The conspiracies of Andreas Wilhelm — a conversation

Andreas Wilhelm is not an unknown name in the industry. After many years in the fragrance industry, he is now an independent perfumer with his Zurich-based company Wilhelm Perfume. His brand PERFUME.SUCKS has already been a topic here in the Duft-Tagebuch. Now the Conspiracy Collection has also arrived at Aus Liebe zum Duft, a good reason to have a funny and not always entirely serious conversation.

Portrait Andreas Wilhelm

Andreas, would you like to tell us more about the idea behind the PERFUME.SUCKS brand?

The idea was born when I was working in the industry as a perfumer. I created fragrances for various brands and realized that often raw materials are advertised in the fragrance description that are expensive but not really in the recipe. The story behind the fragrances became more and more important than the content itself, and as a perfumer I got annoyed at some point. So I decided to go for full transparency and henceforth run my own line as PERFUME.SUCKS with my lost attempts. The Color series was born and is still the only perfume line that has the entire recipe on the bottle. Unfortunately, my B2B customers didn’t find it so funny at first, so I launched a sweet to give the word “sucks” a new twist and invited my customers with the words: let’s suck together.

You are very transparent about the ingredients in your perfumes. Aren’t you worried that they will be copied and stolen?

That happens in the industry anyway. I doubt whether Initio – Oud for Happiness smells like our GREEN 368C because of the recipe printed on it. Within a few hours, everything can be copied using instrumental analysis anyway.

So the law of the jungle prevails here?

According to the law, a perfume formulation or fragrance cannot be protected. This has to do with the fact that there is no uniform perception and, for example, bergamot oil can be replaced with lemon oil and linalyl acetate. The recipe is then different, but the fragrance is only marginally different. Only if the molecule is defined (cis-3-hexenol, freshly cut grass) and the odor is globally classified as the same in normal test subjects can such an odor be patented (see also Belle Haleine – der Duft der Kunst, page 47ff ‘Schutzmöglichkeiten von Gerüchen und Düften – Sebastian Rengshausen’ ISBN 978-3-86828-673-1). Generally speaking, products in the perfume industry are always somehow inspired by each other and thus continue to develop. A good example would be Angel by Thierry Mugler and Chanel’s Coco Mme, which was inspired by it.

What inspired you to create the Conspiracy Line? Are you yourself a supporter of such theories and do you iron your tin foil hat in the morning?

Funnily enough, the Conspiracy line is the implementation of feedback from retail in recent years. I have always been told that customers do not perceive the line to be of high quality. On the one hand because of the relatively modest price (98 € for 50 ml) and on the other hand because I don’t have any stories to tell. But since I’m a perfumer and a storyteller, I didn’t mess around and that’s how the new line came about. But after 7 years of telling people that stories were shit, it sounded a bit like a conspiracy and that’s how the name came about. And since people smell with their wallets rather than their noses, there has been no negative feedback on the prices of the new line and everyone is happy.

How do the fragrances in the previous line differ from the Conspiracy Line?

Do you know Fight Club? The first rule is: we don’t talk about Fight Club. It’s the same with the Conspiracy line, if you’re not part of the circle, then I have to keep quiet.

What is your aim with the three previous fragrances FLASH 0021, WEALTH 4181 and FUEL 0987? Are you a do-gooder?

I thought to myself, if you’re going to tell stories, then tell them properly. Whether these are all conspiracies or not, I leave to the users. But I think humor helps in these times and yes, I always try to make my world a little better, whether it’s smiling on the streetcar or cycling to the lab more often. I don’t want to judge, it’s not my place, but I think I’ve struck a chord with the first three fragrances in the line. Drugs, wealth inequality and the climate crisis are real problems in this world.

The ingredients are structured according to the golden ratio or Fibonacci numbers. How can we imagine this in concrete terms?

The raw materials in the recipe, calculated to 1000 g, consist only of Fibonacci numbers.
1 g, 2 g, 3 g, 5 g, 8 g, 13 g, 21 g, 34 g, 55 g, 89 g, 144 g, 233 g following the numerical sequence. That was technically quite a challenge. The spray head sprays 0.13 ml per shot, which means you can spray 233 times, the speed of the drill for the lids is 4181 revolutions per minute, and so on. The figures can be found everywhere, even in the price of 144 €.

Interesting, but why? Do you think this is how you discover the golden ratio of perfumery? Do you notice any particular results?

Funnily enough, mini blends also harmonize much better when you use these sequences of numbers and the fragrances created in this way simply smell a little more natural and harmonious. Since this discovery, I have already created other fragrances for third parties based on these ratios, but of course I don’t want to talk about that, Fight Club and all that …

There will soon be two new fragrances in the Conspiracy Line, which we were kind enough to introduce here in the Duft-Tagebuch this week, thank you once again. What other plans do you have, what can you reveal?

Yes, this year I will be launching another fragrance for the Collaboration Series, this time with a graffiti crew, friends of mine, from Zurich. But more on this in the summer. The Conspiracy Line will also grow towards the end of 2024/beginning of 2025. I’ve been working on FAITH0013 for a while now, which will become That way, everyone is pissed off.
In general, I’m going to make a foray into body care this year and I’m already working on products like solid shower gels and such, à la, but whether that will be ready in summer I can’t say 100% at the moment. Last but not least, a scented candle will be launched in the fall, which will help us Swiss against the annoying smells of cheese fondue and raclette. An odor-destroying scented candle, to be more precise. What’s more, even in 2024 I’m still not quite sure whether PERFUME.SUCKS should really be a brand or more of an art project.

Thank you very much for taking the time for this interview.

Tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, the Duft-Tagebuch will be all about PERFUME.SUCKS. I will be presenting the three previous fragrances and, as a highlight on Friday, the two new ones.

Recent Comments

Harmen Biró Written by:

Hello, my name is Harmen, I was thirty-something until recently and I always have my nose to the wind to find fragrance treasures for you and present them here. I myself prefer fine leather fragrances or spice compositions, but I don't want to be tied down. Why should I? There are always so many new things to discover in the world of fragrances. → BIRÓ

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