Jan Ahlgren Interview:
Vilhelm Parfumerie

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Stockholm 1978 by Parfumerie Vilhelm Jan Ahlgren

Jan Ahlgren has changed careers from Chanel model to perfumer, launching Vilhelm Parfumerie:

Jan Ahlgren was born and raised his father’s native Sweden, now the half American resides in New York, from where he operates Vilhelm Parfumerie, his  newly-launched, niche fragrance company, The relatively recent move Stateside followed a hectic, and in Jan Ahlgren’s own words, ‘nomadic’ period as a model, grazing international billboards for companies including Chanel.

The seven Vilhelm Parfumerie fragrances have been created in close cooperation with Jérôme Epinette. An alumnus of the Grasse Institute of Perfumery, Epinette has also concocted fragrances for the likes of Byredo and Oribe. Vilhelm Parfumerie fragrances collect the most diverse yet equally immersive inspirations: ‘Room Service’ conjures images of Greta Garbo hiding from the public eye in glamorous hotel rooms via violet petals, pink orchids and green bamboo; while ‘Smoke Show’ re-imagines dimly lit, Jazz Age nightclubs, combining sweet roses with masculine leather and exotic spices.

Interview with Jan Ahlgren about Vilhelm Parfumerie, New York and modelling for Chanel:

You just launched your own perfume company, Vilhelm Parfumerie, how did this change of career come about?

Jan Ahlgren: I was designing leather bags and wanted to scent the leather and to give the bags a specific scent, just like the glove makers did during the 18th century in France. Through Angelina Jolin, a Swedish stylist and friend, I came to meet with the parfumer Jerome Epinette. Jerome and I really developed a strong friendship during the process of figuring out exactly how to go about scenting the bags. Very quickly, I totally fell in love with the world of fragrance and I really discovered my passion in life.

What are the steps involved in creating each scent?

Jan Ahlgren: For example, the inspiration for Morning Chess, came from the scent of the summers at my family’s summer home in Sweden. We wanted to capture fresh cut grass and somehow convey the feeling that it brings me. I will have long talks with Jerome and, based on my description of what I want and what I remember, try to realise this. We spend countless hours trying different ingredients and compositions, until the scent and the memory are one in the same. It’s a very creative and wonderful process; the perfumers are true artists.

Scent have so much to do with memories…

Jan Ahlgren: My earliest scent memory is from our Swedish family summer home in Falkenberg. I remember strongly the scent of fresh cut grass; my dad would always cut the grass the moment we got there, and he’d come in with the smell dancing in the air behind him. Isn’t it unbelievable how strong and clear we can remember scents? It really can transport you back in time.

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What, to you personally, is the scent of:

Summer:

Jan Ahlgren: (The) scent of summer for me is a mixture of scent memories from my childhood. Green grass, citrus from the lemons we would squeeze into lemonade. Anything fresh, really.

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Your hometown:

Jan Ahlgren: For hometown, I would say salt water. I grew up by the sea and one of my many great and beautiful memories with my father was when we used to walk down to the coast and wash our faces in the salt water. The smell of saltwater transports me all those miles and years back there with my dad.

New York:

Jan Ahlgren: Well, there are so many scents in New York, I would have to say roses. My wife and I have spoiled each other by buying each other roses; for big achievements, to cheer each other up, or just to do something sweet. One weekend, we were laughing because we looked around the apartment and counted over 10 dozen roses, I hadn’t realised it and kept buying them! We absolutely love flowers and I think many florists in our neighborhood know who we are 🙂 Because it’s Mother’s Day this weekend, we just dropped off two large bouquets of flowers at our fragrance counter here in New York. Oh, in London I would recommend a visit to Astrid at the Flower shop at Liberty. She is so knowledgeable and a true creative!

Luxury:

Jan Ahlgren: I guess when I think of luxury, I think of perfume. Maybe this is because of our business, or maybe because it is, in fact, such a beautiful pursuit. The scent, the sound and sensation of the spray from the bottle, the packaging, the resistance and release of the cap. All of it is so delicate and fine, but powerful, too. As for a luxurious scent, I suppose Sycamore by Chanel is Luxury and our own Room Service.

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