Luxury fashion

Artist And Perfumer Johan Bergelin On The Counterculture Stories Behind 19-69 Fragrances

Only a handful of brands find their way into the cult fragrance space. Its audience is characteristically ultra-niche, discriminating without apology, but radically faithful. Such is the case for followers of 19-69, a luxury cult fragrance brand founded by Swedish artist and perfumer Johan Bergelin. It was in 2015 when he decided to build a label with wife and co-founder, Catharina. They agreed that the brand would embody an era of freedom, tolerance, and counterculture. The name 19-69 was chosen without apprehension as it encapsulated the very same values of the era. Johan adds,”It is also the year I was born and my way of putting my heart on the sleeve and say, ‘This is real. This is who I am.’”

The company’s first office and workshop, discloses Johan, was the kitchen table at home. “We started the business with only 500. We had no sales or marketing team then.” After two years of research and product development, the brand finally introduced its first five fragrances at Paris’ Colette. Cult fragrance aficionados were quick to pick up on Bergelin’s unique and provocative approach to perfume-making. Some even write that when 19-69 first hit the shelves, it “sold out within minutes.”

The mystery and rich narrative behind the brand’s fragrances were reasons to get familiar with 19-69. “We had a clear idea of our vision,” affirms Johan. “We worked on narratives that were real to us.” As a wide traveler, this meant telling stories of various places through scents. It also entailed challenging the status-quo, and pushing the boundaries of perfume making. “It’s like when you travel for food. To fully enjoy the experience you eat Michelin restaurants, but you also must explore the street food flavors.”

19-69 Female Christ: A Social Commentary On Gender Roles and Consumerism

I was immediately intrigued by label’s first scent, a powerful and impactful, Female Christ. Johan intimates, “We knew that it would upset some people. I was honestly frightened in the beginning. However, it was important for us to explore other purposes for perfume apart from it being a luxury product.” Inspired by Danish artists Bjorn Norgaard and Lene Adler Petersen’s Female Christ performance manifestation at the Royal Stock Exchange in Copenhagen (May 29, 1969), the fragrance relives the powerful impact of art when it speaks truth. “There is really nothing quite like it,” comments Johan.

To convey cold and nakedness, the perfumer used eucalyptus and patchouli. He clarifies, “Patchouli is also very much symbolic of the era, which is why I like to use it in many of my fragrances.” He also interpreted the venue as an imposing structure of stone and wood. To do this, he infused the fragrance with woody notes like rhubarb, thyme, and cinnamon bark. Amber and cashmere were also layered to create a unique fragrance that, as Johan describes, is “Extreme in volume, and enveloping the wearer.”

There are now a total of 17 fragrances under 19-69, all of which are distinctive, enchanting, and multi-layered. Within the product range, I find it impossible to single out just one favorite. Admittedly, however, Female Christ, by virtue of name and unique attributes immediately stands out. In my neophyte cult follower mind, there is a 19-69 fragrance to suit every mood and occasion. They take the wearer to different idyllic locations now on my bucket list. These scents have also transported me through some of the most exciting eras of counterculture.

Top Notes: Eucalyptus, Patchouli, Pimento

Middle Notes: Rhubarb, Wintergreen, Red Thyme, Geranium

Base Notes: Vanilla, Amber, Benzoin, Cinnamon Bark, Cashmere Wood

19-69 Villa Nellcôte: The Storied Home Of The Rolling Stones

During Johan’s first few trips to the French Riviera, he chanced upon an extraordinary house where rock and roll history unfolded. Now also known as the “temple of rock,” Villa Nellcôte looked a lot like a smaller version of Versailles. Built in 1899, it was occupied by Nazi Gestapo and was later abandoned for decades only to be surrounded by sinister tales.

Johan details, “Locals considered it as haunted until the Rolling Stones moved into the mansion in 1971. The hippies must have cleansed that place with their energy.” When he began creating the scent as an homage to the “villa of debauchery,” the perfumer began imagining what the 16-bedroom mansion must have smelled like when Keith Richards and other icons of that era were dwellers. For Johan, it was: “Easy with a lot of floral notes, but very unique with spice and zest.”

Top Notes: Grapefruit, bergamot, petitgrain, pink pepper, elemi, lemon, lemon flower

Mid Notes: Violet leaf, rose petals, jasmine, magnolia flower, osmanthus, black tea infusion

Base: Cabreuva, cedarwood, patchouli, white amber, must, moss, guaiac wood

19-69 Kasbah: Memories of Jimi Hendrix in Morocco

Johan spent a significant amount of his time in Morocco where bohemia and hedonism find roots in the trails blazed by Jimi Hendrix and Cat Stevens. From the 50s all through the 70s, wanderers flocked to Marrakesh and its nearby towns to immerse in the Moroccan lifestyle. It’s been written that in Essaouira and Diabet, hippie pilgrims of the time even hung out with Hendrix himself.

