Launching a perfume company at any time takes balls. Launching a perfume company in 2020, in the midst of the Covid pandemic, takes balls of steel. And dollops of optimism and a strongly defined vision. All of which Anselm Skogstad of Der Duft seems to have in abundance.
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In the two years since its launch, the company of the visual artist / photojournalist-turned-perfume entrepreneur has made an impact with its minimalist approach to perfumery.
Apart from the distinctive compositions, we love that they’re not accompanied by any self-indulgent, convoluted stories. Smell and decide for yourself.
We chatted to Anselm Skogstad about his background, the Der Duft difference and the brand’s latest release.
Why did you decide to launch your own fragrance company?
I envisioned a fragrance company where the unique quality of perfumes, the style and aesthetic transcend time.
The collection invites people to feel inspired by the scents and names of each perfume. I purposely chose to stay away from adding any additional stories or explanations.
I was aware of my fascination in collaborating with perfumers. It became clear that my brand would have to include both my own creations and perfumes created by selected perfumers I admire.
I strive for Der Duft to become a representation of a carefully selected collection of perfumes of outstanding quality. The concept is very clean and minimalist, which is also reflected visually in the product design.
My approach to enjoying perfumes comes from an intuitive emotional state rather than a technical one. It is about the artistry of the perfumers’ work and the perfumers themselves.
How long was the launch in the making? And how did the Covid situation affect it?
I was brainstorming the idea since 2018, simply calling the brand Der Duft (German for “The Scent”).
Covid certainly affected the launch, as it created uncertainty and fear worldwide. Retail had to close their doors and high-end perfumes were less of a priority to people. Understandably so!
What’s your background and has perfume always played a big part in your life?
My love for perfumes started when I was a child and enjoyed smelling fragrances while admiring the fancy packaging and advertising.
For many years this passion did not play a big role in my life. Instead, I focused on my career as a visual artist and photojournalist (anselmskogstad.com).
The inspiration and motivation to change my career focus also needs to be credited to a dear friend of mine, a perfume expert based in Hong Kong. I am forever thankful to have found my love for perfumes again, this immensely beautiful and powerful art form.
You’re also a perfumer and created Der Duft Monopteros and Der Duft Grasse. In what ways was your time at the Grasse Institute of Perfumery a valuable experience? Did you have to learn the essentials of running a business yourself?
Yes and no. Yes, in the sense that I did bring in some basic knowledge. No, in the sense that I believe in delegation and working with people who are experts at given tasks.
My time there did not equip me to run my own company, but that was also not the motivation to study at the institute. The goal was to gain a better understanding of where I could see myself within the perfume industry as a whole.
How do you approach the creation of a fragrance with your perfumers?
Each perfumer should feel free in their creation process, so I give little to no direction or guidance. In fact, I am thrilled if the perfumer surprises me.
The goal is also to understand and respect their olfactive language and talent. Although I make the final choice which of the perfumer’s proposed creation is selected for Der Duft, the actual working process itself remains their own.
Finding a suitable name for each perfume is a distinctly exciting part of the creation process. This goes hand in hand while creating, perfecting and discovering the best new creation together with a perfumer.
Has Der Duft found its space in an increasingly saturated niche market?
In recent months, we have got positive feedback from the community and are thrilled about that.
Also, considering we were approached to participate in this interview allows us to believe that yes, we found our own niche within the increasingly saturated niche market.
You have an art section on your website where you display the photography and reviews of Instagram perfume bloggers of Der Duft fragrances. Such a clever idea and great marketing too. Tell us more about it.
Giving reviewers, bloggers and other selected individuals a voice and acknowledgement goes hand in hand with our approach of highlighting people and their craft.
Presented art results in an exciting mix of visuals, all telling a story and interpretation of the scent, perfume name or both combined.
Again, we do not want to tell our audience what to think and what to like. For the community to present Der Duft creatively is truly a compliment which we gratefully wish to share.
You’ve just launched Der Duft Canvas. Why should we look out for this new release?
It’s our first collaboration with perfumer Freddie Albrighton. The journey of working with Freddie on this creation has been nothing but a joyful ride.
He is a true talent and someone who brought together emotions and technicality in creating and perfecting Canvas so beautifully. A talent for which any young and aspiring perfumer would admire him. Besides his cravings for perfection, of course.
Will you be launching another fragrance this year, as per a strict launch schedule, or do you prefer something more informal?
Yes, we are planning to launch another fragrance, although we do not hold onto a strict launch schedule.
The perfumer for this creation is Nathalie Feisthauer [Etat Libre d’Orange Putain des Palaces EDP, Hermès Eau de Merveilles EDP, Amouage Honour Man EDP]. I shall say no more!
Where is Der Duft stocked in the United States?
3 Der Duft Fragrances To Try Now
It’s always intriguing to see how one of our favourite tipples is translated olfactively.
This 2020 Alexandre Illan creation opens with a distinctive and slightly fruity take on champagne. It already feels like a glass of the best.
It’s infused with a liberal dose of cassis, its green sharpness balanced by a note of fruity rose. There’s also a hint of slightly spicy chamomile in the mix.
A clean combo of white musk and ambrette meets sandalwood in the drydown. The pear-ish characteristics of the ambrette and the creaminess of the sandalwood perfectly complement the intro and give the composition complex continuity.
Brand founder Anselm Skogstad shows his perfume skills with this 2020 release.
There’s also an undertow of coffee and spice (nutmeg, cardamom), while neroli keeps it light and sunny.
Optimistic, uplifting stuff.
The German niche brand continues its run of unusual fragrances with Der Duft Match, which was released in 2021.
Notes of ginger and grapefruit give this Anne-Sophie Behaghel creation an initial fresh zing. The hot spice of black pepper brings a deft contrast.
There’s plenty of dry woodiness to go around, including cedar, the synthetic sandalwood Karmawood and vetiver.
Iris brings on the powder but not in a typical way. It’s almost waxy, absolutely enchanting, while Ambroxan finishes the EDP with musky nuances.