The Xyrena Story

  • Dallas Ryerson in the 1980s

  • Killian Wells

Xyrena® was born in the heart of music-inspired Austin, Texas in 1988, emerging from the vibrant imagination of unconventional leathersmith, Dallas Ryerson. Ryerson yearned for a fragrance that was sweeter than most men's colognes at the time, yet juxtaposed with the traditionally masculine aroma of his favorite suede. This desire led him to establish an indie fragrance house, with its debut product, Space Cowboy. Despite its underground status, Xyrena quickly drew a devout following among the stars of the era. Names such as Madonna, Michael Jackson, David Bowie, and Cindy Crawford were rumored to have been captivated by Xyrena's distinctive olfactory expressions.

In the early 90s, mainstream fragrance brands discovered Xyrena and began producing cheap knockoffs. Frustrated, Ryerson shifted his focus back to his leather goods. Consequently, Xyrena disappeared into the shadows of the pre-internet age.

Fast forward to 2015, when pop music artist and 90s kid, Killian Wells, stumbled upon a vintage bottle of Space Cowboy in a San Fernando Valley thrift shop. Wells started asking friends in the fashion world about this virtually forgotten brand. Intrigued by its history and a fan of 1980s pop culture, he decided to resurrect the defunct fragrance and fashion house. His quest led him to a small town near Austin where Ryerson had chosen to live off the grid.

In a deal reminiscent of the original ethos of the brand - unconventional and nonconforming - Ryerson, impressed by Wells' vision, sold the rights for Xyrena, including the original formulas, to Wells for a mere dollar, sealed with a handshake. The agreement virtually ensured that Xyrena would always dare to be different, in an effort to disrupt a fragrance industry that had otherwise become complacent and was in dire need of a creative infusion. To retain his privacy, the reclusive Ryerson also requested Wells to refrain from revealing the terms of the deal or discussing the brand's legacy until after his death.

Wells' reborn iteration of the brand shone at the 2016 Pure Beauty Awards in London, nabbing both Best New Brand and Best New Packaging awards. Wells’ inaugural Dark Ride fragrance also caught attention, nominated for an Art & Olfaction award that same year and it is now considered the quintessential scent of theme park water rides like Pirates of the Caribbean, Jurassic Park, and Splash Mountain. By 2018, Wells had been named Hollywood Tastemaker of the Year at the Taste Awards and had won numerous awards for his creative direction, including the commercial for Aaliyah by Xyrena, the official tribute fragrance to the late Princess of R&B. 

Having initially relaunched the brand in Los Angeles, Wells felt that to truly embrace the spirit of Xyrena, it needed to be back in its native Austin where it could help “Keep Austin Weird”. In 2020, Wells relocated the brand to the thriving creative mecca.

Today, Wells is recognized as the 'bad boy' and 'punk perfumer' of the industry. Disruptive and influential, he has been compared to the likes of Damien Hirst by The Telegraph, BBC, and Cosmopolitan. Both Allure magazine and GQ have also sung praises of his creative expressions, describing him as a "mastermind" and a "fragrance wunderkind." Wells’ work has been part of exhibitions at Somerset House in London, Color Factory in Houston and Chicago, Olfactory Art Keller in New York City, and the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Xyrena continues to innovate with a trove of groundbreaking offerings including The Reefer Madness® Collection (the world's first line of strain-specific cannabis-inspired scents), American Psycho (the official scent inspired by the infamous Patrick Bateman character), and Y2K™ (an olfactory noughties time capsule). Just like the brand's legacy that started with Dallas Ryerson, its vast portfolio of intellectual property has been infringed upon by a growing list of both big and small brands. However, Wells proudly cites this as proof that Xyrena is a creative leader in the industry.