The first time that Tom Daxon visited Grasse, an area indisputably credited as the fragrance capital of the world, he was four years old. He was visiting the laboratory of Jacques Chabert with his mother – then the creative director of Molton Brown – and it is within these very same laboratories that, over 20 years later, he is now creating the perfumes that bear his own name. Daxon is only 28 years old and yet, having grown up around the beauty industry, tagging along on research trips and handing out mince pies to his mother’s factory staff, he explains that his current career path was “something that always felt possible.” So, while the idea of a man in his 20s owning a fragrance brand that bears his name and encompasses ten different scents (alongside scented candles, shower gels and body lotions) might seem extraordinary, to him it makes perfect sense. However, he wasn’t among the sorts of perfumers who grow up determined to enter the field; as he explains, “like everything else in my life, it only became a serious consideration after I left university.” Thus his decision to found the business in 2013 was remarkably practical – and remarkably fruitful; by the end of that year, he was already stocked in Liberty’s world-renowned fragrance hall.
What Daxon is bringing to the heavily-saturated market is similarly practical: “I didn't do it because I had like a burning anger at the industry and you know, but at the same time I wouldn't have bothered if I thought I couldn't offer something a bit different,” he says. As a young man entering a market that often alienates the new generation of consumers, either through overwrought conceptualism or dated branding, he is perfectly placed to do things a little differently. Additionally, he works without the giant overheads over major perfumery where, “if you launch a big fragrance it is like launching a big blockbuster film,” and doesn’t have to acquiesce to industry norms. “Often the most important thing for a fragrance company seems to be to make sure it doesn’t offend – so, rather than trying to make something really great, they try to make something to please everyone and then that is reflected in the fragrances that just end up dull,” he says. Instead, by embracing clean branding, elegant and refined but distinctly luxurious (think, heavy lids, perfectly-formed bottles and cellophane wrapping hand-sealed by he and his mother), he’s appropriately modern and simply engaging.
Daxon is still collaborating with Jacques Chabert to formulate his scents – when he visits Grasse, he stays with him and his family – and their missive is not to exactly recreate the ingredients that inspire them but rather to evoke them through other means. “You don’t really want a faithful reproduction from a scent,” he explains, “you know, the nicest places I've visited don't smell great.” So, instead of VSOP smelling like a pub, it triggers the smell of cognac with a note; Magnolia Heights contains the sort of delicious, green Gardenia synthetic that suggests rhubarb of the rhubarb and custard variety. It’s clean, but it’s clever; it’s considered, and wearable and never overpowering. You can even buy a sample set of the lot to try-and-test your favourite. There’s almost no excuse not to invest.