A distillery in the Yucatan Peninsula recreates ancient fragrances meant for everyone –a child, a grandfather, a Parisian or a Mayan
In the early 16th century, during the Spanish conquest of the Maya, the Franciscan friars struck landing on the shores of the New World and established themselves in the Yucatan Peninsula, in Mexico. They started to distill their own perfumes, having at their disposal the abundance of flowers, plants and herbs of the tropical forest. They created a botanical catalogue and designed formulas for their colognes, emulsions and scents – the Yucatan perfumes soon gained popularity, and were a staple at the Spanish Imperial court for over three centuries. The friars’ perfume legacy was forgotten with the crumbling of the Spanish Empire’s monopoly over its colonies, only to be rediscovered centuries later by landscape architect and model Nicolas Malleville.
Malleville first moved to Mexico in 2001, and fell in love with the country. Drawing from his knowledge as landscape architect and botanist, he conceived what would become his life project, deciding to build himself a house in Tulum. In 2003, he married Francesca Bonato, an Italian designer, and due to their shared love for architecture, design, and interior décor, they decided to create the Coqui Coqui Lifestyle Group.
In the same year, they founded Coqui Coqui Perfumeria in Valladolid, with the goal of recovering the friars’ old formulas, combining them with the principles of ancient Mayan medicine to hand-craft a range of organic scents, inspired by the region’s flowers, fruits, woods and herbs. Malleville and Bonato gathered a botanical catalogue of scents from the area and conducted years of research before opening their perfumery shop.
Part of the Coqui Coqui Residences & Spa, the Perfumerìa is located in a restored 16th century colonial stone building in the city of Valladolid, in an area where paved roads transition into cobblestone roads. From the moment guests step through the Moorish domed front door and into the Perfumeria, they are enveloped in Coqui Coqui’s signature coconut and orange blossom aroma. An array of their fifteen fragrances is displayed under glass dome cloches on a black counter. The two founders entrusted local manufacturers with the store’s furnishings, which include Moorish tile floors, high ceilings, wooden beams and furniture, brass hanging mirrors.
Coqui Coqui offers a unisex perfume catalogue created with ingredients that are sourced in the surrounding area. The extracts of each ingredient are distilled through artisanal methods and blended at Coqui Coqui’s flagship perfumery in Valladolid. This ensures quality during the extraction process, and allows the fragrances to represent the Yucatan Peninsula and support its people. «You can distinguish the scent of vanilla beans, avocado oil and palm trees, all grown in our proximity» affirms Malleville.
The Perfumerìa holds all scents created by Malleville and his team over the last decade – each fragrance evoking a different facet of the peninsula. For example, Rosas Frescas is inspired by the city of Valladolid and features notes of red rosewater that recall the village’s religious festival known as Madonna de Candelaria. The fragrances are available in the form of perfume, as well as scented candle, linen spray, bath oil, and more.
One of Malleville and Bonato’s priority is inclusiveness: «We wanted to create fragrances that a child, my grandfather, a Parisian or a Mayan could wear».IMAGE GALLERY