Tue. May 28th, 2024

Rising Spanish fashion designer Arturo Obegero unveils his second Azabache fragrance for Pigmentarium. For Numéro, he talks about the links between fashion and fragrance, and the new fragrance he has created with the luxury perfume brand from Prague, which evokes his native country.

Le créateur de mode espagnol Arturo Obegero.

Numéro : Smell is often regarded as the most evocative of the five senses. Scientists assert that recalling a scent from memory is nearly impossible. Yet, encountering a familiar one can instantly stir profound memories, reminiscent of Proust’s famed madeleine. 

Arturo Obegero : I completely agree with you. Smell is one of our most powerful and evocative senses. So many times, I find myself having random flashbacks of people and moments in the middle of the street after perceiving a certain scent; it’s almost like traveling in time.


What singular scent triggers your most potent memory?

There are plenty of scents, “good and bad,” that trigger my memories. I come from a small fishermen and surfing town in Northern Spain surrounded by the sea wherever you look (Tapia de Casariego in Asturias), so the smell of the sun and the salt against the skin, the smell of the ocean, and even the smell of the wax on the surfboards, make me think of my family and my roots. Every time I smell it, I feel like I’m back home for a few seconds.


You also mention some less pleasant smells. What are they?

There are also other “not so fancy” scents that make me think of home, from the seaweed drying in the sun, to even the cows and animals that are raised in my hometown. For some people, those smells are not attractive, but they remind me of home, to a point that I find them appealing. I find that incredibly interesting, how the attraction to, and combination of smells and memories can be extreme.

As a fashion designer, do you incorporate fragrances into your creative process? If so, in what ways do scents influence your work?

I had never included fragrances in my creative process before. Until now, I was only working with memories, feelings, images, etc., but creating this perfume alongside Pigmentarium allowed me to dig deeper into my references, and even to create a more complete and 360-degree vision of what my creative universe is. It’s the cherry on top, the ultimate touch that brings soul to your clothing.


And how do you proceed? 

Now I always have Azabache chapter 2 with me; I spray it during fittings, during the shows, even when I’m pattern cutting and sewing. It allows me to always have in mind a clear picture of the characters I’m trying to build.


The intertwining of fashion and perfumery traces back to the dawn of haute couture, exemplified by Poiret and Chanel introducing their iconic fragrances in the early 20th century. In your perspective, why do these fields synergize so harmoniously?

Fashion and Perfumery go hand in hand. Both fields are about creating emotions, about making you feel good, about desire, attraction, empowerment. Fashion is definitely more visual and perfume is more abstract, but together they are the ultimate “Molotov cocktail.”

Tomáš Ric, le fondateur et directeur créatif de Pigmentarium.

In 2021, you debuted Azabache, your inaugural fragrance collaboration with Pigmentarium. What ignited this venture, and what led you to select Pigmentarium for this distinctive project?

We were introduced by my boyfriend via Zoom, and we immediately clicked. Normally, fashion houses wait years until they launch their perfume, but we all were eager to work and create together; it felt like it was the perfect time to do it. They are a great and passionate team, we shared a lot of the same values, and we are both young brands working hard to bring something new, qualitative, and special to the table, so it was a match made in heaven.


How does Pigmentarium stand out from other brands?

First of all, their quality is insane, and they are great at proposing something super classy and luxe, yet still keeping a fresh and young approach. They are also interested in creating a lifestyle, something I deeply respect and I try to evoke with my clothing. 


How did you work with their teams? 

We started discussing and exchanging information and references back in 2020. I created a playlist with some of my favorite music to create a mood, I sent them images that inspired me, video references of performances, words, artists, and art that I loved; we even discussed real people who I think would represent the perfume, we also discussed my roots, memories, and all the references in my universe. It was great to see how they translated something so personal and intangible to something real.


Could you elaborate on the inspiration behind Azabache and its reflection of your artistic ethos?

Something we agreed on from the beginning was its name. Azabache is a stone typical from my region that can rarely be found anymore. I always carry an Azabache necklace with me. It has a rich and esoteric history, from protection and healing powers to also being used in the embroidery of the Matador suits, haute couture from Cristobál Balenciaga, and in the folklore of my hometown. It’s also black, my key color, which to me is the ultimate and most powerful and poetic one; it can express any emotion, and it allows you to focus on the silhouette and the real essences of things.

Le parfum Azabache Chapter 2 d’Arturo Obegero pour Pigmentarium.

Have you had a chance to visit the Pigmentarium teams in Prague?

Yes, I’m almost a local in Prague, jajaja, just joking! But I have been there already 4-5 times, and I love it. Back in 2021, I went to Prague to hand paint all the 300 bottles for the first, and limited edition of Azabache. The city is gorgeous, it feels like walking in a fairy tale. It’s clean, calm, with incredible architecture, and the people are friendly, definitely on my top list of cities! I’m lucky to be friends with Tomáš Ric, the founder and creative director of the brand, as well as the entire Pigmentarium team and community. They are all hardworking, friendly, and incredibly supportive!


Given the divergent cultural backgrounds of Spain and the Czech Republic, how did your exchange influence creativity and inspiration?

To be honest, I think Spanish and Czech have a lot in common; there’s a certain sense of humor that we share, and I could totally see some strong connections between both our architectures. We share a Gothic element that is still present in our cultures.


Recently, you unveiled a new iteration of the Azabache fragrance. What sets it apart from the original? Does this fragrance mark a progression in your evolution as a fashion designer ?

The original Azabache consisted of 300 limited edition bottles, so we wanted to respect that first formula but at the same time create something new. A second chapter in our olfactory novel. We wanted to develop Azabache Chapter 2 into a perfume that would reflect our current situation. Both brands have matured and grown a lot in the last 3 years, and I believe this new formula reflects this perfectly; it feels much more rounded and complete. It has the base elements of the original, but with some new twists and balsamic notes at the end that create a warmer and even more seductive feeling that I love!


Lastly, your absence from the FW24 fashion week has sparked speculation. Can we anticipate a new collection debut in June?

To be honest, I’m not aware of any speculation because most of the time I’m cutting and sewing at home, haha, so I live in my bubble, but I’m not going to lie, it’s extremely hard to present a collection every 6 months as a young designer. I don’t have investors, contacts, or anyone supporting me economically. I do mostly everything myself at home, with a group of incredible friends and collaborators who support and believe in me season after season. I’d rather present something great than something that feels “half done.” That’s why I decided that the best option was to skip last season, to save some coins and to make sure we come back stronger than ever.


Also, after working with artists like Beyoncé, Adele, or Harry Styles, I’m realizing that my future is made to order, bespoke, and special projects.

I’m currently working on my upcoming collection, which will be presented during June’s Men’s PFW. It’s the 10th collection I’ve done in my career, so it’s a bit of a look back into how much we have accomplished with the brand in only 3-4 years. And obviously, I’m biased, but it’s definitely the best collection I’ve done so far. I couldn’t be more excited to show it; we have something great in the kitchen!


Azabache by Arturo Obegero for Pigmentarium is available from pigmentarium.com, NOSE at 20 Rue Bachaumont, Paris and noseparis.com.


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