Wylde Loves: Agonist Perfumes
Romance the Nordic way: Agonist pulls off the grand seduction
By Luke Singleton
Chelsea’s most-adored deco treasure-trove, The Shop At Bluebird, played host to the latest fragrance launch fromAgonist, the luxury Swedish perfume house inspired by the marriage of its creators Christine and Niclas Lydeen. Being disciplined in the visual arts, fashion (Christine studied at Studio Bercot in Paris) and graphic design (Niclas), has clearly nuanced the conceptual direction of the brand, since its inception in 2008. The shop floor was dotted with various display cases exhibiting curious glass objects of virtu in brilliant colours, an exemplification of the spirit of each fragrance. Here, the Lydeens are coolly making the case for perfume as portable art.
Independent and freethinking, Agonist is a perfume house that stands out as atypical, perhaps even radical. Each unisex parfum contains an experimental base - nature at its most exotic - with unusual derivatives such as Red Seaweed, Thornbush Flower and Java Vetiver. The Lydeens' office in Sweden has a legendary sea view, and the natural beauty of the Scandinavian landscape and its wealth of organic, sustainable ingredients provides the inspiration. “We are translating Mother Nature into a scent - doesn’t that sound interesting?” Niclas grins. This is most pronounced in fragrances such as Blue North - a clean, blue-sky scent blending cardamom, spearmint and white cedar, and Onyx Pearl – a warm, amorous bouquet of oriental flowers, cut with Arabian oud and white musk.
The biochemical origins of the name Agonist attests that, for its creators, there must be more to producing fragrance than simply combining ingredients. There is a very human, emotional propensity to creating smells, particularly as a duo. “Sometimes we just focus on adding emotions, as well as ingredients, to produce a particular mood”, Niclas explains. “And the mood for a Scandinavian person is not always happy!” Christine points to one of the encased ornaments, a hot-pink glass vial, nestled next to the scent that inspired it, White Lies; a rousing synthesis of aromas, clashing tuberose with orcanox, and lychees with raspberries. “The emotion behind this particular piece, and scent, is jealousy,” Christine affirms. “With a seductive, fiery temperament.” There are others too, which seem laced with a similar amorousness: the sizzling, pink-peppercorn scentThe Infidels, or the one Christine calls “the power fragrance” - the pensive, violet scent Dark Saphir. Precisely how much of their marriage is in these fragrances? Niclas laughs: “We live and work together! When you think about the beauty of emotions, we invest all of that into our work. Feelings are a part of everything we do.” Theirs is a passion that bears the most ambrosial fruits.