Vilhelm Parfumerie Is the Fragrance Label That’ll Have You Swooning over Its Romantic Roots

We met with Jan Ahlgren, the model-turned-fragrance designer behind Vilhelm Parfumerie.

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With scents inspired by the emotions and memories of smoky jazz clubs and Greta Garbo, each of Vilhelm Parfumerie’s luxurious fragrances have a story to tell. The best story of all, however, isn’t rooted in fantasy. Rather, it’s taken from model-turned-perfume designer Jan Ahlgren’s real life romance with his wife, Polly. Created as a tribute to his better half, the aptly named Dear Polly is a complex swirl of bergamot, black Ceylon tea, apple, musk and black amber. And if those notes don’t tickle your fancy, the niche parfumerie currently offers 11 scents on its website (with even more fragrances hitting the German market later this year), meaning you’re sure to find the unique blend of your dreams.

Though he’s based in New York, we met with Ahlgren while he was in Hamburg for Vilhelm’s official German launch. There, he gave us some insight into the brand’s intimate sources of inspiration, its decadent packaging and his favourite scent.

Vilhelm Parfumerie is a very personal project for you, with Dear Polly inspired by your wife and the brand’s name as well as the scent Morning Chess by your grandfather. Was this intimate approach a conscious decision for you?

The brand is sort of my baby, and it is very personal. There are so many brands out there today and consumers are looking for something more than a marketing tactic. They want something real, and that’s what we’re offering.

How do you come up with the memories behind each scent?

I have a very wild imagination and my head is always going in different directions. Sometimes all it takes is an idea or a specific note that I want to explore. Then I work with my perfumer to create many, many prototypes until we’ve landed on the perfect scent.

What is your favourite smell?


You’ve lived in many cities around the world, including Stockholm, Paris and New York. Are there any differences in the way women from these cities approach scent?

London has a lot of Middle Eastern customers who are interested in perfume with heavier notes. Whereas across the United States, I notice that the average woman prefers something lighter.

What is the inspiration behind your packaging?

We went with yellow because it invokes happiness, while still retaining the luxury feel to the packaging. And with the typeface on our boxes, that was inspired by hieroglyphics. At first glance, the design looks like a pattern, but turned to the side you can see that each box spells out the name of the scent.

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Vilhelm Parfumerie is available at Colette Paris, Barneys New York and Ludwig Beck. For more information please visit

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