Alexander Herdahl-Thorsing on creating his luxurious fragrance brand

Alexander Herdahl-Thorsing interview

Alexander Herdahl-Thorsing, creator and founder of HERDAHL-THORSING. Image supplied.

Alexander Herdahl-Thorsing launched his eponymous fragrance brand in 2018 with a curated collection of luxurious fragrances that are modern and alluring. Alexander has a long-held fascination with fragrance and creating HERDAHL-THORSING was a natural extension of his personal taste and creativity. Based in Wellington, he set about researching fragrances and how to create them back in 2014. He invested four years into research and development forgoing university to pursue his dream of his own fragrance brand. Alexander scoured the globe refining his ideas and purchasing vials of fragrance oils which he utilised in his kitchen back home where he began experimenting with his first few fragrances. Eventually settling on three different fragrances, he then had the final blends refined by a perfumer in New York.

The result is HERDAHL-THORSING’s first exciting range of fragrances called Personal Blend which the founder and creator is immensely proud of. Each fragrance is created in limited qualities by a perfume house in New York with the utmost care and attention to detail. The bottle and packaging design has the crisp, minimalist aesthetic of Alexander’s Scandinavian heritage and it’s appealing campaign imagery rivals that of any international luxury brand. Customers are able to choose from Cream Flower– a velvety floral with tuberose and lilies, Berry Tobacco – a berry infused scent with sandalwood and pipe tobacco, and White Rum – a warm blend of bay rum and lotus flowers. The reception to his first collection has been overwhelming positive and Alexander is currently working on new fragrances with big plans for the future of HERDAHL-THORSING.

The HERDAHL-THORSING online store currently only ships to the US from the New York supplier but NZ orders are available by contacting Alexander through the website’s contact page. The online store will be able to ship to New Zealand soon.

We caught up with Alexander to find out more about his brand, what inspires him and his tips for choosing a fragrance.

Where did your research begin for creating your fragrances and what was the process like?
When it came to researching fragrances, I essentially consumed every guide, watched every video possible. I spent the next six months researching perfumery and purchasing vials of fragrance oils from across the globe. Vanillas and Cederwoods from Thailand. Tonka Bean extracts from the US. Cypress from Italy, Spanish spices and lab grown replacements for now illegal ingredients.

I turned my kitchen into a lab, everything hand labeled and numbered. I kept a diary which was a jumbled mess of percentages, volumetric findings and millimetre by millimetre of trial and error ingredient mixing. Even though my process was not entirely optimal, with many wasted samples, failed attempts and truly hideous smelling formulations, it was important to me, almost to a dangerous degree, how much I needed to create what I perceived to be beautiful. It had to be done from my hands and mine alone so that HERDAHL-THORSING’s fragrances were from my heart in a sense. To create something beautiful by hand, whatever it may be, and for perfumes, that’s an experience to which I felt it was appropriate to name the collection ‘Personal Blend’. After the notes have settled and mixed which may take a few hours or a whole day depending on the notes and the various oils specifically used, then you could test the fragrance! I created three scents which I then had polished with final touches and perfected by a perfumer in New York.

Sourcing the group that would produce the fragrances was a bit tricky as I wanted everything done in the US. Because it also meant less moving parts of the whole process, from production to bottling to fulfilment. It’ll be a courier delivery truck instead of having to send things backwards and forwards between the US and NZ. The group I wanted to produce HERDAHL-THORSING had to be small, had to be empathetic and in many ways understand quality. I didn’t want to partner with a group who would want to churn out millions of bottles. No, I wanted to find someone who understood the boutique and the niche. To which I am blessed that I did find a group. After weeks of research and days of emails and phone calls, we managed in the end.

