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Tom Daxon: “Naming fragrances is the hardest part of the job, it’s awful”

Words by Rob Chilton

Modern, minimalist and very addictive

Tom Daxon fragrances are thoughtfully blended without resorting to any of the look-at-me histrionics used by other, bigger brands.

The font

“The name Tom Daxon on the bottle was designed bespoke for me but the fragrance name is in a font called Kivit Pro Thin. When I started the brand we printed off loads of pages of the same name over and over again in different fonts and I just picked it, there was no science to it. I wanted the branding to reflect the fragrances, which hopefully have a quality and a clarity. It’s such plain packaging, with very little on the label and I think when you do things quite simply you have nowhere to hide so the fragrance has to be good.”

The bottle

“The glass we use to make the bottles is made in Germany. Glass is a liquid, it’s poured, and how the glass settles to achieve a nice, squared-off distribution inside the bottle is really tricky to get right. I appreciate those little things.”

The Britishness

“When I started the brand I hated the British trope that a lot of traditional British brands are known for, you know, moustaches, phrases like ‘exceedingly good’, and Union Jack bunting – it makes me cringe. As a modern brand, it would be crazy for me to allude to that heritage. The thing I want to get across is the modernness and the minimalism.”

Vachetta, a warm blend of cardamom, lapsang souchong and leather

The business

“With any business, you want to sell more product, but I think when you have your own brand you have to be protective of it. If you have a good thing going, you don’t need short-termism. Bigger brands have a sales manager who just wants their figures to look good. I speak to stores and they can’t understand why I suggest they only stock a small amount of the range.”

The experience

“I have smelt my fragrances on people in public – it’s surreal – but I’ve never had the confidence to go up and speak to the person. Can you imagine? It would sound like the worst chat-up line ever if I went up to a woman and said something. Plus, I don’t want to be a letdown. I think people would want me to be an artiste and I’ve never been about that.”

Tom Daxon’s bestseller, Iridium

The names

“Naming fragrances is the hardest part of the job, it’s awful, I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. If you ask someone if they like a name they start to wonder if they like it or not, but when it’s actually on the bottle people don’t question it. Many times I’ve just put the name on the bottle and said, ‘Right, it’s done.’ The name is not the key, but I think you can alienate a customer with a rubbish name. Sometimes I think, would that fragrance sell more if I had named it better?”

The perfumer

“I work with Jacques Chabert who has a lab in Grasse in the south of France. He’s an artisan, he has no ego and he likes direction so I give him a brief, which spurs the creative process. He sends me a dozen samples and I test them on my skin. I put coloured stickers on my arm so I know which fragrance is which because otherwise I’d forget. I quickly run out of arm space. I make notes and then go back and forth with Jacques; maybe I’ll suggest he try another ingredient. I’m amazed that he doesn’t say, what the hell does this guy know?”

Tom Daxon products are priced at AED 840 and are available in Bloomingdale’s in The Dubai Mall and in 1847 salons across Dubai

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