Vilhelm Parfumerie Ramps Up Expansion

Jennifer Weil
·3 mins read

Vilhelm Parfumerie is in full expansion mode.

The niche fragrance brand launched by Swede Jan Vilhelm Ahlgren in 2015 has just reestablished U.S. distribution, is opening a Paris store and enlarging its range.

A Swiss investment group took a majority stake in the label in November 2018. Ahlgren, who remains a part owner in Vilhelm Parfumerie and its creative director, said: “This really gave me the tools to make the brand grow.”

Vilhelm Parfumerie moved its headquarters from New York to Paris, where it now has 15 employees.

“The group has decided to do everything as much as possible in-house,” said Ahlgren, adding there’s been a big investment in production. New fragrance sizes are coming out, for instance.

Top French suppliers have been tapped, such as Groupe Pochet for glass, he continued.

In September, Vilhelm Parfumerie will introduce a new fragrance, Chicago High, bringing the brand’s count to 23. Each perfume is linked to an imaginary tale. Chicago High was created to evoke the spirit of a party in the Windy City in the Twenties (think “Great Gatsby” style).

Typically, Ahlgren creates fragrances with a traditional structure but overdoses a note.

“For this one, I wanted it to smell more like an old perfume, so I didn’t use that overdose of a single ingredient,” he said, of the scent which has notes of Champagne, tobacco and leather.

Six candles and a body line are on deck for 2021.

Vilhelm Parfumerie, which launched a web shop in January and on Net-a-porter in March, for Europe, expects to open its first freestanding boutique, at 58 Rue Pierre Charron in Paris, in October. The shop will have 400 square feet of selling space on the street level and the same square footage for stock one flight down.

“It’s always a dream when you start a brand to then be able to do a boutique that can really capture all the things you want to communicate. You can really have people enter into the world of Vilhelm Parfumerie,” said Ahlgren, describing it as “an ode to the past and to the new. That difference gives a very nice friction.”

For the shop, Ahlgren envisioned Pierre Cardin boarding a spaceship in the Twenties then flying straight into the future.

Vilhelm Parfumerie debuted in three doors with eight perfumes five years ago. By the end of 2020, it will be in 24 countries.

Europe is today the brand’s largest market.

While Ahlgren would not discuss numbers, industry sources estimate Vilhelm Parfumerie has generated 7 million euros in retail sales since its acquisition, and that the business could double by the end of 2021.

A main focus is on relaunching in the U.S., with the distributor Europerfumes, after exiting the country in 2019. Since July, Vilhelm Parfumerie has entered nine niche retailers there, including The Scent Room, Merz Apothecary and ZGO, and is on saksfifthsvenue.com.

More sales points should be added in the U.S. through the fall, and the brand is launching an e-shop there.

To enter the Middle East Vilhelm Parfumerie partnered with Chalhoub Group for launches in September and October in Harvey Nichols in Riyadh, Qatar and Kuwait; Galeries Lafayette in Dubai, and a pop-up shop in Dubai’s Bloomingdale’s, among other doors.

The brand will be carried in Joyce in Hong Kong and Mecca in Australia, two more new markets alongside the likes of the Baltics, Ukraine and Russia.

Vilhelm Parfumerie’s next store openings could be in London, Milan and Moscow.

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