photography by SANDRA MYHRBERG
photographer's assistant STEPHANIE CETINA

Agonist: An Invisible Wardrobe

Written by Giovanna Pisacane by Stephanie Cetina

All the fragrances are inspired by our culture, our country; even the climate is a source of inspiration”

Niclas Lydeen considers the perfume line as a storytelling.

Niclas with his partner (and wife) Christine founded Agonist in 2008, a niche Scandinavian perfume brand. 

In just a few years, Agonist has expanded its borders. You can find Niclas and Christine’s fragrances in more than 267 stores, perfume boutiques and interior design stores in Italy, the United Kingdom and in the USA. “Next step: Japan. Many Japanese retailers are interested in our products. Sometimes I think about the moment when all this started. We were interested in raw materials, we were trying to understand patchouli, sandal. We were focusing on different inspirations. You know, when you work in fashion, for example, you have constant visual inspirations. But this is another world. You try to reproduce feelings with smell.”

Niclas takes inspiration from literature, music and poetry. “A Swedish novelist I keep reading is Karin Boye. She has written amazing books and she can really capture certain “Scandinavian” feelings as melancholy, loneliness after a storm, the lights. And I personally love Tomas Tranströmer, who has died recently. With just a few words his writings are able to open up into infinite associations, and his use of metaphors is so inspiring”. 

Both came from a creative background; Niclas and Christine were working for different brands, spending most of their time on creative concepts. “I was working as a visual artist and a product designer, while my wife was working in the fashion industry when we came up with the idea of launching a fragrance brand. I believe that design and fashion are two backgrounds that come together. One of our first ideas was to create an invisible wardrobe. Scents are abstract. What you wear can be considered as an extension of your personality”.

Niclas explained that breaking into the niche perfume market has been a natural process. “We started producing our own ideas by launching expensive, limited-edition design products, presenting them to collectors and receiving international recognition. From this point we decided to go further, finding our way into perfumes. And we shared confidence, education, experience and also useful references from what we did before”.

Today Agonist has a strong identity. Every fragrance is able to dress you.”When you get in contact with Agonist, it's like having the possibility to choose a different dress, a different style, depending on your mood”.

Agonist wants to overthrow the idea that every person should have his/her own fragrance. “People should discover more and play with scents as a natural way of self-expression. We've received loads of positive feedback from people who have always been using the same perfume for years. You know, it is like with food in a way; people shouldn't be afraid to try new things. In the same way, it is so boring to always wear the same smell. Once a customer told me that “Solaris” was the first fragrance  he used after ten years of wearing the same perfume every single day”.

Personalizing perfumes is a trend lately. “We have been asked (but we have never done it.) The closest we have been is creating a fragrance for a brand. This happened last year with the Swedish clothing brand Hope. We produced three candles and one perfume (Hope), inspired by tactile materials, the way they cut the leather, the style of their stores. And the names of the candles were very important for us, because they expressed perfectly the feeling of that moment: “Hope for diversity”, “Hope for freedom” and “Hope for courage”.

A new scent “White lies” came out on the market in November and it is presented with a quote from the Scottish artist and musician Momos: “Every lie creates a parallel world, the world in which it is true.” Niclas describes it as a joyful and playful fragrance that doesn’t reveal itself at first, just like a little lie. It is a smooth sensation that becomes stronger. 

We wanted to create a scent that takes you to another dimension where dreams, stories and fantasies come to life. In the end it keeps its promise and becomes a symbol of truth, yet with some intriguing shades.”

The packaging reveals the fragility but also the power of what you call a lie: a simple clean bottle with a little crack in the middle. You see, the bottle is cracked but it is not broken. At the same time a white lie can't hurt you.”

blazer & tshirt NICOLAI D'ÉTOILES
jeans & rings NICLASOWN
jacket GANNI
trousers & ring CHRISTINE'S OWN
Christine wears
blazer FRAME
dress GANNI
Niclas wears
blazer & tshirt NICOLAI D'ÉTOILES
jeans & ring NICLAS' OWN