Alexander Herdahl-Thorsing interview

When did you first discover your love for fragrance?
It was the intimacy of it, really. Smelling someone, the ability to be close enough to breathe them in, is so undeniably intimate. Of course, you can blow out a room with body spray or violate the nose of everyone on the street by abusing a fragrance! But a scent should add to the wearer, become part of who they are as opposed to disguising them under the fragrance. And it’s in those moments when you’re at a dinner party, a person walks past you, just a fleeting second. You catch just the gentlest whiff of them, and it can truly be a pleasant experience, this single moment of your day. Something about that is so romantic to me. Because it’s very primal if you strip away all the pleasantries, it’s just raw attraction, Primal appeal almost, two animals identifying each-other, for the first time, basking in the plume and in each-other, I love that! I genuinely find it quite beautiful. It means that you’re both vulnerable in a sense, and you’re submitting yourself almost. Because wearing a fragrance is sharing your scent and self for another to embrace.

What made you create your own brand?
This is going to sound about as corny as it gets. But I’ve always had this desire and need to delve deep into the world of the arts. Everything from performance, visual and literature, and as an extension to that, beauty and fashion. Ever since I fell in love with traditional art, specifically the Renaissance and Romanticism eras, which I remember was very much like a religious experience, a snap of the fingers, and all the lights came on. HERDAHL-THORSING is very much the journey into that exploration of experiences. Fragrances was a natural first choice in a way because it is the most sensory invigorating and stimulating experience.

Can you share some insight into the philosophy behind your brand?
I’m a lover of traditional art, and that appeals to very different people, much like fragrances, much like all things in fashion. Because I find that’s what art is, it is an expression of one’s lens of beauty. As pretentious as that sounds! But I want to explore that, and this is my pursuit of what I believe to be the most beautiful of experiences. HERDAHL-THORSING is my lens to all these things. My love letter, to be able to embrace these experiences and celebrate them. Currently, it’s in the form of a fragrance, but I would love to extend that to the craftsmanship of couture and bespoke one day. Oh, and shoes! I would love me some shoes. Easily the closest thing to cocaine for me!

How would you describe your personal style, and how does it influence your brand?
I am a complete fanatic for uniformity, an utter die-hard lust-driven lover for uniformity. Everything must match up, and every category must be coordinated in some way. If this is in this section, it must have this label and so on. Personal Blend bottles must be this colour; the next collection bottles must be that colour! I shop much in the same way, and everything must fit in a specific way. I would have to say my cardinal rule for my style is that I like my tailoring classic, my casual contemporary, and my sneakers retro. HERDAHL-THORSING’s core is classic, minimal, elegant, and timeless. We play with the contemporary because that’s art, that’s beauty, these paradigms shift, and change. But represent the same thing. And a dash of retro for flair, because retro is a derivative of times past.

Alexander Herdahl-Thorsing interview

How did you go about creating each fragrance in your range, and how would you describe them?
I named the first fragrance collection the Personal Blend. This was to reflect the kind of fragrances they were, as I mentioned before, about how I believe a fragrance should behave and be used. I wanted these scents to add to you, become a part of you, and enhance your character, complement your very being. As such, it is Personal, a Personal Blend. The entire blend’s collection is unisex because the fragrance is highly subjective, so there is no limitation at all to who can wear them. White Rum is very much a homage to very traditional and classic men’s colognes. Dry, musky spice enriched with a soft floral. Berry Tobacco is divisive, loved, or hated. I describe it to have a body like a thick red wine, with tobacco and some sweetness, a vanilla base. It’s rather addictive to smell, really. I wanted to create, well, something sultry, something sexy, and Berry Tobacco was perfect. Cream Flower is an arrangement of florals that don’t have the heady sting or that ‘green’ note that some florals possess, which I am not a fan. It’s kind of a romantic fragrance with a creamy velvet and amber layer, but it does have a masculine trait to it, which I like. It’s gentle but confident.

