Fragrance world: Interview with Perfume Designer Mark Buxton : The Scent Of The Sea

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What is your favourite beach and what is its smell?

I am fond of three specific beaches: one in the Maldives islands, particularly small, where the strong heat and the breeze leave a powerful and dry scent.

We can feel the soft salicylates and milky notes there, combined to the drier amber and woody notes of norlimbanol.

The sand of Deauville’s beach, in contrast, has a more earthy, darker smell, almost animal. Finally, I remember of a more exotic beach in Vietnam with the sea spray’s smell in the morning mingling with the salicylates and salty scent of frangipani.

Salt is used in cooking to enhance flavors. Do the marine notes have the same effect in perfumery?

Yes, marine notes have a unique boosting effect on other accords, especially on woody and floral notes.For instance, ambrocenide, associated with very dry and sharpened cedar notes, is a real enhancer.

Marine notes correspond to sea salt. But what is its scent exactly?

In perfumery, a note fully representing salt does not exist. We rather use accords highlighting the different facets of salt. For instance, salicylate reminds of the hot sand, algue absolute evokes its heavy side, calone translates the iodized and oxide metal taste of the sea and its shells.

The scent of dried seaweed and stagnant water is recalled by maritima, the fresher scent of lily of the valley by helional, while norlimbanol olfactively reproduces the texture and the dry effect of salt.

If sea salt notes were a song, what would it be?

La mer by Charles Trenet, playing at the end of the movie « Mister Bean’s Holidays ». During the whole movie, he’s trying to go to the sea, and starts a journey full of twists. When he finally arrives, the song begins, everyone sings joyfully.

Another memory of sea salt is Smoke on the Water by Deep Purple. I remember listening to it on holidays with my friends, on a summer night at the beach, surrounded by mist under a beautiful starry sky.

What is your favourite note to revive a marine note?

Norlimbanol allows to reproduce the dry and granule texture of salt and revive the iodized facet. It creates a real synaesthesia between touch and smell. Aldehydes, with their cold side, can also enhance the marine notes.

It is said that salt corresponds to the divine. What makes its scent so mystical?

The salt notes are disorienting: it brings holidays, good memories, remote places to mind. They have a mystical scent because they lead to eternity, to non-places, like the sea. The sea has a timeless dimension, but also a sacred strength, called « mana » in Asia.                              

Born in England, he grew up close to Hamburg and fell in love with Paris over 20 years ago.

Mark Buxton is above all a hedonist, wine connoisseur, talented cook, with a passion for antiques, especially for art deco style.

Perfumer-Creator – more than 25 years of experience in the Fine Fragrance Creation – he collaborated with international leading fragrance houses.

He designed for the biggest luxurious brands such as Givenchy, Versace, Van Cleef & Arpels, Paco Rabanne, Lagerfeld, Burberrys, Cartier, Chopard, Ferré…

His daring handwriting was discovered when he created the first Comme des Garçons Fragrance. After, he was quickly recognized in the “Haute Parfumerie” and participated to artistic projects such as MoslBuddjewChirstHinDao, a “Unifaith” fragrance, “Whole lot of non-scents” book by Chandler Burr.

Since Mark has dedicated his talent for the niche perfumery. He has collaborated with several brands such as Riaz Danz Perfumes, Elternhaus, Wiener Blut, Linari perfumes, House of sillage, Zoe Karssen, Brooklyn Soap company, Verdúu perfumes, Folie à plusieurs, Romy Kowalewski 2787 Perfumes Barcelona, Le Labo, Comme des Garçons, Renegades, Thorsten Biehl Kunstwerke and Calé Perfumes. He also created the perfume “L’air de Panache” for the Wes Anderson’s movie “The Grand Budapest Hotel”.

And there is a lot more to come !

In 2010, Mark decided, with enthousiasm and conviction, to invest or take part in new creative projects. He is one of the investors of the Nose shop , a new space dedicated to niche fragrances in Paris, opened in june 2012.

And, he wants to express freely and share, through his brand, his own creative universe.