The fragrance captivates you as soon as you enter the room: American Beauty rose, violet, white lily and cherry blossom with hints of exotic wood and potted palms. You inhale as you pass by intricate and ornate arrangements of flowers, matching pale pinks, deep purples and fresh greens to the scent perfuming the air. You smile at George Vanderbilt. You pass Philip Schuyler, descendant of none other than Alexander Hamilton. You and your 400 fellow gala attendees have entered The St. Regis New York at the corner of 55th and 5th Avenue, feeling as though you are in the center of the world. You make your way to the hostess at the other end of the ballroom, who is glittering like a thousand diamonds.
This was the experience of walking into the newly opened St. Regis New York in 1904 for an extravagant ball hosted by New York socialite and tastemaker, Caroline Astor, who also happened to be the matriarch of the St. Regis’s founding family. Naturally, this is also the experience of walking into any St. Regis today.
World-renowned scent designer, historical preservationist and founder of ARQUISTE Parfumeur, Carlos Huber, partnered with St. Regis to develop a signature fragrance for the hotel brand. Known for designing scents that call to mind a particular place or time period, Huber wove in scents from flowers used at Caroline Astor’s final ball so that when guests walk through a St. Regis, it is as though they are entering one of her famed balls.
The fragrance, aptly named Caroline’s Four Hundred, carries notes of American Beauty rose, Mrs. Astor’s favorite flower, along with the woods and palms that would adorn her ballrooms. Though she may have felt a particular fondness for the American Beauty rose, Caroline Astor loved all flowers. Delicate violets served as centerpieces in the dining room. Soft, white Easter lilies made grand displays in the ballroom. And sweet quince blossoms greeted guests throughout the party. Each of these flowers plays a role in Caroline’s Four Hundred.
While we’re familiar with the idea that scent can transport us into a memory, Huber takes this one step further, using fragrance to transport us to a place and time we’ve never experienced. “Fragrance, has the power to transport you back to an ex-lover or to a holiday or to a city,” Huber says. “So, I thought, what if we could connect that personal memory to something that has a bit more gravitas, something a bit more inspiring, something that takes you out of the ordinary?”
A stay at St. Regis is certainly anything but ordinary and that begins as soon as you walk through the door and experience its signature fragrance. Whether you simply let the scent wash over you or prefer to close your eyes and imagine a spectacular ball, the result is the same. You know you have walked into someplace special.
And whether you’re planning to host your own magical event or you simply want your home to smell as though you are, you can infuse your living space with Caroline’s Four Hundred as well.