How did you come up with that chic packaging?
Thank you, you are far too kind. I am part Scandinavian descent, and I think it might be the Danish in my blood that influences my fondness for what may be seen as elegant design minimalism. HERDAHL-THORSING, my last name, is Danish. I’ve always loved functional minimalism. So I believe it might be from that. When designing the bottle, I actually was inspired by one of my Grandfather’s decanters he had, for whiskey, I believe it was. It was this beautiful square bottle with this generously large bulb of a lid. There was something so elegant about how simple it was. It wasn’t offensive to the eye, it didn’t need validation or attention, but when it was used to pour out drinks. You had to remark on its subtle, attractive nature. It reminded me of a giant chess piece! This is going to sound odd, but the bottle just looked so, certain of itself?

What are your tips for choosing a fragrance?
Be absolutely honest about why you’re getting a fragrance. Do you want something which adds to your palette? Is it for your mood? Is it to attract someone? Do you just want a brand name on the shelf? Do you want to wear what’s popular to fit in? Be absolutely honest with yourself. Nothing is worse than buying a popular fragrance that you feel absolutely nothing for, or even hate, but wear it anyway purely because it’s popular. Nothing is less attractive and confidence breaking than feeling uncomfortable in your own skin, even if you look your best. Because believe it or not, people will be able to see it. Or in this case smell it, they’ll catch a whiff of a mismatched individual, the fragrance says one thing about you, but the rest of you says another. It’s like someone wearing a size too small in something.

How should we care for our fragrances?
Ah! Now, I’ve heard about every method known to man, right down to pure witchcraft at this point. I’m sure everyone’s at least heard of storing a fragrance in the fridge? I’ve heard of some locking a fragrance in an airtight container. Some swear that you should only leave it in the original packaging; otherwise, it’ll go off? In my experience, store your fragrance with its original lid on in a cool, dark, and dry place away from sunlight.

Alexander Herdahl-Thorsing interview

What was the first fragrance you bought? And the first bought for you?
There was this lovely girl years and years ago, a dear friend at the time. Bought me Bleu De Chanel, which I believe was for a birthday present? I genuinely have no idea where she is now, unfortunately. Now, as for what I bought myself is going to pale in comparison. I got myself some Drakkar Noir because it was actually one of my father’s favourites. I fell in love with fragrance the moment I smelled it, naturally I had to have one for myself!

What’s the one fragrance note that you love above all others?
I actually cannot answer this question as much as I thought I could when I created the Personal Blend, which was in 2016, which is now four years ago. Oh my lord, has it already been four years? Wow, the time has flown past, anyway, during the creation of White Rum, Berry Tobacco, and Cream Flower. I actually didn’t like citrus at all, and my favourite notes were musk, variations of amber and woody notes. However, now, I do adore well-balanced citrus and spice fragrance. So my taste has changed quite a bit. But if I were to try, I would say Opium is my favourite. That note has stood the test of time for me.

What inspires you?
A constant and consistent desire to refine, polish, and improve. I’m a tragic judge of myself, as I don’t see myself as complete. I always see something that needs improvement. However, HERDAHL-THORSING is the most complete version of me. It doesn’t take a step wrong, where I might as an example. Though I will have to say, HERDAHL-THORSING influences me more than I influence HERDAHL-THORSING.

What are your goals for the future?
Well, I’m planning on releasing a variation of a current fragrance, make it a bit more mellow, and introducing a new fragrances in the future, as well as potentially moving into candles. In the future I would love to move into fashion and accessories! Quite recently, I’ve had the most amazing opportunity to collaborate with some beautiful individuals to bring together a new campaign. I really want to give them my undying thanks, Zakur Amun -El from ‘tupaczakur’ on Instagram, who was our photographer, breathtaking photography, he really knew how to make love to the perfume bottle with the camera! Undeniably creative! We had a gorgeous song sung by the extremely talented Antonia Marquee and fantastically mastered and produced by Lazer Vale, who has an ear for the most wondrous of sounds. I love collaborating with artists of all varieties! This has been a humbling journey, and we’ve only just gotten started.

This story is brought to you in partnership with HERDAHL-THORSING.

Alexander Herdahl-Thorsing interview

Images supplied.