Whilst other brands are going high, Arquiste goes low with a quiet and understated scent which is good for easy days and low key vibes.
Ambergris accord, musks, clary sage, white pepper, coriander seed, sargassum, leather-like labdanum derivatives, okoume wood, ambermax.
Sometimes, those who shout the loudest get the most attention, but that isn’t always what you want. Sometimes loudness just won’t do. Instead you want a quiet cup of tea with intimate conversation about deep things, unheard by anyone else. The same is true for fragrance, and while lots of brands are going louder and louder, Arquiste is taking a turn away from its spicy smash hits and instead going down the road of quiet, calm and contemplative scents. Whether that is a wise decision or not will remain to be seen.
Peau is the latest release from Arquiste and right from the start it is clear that this scent is going for understated, minimalist luxury, rather than full on loud brashness. Peau opens with an aromatic, bracing freshness. This is reminiscent of the tough, aromatic grasses which grow on the margins where the sea meets the shore. Scoured by salty winds, the grasses cling to life with tenacity and quiet resilience, weathering storms and sunshine with a stoic determination. Their faintly spicy, aromatic fronds set against a backdrop of salty sea air (here in the form of the ambergris accord) give the start of Peau a pleasing vitality and verve but, like the margins of the seashore, the scent is sparse, understated, and perhaps a little bleak.
Peau settles and opens on skin with a fleeting series of different impressions along the broad track of this seaside theme. The salty mineral tang hangs around in the background and is augmented with glimpses of an almost soapy cleanliness, something a little earthy, and then the powdery intensity of white pepper. Peau’s full glory is revealed to us as something sharp, minimalist, under stated. It’s subtle, at times a little weird, feeling both like the beach edges we have described and a “your skin but better” type of fragrance. Whichever way you choose to view the scent though, it is clear that this is something quiet and intimate, subtle and delicate – a gossamer thread of a spider’s web slung between two strands of aromatic sea grass.
Aromatic and savoury, the sage and spices combined with the white pepper lead us nicely into a drier and slightly warmer base to the fragrance. Cedar and dry woods creep in and the saltiness from the ambergris accord lingers, giving that sandy, beachy, bleached feel.
Peau has the texture of velvety skin, and a nap which tantalises the nose as fabric teases the finger ends. This is one to try if you like blonde-woods and minimalism, beachy days or the snap of clean cotton. The marketing blurb for the scent talks about tragic love stories and the scent of a lover’s skin, and whilst there are hints of that here, it doesn’t quite capture the warmth or the sensuality that those ideas convey.
Whilst as a fragrance Peau is unlikely to garner the critical acclaim that stable mate Nanban does (or even favourite of The Sniff: The Architects Club) it will certainly find fans amongst those who prefer their fragrances on the pared down and slightly austere sides.
The other stuff
The projection of Peau is limited, even with multiple sprays it stays close to the body – at most going to somewhere between hugging and handshake distance.
The longevity of the fragrance is also on the lower end of the spectrum, lasting three or four hours following an application, but sometimes wavering in and out a bit so it feels like it has gone away only to reappear later on.
The perfumer for Peau was Rodrigo Flores-Roux.
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 plenty 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.
We were gifted a no-strings-attached sample of this fragrance by Bloom Perfumery – our thanks to them.
Image from Pixabay.