourself lost and absorbed in its loveliness.
Try this fragrance if you are a vanilla fan, or if you like books, or indeed if you want to wear something that will make you irresistible to people who like books. The Architects Club is a very beautiful, delicate and finely nuanced little number which has become a firm favourite of ours here at The Sniff.
The other stuff
The Architects Club is not a loud fragrance, but it is a tenacious one. The projection of the scent is modest, reaching to about handshake distance at most but the fragrance easily lasts the whole day through, seeming to hover at about the same volume regardless of whether you have just applied it, or it is hour ten of a wear. The staying power of the scent is something which really sold it to us. Although the fragrance is delicate, it lasts. It would be very easy to imagine that a scent this finely detailed would disappear after a couple of hours but that really isn’t the case. The rich vanilla and delicate smoke linger beautifully.
This is a fragrance which doesn’t lean particularly masculine or feminine, it can very easily be worn by anyone who enjoys it.
In terms of when to wear this, its delicacy suits daytime and early evening wear for casual and semi formal occasions. It’s a lovely scent to wear to the office, or for lunch out, even for a relaxed date. It really is a crowd pleaser that just works on so many levels and at so many different times.
Arquiste are best known for their stormingly successful spicy fragrance, Nanban, which could be in danger of eclipsing the rest of their line. Although Nanban is their most famous creation, the brand has a high quality line up with some really thoughtful and well constructed scents and almost all of them are deserving of attention. Presented in beautiful globular bottles with a heavy metal cap, the bottles really do enhance what is already a luxurious experience.
Arquiste’s marketing schtick is that they recreate scent-moments from the past, blending perfume with historical research and references. The Architects Club is inspired by the renovation of famous department store, Claridges, in the late 1920s and early 1930s. As the renovations neared completion, the architects gathered in a blur of cigarettes and gin and tonics to admire their work. This is the perfumed memory that they left behind.
We were very kindly given a no-strings-attached sample of this scent by Bloom Perfumery, and we then went on to purchase a bottle at our own cost (ie not gifted to us) because we liked it so much.