Arcadia Fragrance Founder Amna Habtoor On Being In The Business Of Creating Memories

BY Olivia Phillips / Dec 10 2019 / 15:02 PM

The perfumer, the empathetic one and the fragrance brand Arcadia's founder...

Arcadia Fragrance Founder Amna Habtoor On Being In The Business Of Creating Memories
Eva Kruiper
Amna wears: (RH) Possession Open Bangle Bracelet, Dhs42,000 (two pieces); Possession Open Bangle Bracelet, Dhs109,000; Possession Ring, Dhs68,500; Possession Open Ring, Dhs16,500; (LH) Limelight Stella Watch, Dhs124,000, all Piaget. Abaya, Dhs2,000, Chi-Ka

There’s an alchemy to creating perfume that Amna knows only too well. She launched her fragrance line, Arcadia, back in 2015 and has since created scents that conjure and evoke, resonate and transport. And as you would expect, the emotion that they can inspire in people is something she does not take lightly.

“We’ve launched two perfume editions so far, each with an immersive event,” Amna explains. “The first was more whimsical, while the second was the dark series, because in life, bad things happen. You go through hardship, you go through loss, and we don’t talk about it that much,” she says, looking us straight in the eye. “It’s ok to say you’ve fallen down.” In an age of hyper-filtering, it’s a powerful and necessary reminder. “The event was supposed to represent imperfection and how to be ok with that. And so many people opened up during it. They were so raw with their feelings.”

Visibly moved when recounting this, it hammers home that Amna, as she tells us, is “the empathetic one.” She’s sensitive – and it’s to her credit. In fact, we would say with absolute certainty that it’s why Arcadia has been such a success. After all, when you’re in the business of creating memories, your sensibilities need to be operating on a higher plane than everyone else’s.

“I feel that our sense of smell is often taken for granted. Perfume can bring a memory to life in an instant. It’s a time machine. It can mark milestones – like Infinity, the one I created for my wedding day as favours for our guests. Little did I know that two years later I would launch the brand. I just wanted a lovely gift for everyone that represented my husband and I.”

On the topic of gifts, Amna’s other most-cherished item was also a present; a vintage Piaget watch given to her by her late father-in-law as part of her wedding dowry. “He bought it but never got to give it to me before he passed away. My husband felt the loss that he never got to meet me, and vice versa, but I’m happy to know I meant something to him. It’s something I carry with me all the time.”

From the December 2019 issue of Harper's BAZAAR Arabia

Photography by Eva Kruiper
Styling by Anna Castan
Words by Olivia Phillips

Hair and Make-up: Sharon Drugan. Videographer: Augusta Quaynor at MMG Artists. Digital Direction: Elizabeth Kelly Photography Assistant: Reymund Ronald Lozano at HotCold Studio. Fashion Assistants: Anna Smolenko, Joyce Gereige and Zach Nouri. Producer: Elle Hutchinson. Producer’s Assistant: Brian Timmer