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Mark Buxton Crafts Scents to Capture an Experience

Perfumer Mark Buxton, who launched his own line of scents in Russia six months ago, is expanding the collection to multiple European markets this month.

BERLIN — Perfumer Mark Buxton, who launched his own line of scents, called By Mark Buxton, in Russia six months ago, is expanding the collection to multiple European markets this month.

The creator of surreal scents for diverse brands like Comme des Garçons and Karl Lagerfeld to Oriflame and Salvador Dali based his eponymous line on scents he said he’s experienced.

“They’re kind of mood fragrances — impressions really that I’ve had,” he said. “Actually, everywhere I go, or if there’s a moment in my life that really touches me or hits me, or thrills me — I try to capture it in a perfume or an odor — like a kind of a scrapbook, I write down ideas and smells, odors.”

The line was started by United Europe, owner of Ile de Beauté, the Russian cosmetics and perfumery chain, after a 2007 presentation from Buxton and other Symrise perfumers. Buxton had brought a few of his sketchbook scents along, which were a big hit with United Europe head Igor Denisov.

“I showed them eight perfumes [and] they took seven. They said, ‘Can we keep them and follow them, perhaps we have an idea,’” remembered Buxton. Soon, Denisov proposed launching the line under Buxton’s name, using his private blends. A fragrant partnership was born.

The seven scents are: Black Angel (bergamot, nutmeg, patchouli); English Breakfast (ginger, calendula, labdanum); Sounds and Visions (mandarin, rose, sandalwood); Nameless (orange flower, coffee, amber); Around Midnight (pepper, jasmine, styrax); Hot Leather (citrus, orris, vanilla), and Wood & Absinth (citrus, rosewood, vetiver). Many are snapshots of places, like the Moulin Rouge, or a waterside table at Italy’s Lake Como.

The By Mark Buxton line has also integrated color psychology. The brand’s Web site allows visitors to choose from 14 shades (red, black, fuchsia and chartreuse are a few), then provides a matching scent. In stores, sales associates are also encouraged to use the color-selection technique to interest consumers and help them pick one from the line.

The scents come in solid square bottles with rounded corners and a pewter-colored metal cap. They come in 100-ml. flacons, at 130 euros, or $167.22 at current exchange. A double label has the fragrance name on the outside; the inside, which can be seen through part of the clear bottle, shows a specific pattern and color that matches the scent. Each comes in a textured white box that can be opened by zipping off a center strip of paper; inside is a note from the perfumer explaining the inspiration for the fragrance, and the story behind it.

Just six months after launching, Buxton’s line became the top-selling niche brand in Russia, said Dmitri Denisov, of United Europe, who serves as global distribution manager for the line. He’s pleased, but not surprised: “We have high expectations for By Mark Buxton as we think it’s a unique project with a very different concept from other brands.”

Though perfumers are getting more attention these days, it’s mainly those who are house specialists for luxury brands or represented by nontraditional niche companies who get a ray of the limelight. So Buxton was surprised, but pleased by the interest of United Europe, and the attention and recognition he’s received since starting the line. “There’s hardly any perfumer where you know his face,” he said. “We’re silent stars if you want. You can go anywhere you want, nobody’s going to point you out and say ‘this guy made the last Givenchy or Dior’ or whatever. So nobody really knows us.”

That will probably change, at least for Buxton, as his line makes its way through Europe, selling in about 50 doors in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Benelux, Russia, Italy and France, focusing on concept shops like Colette in Paris and Milan’s 10 Corso Como.

Adding to that, this month the brand is launching at Berlin’s Quartier 2006, Institut Parfumeur Flores in Zagreb, Liberty in London, and 10 independent niche stores in France.

For 2009, Dmitri Denisov projects representation in 20 countries and, based on initial results, sales of 1.5 million euros, or $1.9 million at current exchange, and said plans are in place to update the line each year with new fragrances, limited editions and supplementary products such as home scents and candles.

An additional Buxton line with a different underlying theme, such as music, is another idea for the future.