This Unisex Fragrance Captures Iceland’s Natural Splendor
A solitary island nation marooned between the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans, Iceland is known for its extraordinary natural phenomena—including glacial lagoons, hot springs, and the transient, striking midnight sun. In an effort to capture the aromatic experience of the nation’s sublime landscapes, Icelandic outerwear company 66° North joined forces with Reykjavík-based perfume and home goods brand Fischersund—co-founded by Jónsi Birgisson, the vocalist of the Icelandic rock band Sigur Rós—to create a unisex fragrance, Útilykt, released earlier this fall.
Composed of indigenous herbs and oils, the perfume has a pure, woodsy bouquet. Birch tar, Siberian fir, and black pepper recall the tree bark and forest floor of the Arctic, while lighter notes of bergamot and vetiver conjure up a cool, icy air. An undertone of seaweed, meanwhile, evokes unearthed vegetation and the smell of the ocean that lingers on one’s skin after time spent outside on the island.
The fragrance was informed in large part by its creators’ own scent-based recollections. “I have so many memories of the Icelandic outdoors,” says Birgisson. “The smell of the crisp cold on your skin and clothes, fresh cut grass, and the brisk sea and snow—it’s a scent that so many Icelanders know by heart, yet it’s hard to explain.” Translating that ephemera into a fragrance, he says, was “an artistic challenge.”
Útilykt’s evocations don’t end with the sense of smell. The project also includes a limited-edition vinyl record that Birgisson created with Sindri Már Sigfússon (who makes music under the name Sin Fang) and composer Kjartan Holm. The team made field recordings at five Icelandic sites chosen by 66° North, then mixed them with original scores, resulting in a timeless, melodic medley that transports listeners to the polar region. With notes both olfactory and musical, Útilykt suggests that if we simply close our eyes, inhale, and listen, a serene, naturalistic respite is well within reach.