In conversation with Agonist Parfums


Agonist is a Swedish perfume house founded in 2008, and the brand’s immersive world has created a cult following around it. We talked to the founder Niclas & Christine Lydeen about what Agonist is about, why all their perfumes are unisex and why they want you to let go of the idea of a signature scent.

Hi Niclas and Christine! If you were to explain it to a rookie, what would you say Agonist is about?
AGONIST is about scent as abstract art and experiences of beauty. We are building the experiences in an uncompromising way through the way the compositions are made, the raw materials we use, the design of the bottles, the imagery, inspiration and stories. Everything is tied together and invites anybody to take part and discover scent as an escape into memories, fantasies and inspiration.

Making fragrances is a long and hard process, from branding to the actual products. How did you start, was the idea clear to you from the beginning?
Yes, our vision was quite clear from the beginning. We wanted to make something that really emphasised our vision of Scandinavian beauty through scent. Christine has french roots and we wanted to combine the traditional art of French perfumery with the world renowned craft of Swedish art glass. In 2008 we launched our first product. A limited edition perfume  named KALLOCAIN from the novel by Karin Boye. The bottle was hand blown in collaboration with KOSTA BODA


Sweden, and the Nordic landscape obviously plays a big role in the Agonist scents. What would you hope that the Agonist perfumes capture?
A dream of Scandinavian beauty in nature and culture.

All Agonist perfumes are unisex – as you say, there really isn’t a need to define a scent’s gender. Was this an idea you were drawn to from the beginning?
Yes definitely. We believe that the sense of smell goes beyond gender and is individual. Perfume of this quality becomes much more individual and there are no need for boundaries.

You just released a new fragrance, Say Yes. What’s the story behind that one?
Smell has a very strong impact on the way we feel. We wanted to create a scent that inspires people to Say Yes to life, love and happiness. The world needs more hope, courage and love. So SAY YES triggers a positive and brave mind set.

You also describe the base notes of Oud, Amber and Sandalwood in it as “confident” ones. Do you wear “deeper” perfumes when you want to feel more confident?
It’s of course very individual, but deeper notes like leather and woods often reminds us of more calm and secure emotional states.

What's your relationship to smells, what's your earliest scent memory?
I remember the smell of when you sharpened pencils as a kid. (Niclas)
My strongest scent memory was my grandmothers greenhouse when I was growing up. (Christine)

You say that scent is a silent language, and it’s the name of your scented book. I love this idea! Please elaborate on what it means to you.
Scent has a direct connection to the part of the brain where emotions live. Scent tells you something, good or bad. It is like a silent language that you can master by paying attention to your own sense of smell and what it tells you. It whispers beautiful stories and can even make you travel in time and across borders.

Are there any specific art forms / pieces that you feel are very “fragrant” to you? For me, a song is really good when I can smell it.
Literature, music and abstract painting are strong sources of inspiration for us.

I have understood that moods play a big part in Agonist’s world, and you said somewhere that the idea of signature scents is not that appealing to you. Why is that?
The Agonist collection is built like an invisible wardrobe. We believe in having different scents for different modes and occasions just like you change clothes and style for the same reasons. So let go of you signature scent and discover the power of variation and how scent can add character to your style, identity and enhance your self esteem.

What perfume are you wearing right now?
Dark Saphir (Niclas)
Say Yes (Christine)

What's the worst smell ever to you?
Wow, so many. 

What does your life smell like?
Ocean, salt, flowers, greenhouse, food, travel and fresh Scandinavian winds.( we live on an island on the west coast of Sweden where we grow plants and greens in our green house and when we are not there we travel the world.

What scent do you dream of capturing in your perfumes?
A scent that makes every human feel connected to each other on a deep level. A scent that cuts through all layers of individuality and hits the core of just being alive and safe.

Discover more from the brand on their website and Instagram.
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Helsinki Perfume Society