Fragrances by Mark Buxton

It all began with a bet. Mark Buxton was born in England and raised in Germany with ambitions to be in the fashion design industry. One night, six or seven weeks before Christmas of his first year in university, he and his friend stopped by a perfume store. Looking at the many bottles and sampling a few scents, his friend suddenly suggested calling a live television show called "Wetten, dass…?" meaning "Want to bet that…?" They bet that they could recognize all the perfumes in the world. They were told, "You're on the next program."

Buxton and his friend had five weeks to scramble together samples and memorize some 600 fragrances. Buxton took the masculine while his friend took the feminine lines. It was then that Buxton began to realize he could recognize and differentiate the scents with relative ease. He had no prior knowledge of perfumes and so created new 'families' in his head, categorizing similar scent groups. On the day of the show, Buxton successfully identified his fragrances but his friend, drawing a blank before the live audience and bright lights, could not, and they lost the bet.

Several weeks later, however, Buxton got a call from a company called Haarmann & Reimer, a large perfume manufacturer based in Holzminden. They had seen his performance on the show and invited him to be the fourth member of the internal perfume school they held. He visited the company, did several tests and was approved right away. What started as a fun bet quickly transformed into the beginning of a life-long career.

For the next 27 years, Buxton worked at Haarman & Reimer, which eventually became Symrise, still a major fragrance manufacturer to this day. Becoming disillusioned with the changing politics of the big industries and the repetitive nature of mainstream perfumery, however, when the opportunity arose to leave, his bags were packed.

Though his name remained obscured to much of the public, Buxton left a large legacy in the world of commercial perfumes. He was the master Nose behind many well known designer brand perfumes including Givenchy, Versace, Burberrys, Chopard, Cartier, Jil Sander, Salvador Dali, Van Cleef and Arpels, and Comme des Garçons. Those in the profession acknowledge him as one of the most talented and prolific perfumers in the world today.     

Since starting his own brand, Buxton's name has become more widespread but his fragrances remain niche. It allows him to work creatively and innovatively, something that was largely inhibited by the demands of popular market brands. Buxton's perfumes are not "safe" by any means – they surprise and seduce; they begin with an immediate statement like a bang – yet they are not controlling. Buxton's scents are known for their short formulas and compact list of ingredients. He believes simplicity is the key to ultimate luxury. Where a regular fragrance may have up to 60 different scents, Buxton keeps his to 15, give or take. He allows each wearer to fill in the gaps, to let their imaginations roam and interact freely with the notes. As Buxton puts it, his fragrances are reminiscent of a free jazz trio or quartet as opposed to a full-blown orchestra.

All of Buxton's fragrances stem from memorable moments in his life. A fleeting encounter at a nightclub gave birth to Black Angel; a mysterious and elusive scent on an Italian terasse inspired Devil in Disguise; and an attempt to conceptualize the intangible yet vivid essence of dreams produced Sleeping with Ghosts. A cooking enthusiast, nurtured from his childhood growing up with his parents owning a restaurant, Buxton also enjoys incorporating the scent of herbs and spices into his fragrances. Visually, he has a passion for antiques – being a collector of vintage watches and wooden propellers – and the Art Deco style, after which his perfume bottles are designed.