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Is Sweden’s buzz-worthy fragrance brand 19-69 the next great niche perfumer?

Johan Bergelin may not be a household name, but the Swedish fashion designer/photography may just be the next great niche perfumer. His signature luxe fragrance collection, named 19-69, the year of his birth, sold out in minutes at Paris’ exclusive Collette department store when it debuted in 2017. Almost immediately, retailers around the world including Sephora raced to order his remarkable eau de parfum creations that can only be called works of art.

19-69 founder Johan Bergelin
19-69 founder Johan Bergelin

“It took me a full twenty-four month creative process with artisans in Scandanavia, France and Italy to develop five fine perfumes,” he explains on a Zoom call from Italy where he is researching the highest quality ingredients. “I grew up strongly influenced by the fashion trends that ruled the 80s. It was a new era and included men when it came to experimenting with looks and images. Gender boundaries were pushed and even male rock stars wore makeup. I was mesmerized by the possibility of affecting and changing a person’s appearance. Then as now, it was clear to me that beauty is a form of art.” From day one, it was clear to Bergelin that each of his fragrances would be genderless.

19-69 fragrances
19-69 fragrances

To say that Johan is inspired by the year 1969 would be a vast understatement. He will talk enthusiastically of the era of freedom, tolerance and counterculture. His rapid-fire conversation is peppered with references to John Lennon, Yoko Ono, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie and cannibas. Johan really, really likes cannibas – an ingredient that he has incorporated into several of his fragrances.

Stockholm, Sweden
Stockholm, Sweden

“Each scent is inspired by a different era, culture or setting from Africa, Europe, the United States or Asia. Art, music, trends and cultures have all left their marks on the fragrances both in terms of content, name and packaging.” Each glass bottle is varnished and screen-printed in Italy. All raw ingredients are handpicked to ensure the finest quality taking you on a scent journey. One of Bergelin’s closest friends is Ben Gorham, founder of the wildly successful fragrance brand Byredo so it is likely he has learned from one of the best in the industry. And one of 19-69’s investors was one of the early investors in Ikea. Clearly, this is a brand that is on the rise.

19-69 Purple Haze
19-69 Purple Haze

If you are new to 19-69 as most of us are, it is best to start with Purple Haze. Embracing the hippie movement and counterculture, this fragrance was inspired in particular by John and Yoko’s bed-ins in Amsterdam and Montreal.

19-69 Purple Haze
19-69 Purple Haze

“Purple Haze is about the legendary Keenak who I met in Bahama Village, Key West. Guitar on his back, snake skin boots, skinny jeans and long hair. A sense of Woodstock. It is a tribute to creativity, freedom and indulgence,” says the artist.

19-69 Purple Haze
19-69 Purple Haze

This deep powerful and carefully layer fragrance begins with top notes of Italian bergamot, Corsican Cypress, Cannabis accord, Ravensara and ciste. These ingredients are carefully balanced with palmarosa, thyme, gurjam and violet leaf, which has a fresh green aroma. The drydown contains vanilla, patchouli, black pepper, white musk and dry woods. It’s rich, complex, indulgent and totally decadent. This is perfumery of the highest calibre. As the scent unfolds on your skin you get new nuances and notes that surprise and delight. It’s a very complex composition.

19-69 Capri
19-69 Capri

On the other end of the fragrance spectrum is Capri, a fresh, light and comforting fragrance that blends sweet and bitter orange, ylang ylang oil and white musk. Inspired by the 1963 film “Le Mepris”, filmed on the Isle of Capri, this scent has an expansive cinematic quality. “I have always been captivated by legendary, trendsetting films. The movie Le Mepris featuring Brigette Bardot and Jack Palance is both iconic and stylish. The film incorporates W scheme of red (tolerance, love), blue (coldness) and white (neutral) referring to the national flags of France and the USA and is evocative of the thematic elements of the narrative.”

19-69 Capri
19-69 Capri

To express this film in an olfactory manner, Johan blends notes of mandora, bitter orange, sweet orange, chamomile, cardamom, pink pepper, Sichuan pepper, juniper berry, mandarine oil, mandarin leaf, galbanum, jasmine alcoolat, Osmanthus alcoolat, ylang ylang extract oil, orris, ambroxan, angelica seeds and white musk. Again, each note is carefully balanced with a light hand. The result is uplifting and fresh.

19-69 fragrances
19-69 fragrances

19-69 will be available in Canada at select Hudson’s Bay stores, thebay.com and holtrenfrew.com

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10 Comments

  • Reply
    Brenda Cremer
    September 18, 2021 at 11:44 pm

    This brand is really intriguing, I’m very excited to explore it.

  • Reply
    Velma Sandry
    September 15, 2021 at 4:52 pm

    Everything about this story is beautiful. The dedication demonstrated is brilliant and I’m so curious. Producing only 5 scents is very intriguing and sounds deliciously exclusive.

  • Reply
    Cynthia Sacks
    September 15, 2021 at 1:28 pm

    WOW! Interesting story behind the scenes for these fragrances. They would be fun to try — esp because I LIVED the ’60s and ’70s! @cindy_sacks

  • Reply
    September Dee
    September 15, 2021 at 12:09 pm

    This brand sounds so interesting. I’m looking forward to trying some fragrances,

  • Reply
    Julie
    September 15, 2021 at 12:08 pm

    Can’t wait to try this.

  • Reply
    daniela sborlini
    September 15, 2021 at 10:24 am

    really cool article, really interested to see how popular this will be sounds amazing.

  • Reply
    Angela Citrigno
    September 15, 2021 at 9:49 am

    I love a good back ground story. I’m hoping my Hudson Bay will have this collection. The fragrance Capri would be the first one I’d try. I love that Purple Haze’s bottle has a purple base. I’d love to see this collection sold in minis, so I could owning them all.

  • Reply
    LInda L
    September 15, 2021 at 9:11 am

    Love a fragrance with such an interesting background. Can’t wait to spritz it!

  • Reply
    Anna Roszak Robinson
    September 15, 2021 at 8:58 am

    Sounds amazing!

  • Reply
    Sherri Gelbart
    September 13, 2021 at 3:59 pm

    This is intriguing. I have to admit though, I would really love if there were some type of a discovery set available because the fragrances don’t seem to be the type that would be easy to blind buy. Also, it would be nice to be able to afford to discover them all!

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