Arquiste Parfumeur Anima Dulcis : Perfume Review


A piece of dark chocolate is my idea of a perfect dessert. It is bitter and creamy, sweet and nutty, tender and animalic. Chocolate has such a kaleidoscopic range of flavors and aromas that it would seemingly be perfect as a perfume note. Yet, instead of conveying luscious darkness, most chocolate fragrances go no further than the creamy cocoa impression suggested by vanilla and milky notes.

Still Life with Sweets and Pottery


As beautiful as true dark chocolate can be, it is extremely challenging to work into a composition. The very qualities that chocolate lovers crave—bitterness and richness—can register more like a gamey stew than a mouthwatering confection. Enter Arquiste Parfumeur Anima Dulcis, a fragrance that does not shy away from bringing out the animalic facets of bitter chocolate, while remaining harmonious and tempting. It is an oriental composition that hints at gourmand, but ends up in an unexpected chocolate incense territory.

Arquiste Parfumeur is a relatively new niche line conceived by architect Carlos Huber. Huber worked on restoring old buildings, and his taste for history is clear in the inspiration behind each fragrance: the Russia of Nicolas I, the engagement between Louis XIV and Infanta Maria Teresa of Spain, the 12th century Calabria, and the interior of the Royal Convent of Jesus Maria in Mexico. The unexpected intersection of the convent and the pastry kitchen is the idea behind Anima Dulcis, an amber oriental composition developed by perfumers Rodrigo Flores-Roux and Yann Vasnier.

I find Anima Dulcis to be deliciously baroque. The dazzle of cinnamon, pepper and orange gives way to a beautiful heart of sweet amber. It evokes the warm and sticky resin of freshly cut wood and the softness of melting caramel. The layer of chocolate appears soon thereafter. It is sweet and creamy, but the strong animalic accent—a mix of tanned leather, dark musk and salty skin—transforms chocolate into something far more sensual. A splash of smoky incense gives an unusual somber twist to Anima Dulcis, becoming both a reminder of its austere roots and a relief from indulgence.

It is a great gourmand fragrance for those who do not want to be mistaken for a lollipop. While vanilla softens out some rough edges, Anima Dulcis requires an appreciation of the animalic effects.  The resinous amber dominates the gourmand sweetness, and as such it would be equally delicious on both women and men. Since I enjoy Tauer L’Air du Desert Marocain or Annick Goutal Ambre Fétiche, Anima Dulcis appeals for its similarly opulent character. Its play on textures and impressions, its surprising contrasts and its sensual character make for an irresistible morsel.

Arquiste Parfumeur Anima Dulcis includes notes of cinnamon, chocolate, spices, and vanilla. Available at Barneys, 55 ml/$165.

Recommended posts:

Olfactory Desserts : On Gourmand Fragrances

Chocolate Fragrances : From Flowers to Woods

Image: Still Life with Sweets and Pottery, painted by the Spanish baroque era painter Juan van der Hamen y Leon in 1627.

Sample: my own acquisition.



  • marlena: “It is a great gourmand fragrance for those who do not want to be mistaken for a lollipop.”
    It’s for me then. 🙂 My sister loves Pink Sugar and very sweet perfumes. On my skin they become cloying, a big turn off. Thanks for an interesting review. February 6, 2012 at 9:43am Reply

  • María Antonieta Reyes: Your post caught my attention because I studied the work of Juan van der Hamen y León and even wrote a thesis about him. I have a reproduction of this still life on my wall. February 6, 2012 at 10:25am Reply

  • Victoria: I like all types of fragrances, including gourmands (Lolita Lempicka is among my favorites). Anima Dulcis, though, would be nice for those who like ambers. It is woody and animalic, perhaps much more so than edible. February 6, 2012 at 10:46am Reply

  • Victoria: What a wonderful subject to study! I love his works too, and I also love the still life genre, especially when the paintings include food or objects that people would use in their daily lives. Such a great way to get a glimpse into another time and another world. Right now, I am wondering about the taste of those little glazed ring shaped cookies in the foreground of the painting. 🙂 February 6, 2012 at 10:52am Reply

  • ambergris: What a beautiful review! February 6, 2012 at 12:19pm Reply

  • Victoria: Thank you! Glad that you liked it. 🙂 February 6, 2012 at 1:56pm Reply

  • karin: I get a lot of immortelle from this one. It’s a great scent. I love it. February 6, 2012 at 2:32pm Reply

  • Victoria: It has that maple syrup/caramel note that I also love, yet thankfully that part doesn’t dominate. All in all, a fragrance with lots of different facets. My Indonesian friend smelled it on me and said that it smells to her of spicy wafers and temple incense. 🙂 February 6, 2012 at 2:35pm Reply

  • marlena: Sounds great! I haven’t heard of this line before. I’ll give it a try at Barneys. February 6, 2012 at 5:41pm Reply

  • Victoria: Yes, it’s fairly new. I discovered these perfumes about a month ago. February 6, 2012 at 6:57pm Reply

  • Charlie: Victoria, your beautiful review made me think of this poem:
    “O reader have you ever breathed,
    With drunkenness and greed’s faiblesse,
    The incense from a church recess,
    Sachets of chronic musk unsheathed?

    O deepest magic charm’s sweet thrall
    In present or in past restored!
    As lovers place on their adored
    Mnemonic petals of their fall.”

    …from Baudelaire’s Fleurs Du Mal

    (its all there!!!) February 6, 2012 at 7:20pm Reply

  • Victoria: Thank you, Charlie! It was fantastic to read this poem at the end of a long and extremely tiring day. And as you say, it is a perfect illustration for Anima Dulcis. February 6, 2012 at 8:09pm Reply

  • skilletlicker: Hi, Victoria. How would you compare Anima Dulcis to Etat Libre d’Orange’s Like This Tilda Swinton. Something about this review reminded me of your review of Like This – which I have fallen in love with! February 7, 2012 at 1:39pm Reply

  • Victoria: They are very different, but they share the woody gourmand character. Anima Dulcis is animalic and dark, much more so than Like This. It is closer to the two ambers I mentioned in the review. And Like This is more like Black Orchid by Tom Ford. February 7, 2012 at 1:50pm Reply

  • Charlie: You are very welcome! 🙂 February 7, 2012 at 8:26pm Reply

  • Kym: Sad to say, I didn’t care for this one at all and passed on my sample. Reminded me of Angel, not a dead ringer, but in the mould. February 8, 2012 at 3:53pm Reply

  • Victoria: Thank you, good to hear opposite opinions too. There are so many other perfumes to choose from. We would be broke if we loved everything. February 8, 2012 at 4:59pm Reply

  • Jinx Todd: Yours is the first true description of this fragrance I’ve been able to find. Thanks for the attention to detail. I’m interested in your insights on Clive Christian X. In addition, I rarely like florals, but my favorite Savannah Gardens by Crabtree and Evelyn has been discontinued. Perhaps you can recommend a fragrance with strongly similar notes? I particularly love the hyacinth aspect. Thanks! June 2, 2012 at 11:40pm Reply

  • Esperanza: Beautiful painting. Then you must love the Dutch Masters as well ! Loved your review. Very insightful. Cuirelle by Ramon Monegal reminded me of a bit Anima Dulcis as well. Same touch of caramel note which I love as well. September 28, 2012 at 7:40am Reply

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