The brand, named after founder Jan Ahlgren’s grandfather — a man he describes as a Cary Grant-type, just had its first birthday. “You know how some people enter into a room and they just have this charisma and charm? He just had this allure,” he said.
Ahlgren has worked to translate that into his New York-based fragrance brand, which is expected to have about $720,000 in sales for 2016, according to industry sources. In 2015, Vilhelm had just under $400,000 in sales. Vilhelm’s 11 fragrances each retail for $245. Though the business is growing, Ahlgren says he intends to keep distribution tight. Right now, Vilhelm is sold in Barneys New York, Beverly Hills and Chicago, as well as Colette and Liberty in London. “It has been working so well in these accounts, and I feel this company I want to really have time to grow it at the pace I want…take it really step-by-step,” Ahlgren said. Those steps include more fragrances, on which Ahlgren said he’s constantly working. In May, he launched the two new exclusive fragrances.
“For me, Colette is definitely fig,” said Jan Ahlgren, Vilhelm founder. “It’s sort of their signature scent. I wanted to do a fig that was fresh and also had a bit of edge to it.”
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The fragrance features top notes of white coconut water and pomelo, middle notes of wild fig and tobacco flower and a dry down of Tuscan leather and salted sandalwood. “There is coconut water and sandalwood and there is also a bit of leather to give it that edge…and freshness — it’s really about newness there, all the time,” Ahlgren said.
With A Lilac A Day, Ahlgren aims to transport wearers straight into the bloom. He designed the scent inspired by the short period of time in Sweden — where he is from — that the lilacs bloom annually. It’s a smell he associates with his childhood, he said. “I really captured the essence of it,” Ahlgren said. “It’s just like you picked it off the stem…it’s never been done in this way before.”
To create the fragrance, Ahlgren used natural and synthetic ingredients to reproduce different facets of the lilac. The perfume has top notes of blue lilac and spring freesia, middle notes of Egyptian jasmine absolue and galbanum and black amber and Turkish rose absolue base notes.