Spread throughout most of Morocco are age-old kasbahs or fortresses. This inspired Johan to create a “warm and cocooning scent” in Kasbah. The 19-69 founder was also intrigued by the adventures of Talitha, Paul Getty, Paul Bowles, Veruschka, and Yves Saint Laurent—all of whom found a home–or kasbah–in Marrakech. “I’m intrigued by how they were enticed by the kingdom’s energy and used it for influences and escapes: clothes, colors, music, interior, and drugs,” says Johan.

He immediately gravitated towards honey. “It is used as a comforting elixir in Morocco,” he explains. “Then I thought about breakfast in this mysterious place. Pancakes are always topped with honey, and accompanied by fresh orange juice.” To convey time and the passing of years, Johan fused Kasbah with leather accord. Base notes of vanilla, and tonka bean, meanwhile, add to the feeling of being protected and nurtured. “It’s a fragrance that makes you want to cuddle up and take it slow.”

Top Notes: Sweet Orange, ripe lime, white honey

Middle Notes: Geranium, amber, patchouli

Base: Vanilla, tonka beans, guaiac wood, leather accord, sandalwood

19-69 Capri: On The Set Of 1963’s New Wave Drama, Le Mepris

The 1963 Jean-Luc Godard film, Le Mepris, was filmed in Capri’s stunning Villa Malaparte. The decidently Eurocentric film starring Brigitte Bardot and Michel Piccoli is an honest, raw, unfilterd portrayal of heartbreak. In the context of film history and commentary, Godard’s style is regarded by some as a mockery of mainstream Hollywood.

Built as a lonely writer’s abode that looks out into the cerulean gulf, Villa Malaparte is surrounded by fragrant gardens. In creating Capri, Johan recalled the scent of flowers from the villa’s gardes. He adds, “I also wanted to capture the mystery of this villa, as if a secret relationship blossomed there.” Referencing the lead role that colors played in Le Mepris, the perfumer and artist also sought to interpret these hues—yellow, red, blue—through fragrances. Like the contemporary house perched on a cliff, 19-69’s Capri was conceived as a “light, energizing fragrance–with edge.” Johan describes, “On first impression, you will recall the zest from peeling an orange. Pink peppers give Capri the spice and edge. To balance this out, I added white musk and ylang-ylang.”

Top Notes: Mandora, bitter orange, sweet orange, chamomile, cardamon, pink pepper, sichuan pepper, juniper berries, mandarine oil and leaves oil

Middle Notes: Galbanum, jasmine alcoolat, osmanthus alcoolat, ylang ylang extract

Base: Orris, ambroxan, angelica seeds, white musk

19-69 La Habana: A Sailor’s Cuban Adventures

Johan relays that La Habana is a fragrance narrative that’s “part experienced, part told.” His uncle was a sailor who used to regale him with stories of his Cuban adventures. “This was something I was eager to experience.” When Johan and his wife spent some time in the Key West, they took the opportunity to finally explore the sultry West Indies country.

There was no question in Johan’s mind that La Habana would represent all the wonderful things that Cuba is known for–cigars, warm climate and rum. He adds that in the mid 1900s, Havana was regarded as the playground for mafia and wealthy elite. “It (also) hosted many vibrant music venues like the Tropicana and Buena Vista Social Club.” To capture this vibrant quality and energy, he topped the fragrance with saffron. Incense and elemi at the middle created a smoky heart. And finally at the base, a sweet and intoxicating symphony of vanilla, caramel and oud.

Top Notes: Saffron, aldehyde

Middle Notes: Incense resinoid

Base: Vanilla Absolute, caramel, ambroxan, laotian Oud, golden Stone, amber, balsam resinoid

When 19-69’s Johan Bergelin set out to create perfume, he taught to reshape how luxury fragrances are experienced. He did this by infusing social commentary and unique counterculture narratives into each and every scent from his workshop. Through his brand, he has inspired others to see the world in a new light–through the vibrant colors of Carpi; enveloped in Cuba’s smoke, swagger, and sun; in the company of Villa Nellcote’s rockstar ghosts; and sometimes, even while on a lonely roadtrip along the Morocco’s hippie trail.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.