High Notes

High Notes

We meet three London-based fragrance masters who are challenging the status quo with their innovative approach to scent

The late American poet-philosopher Lewis Thomas once said that ‘the act of smelling something, anything, is remarkably like the act of thinking.’ This is certainly true of the new wave of male perfumers, who are using scent to articulate concepts and emotions for their brands in the most ingenious of ways.

Timothy Han, Edition Perfumes

Timothy Han’s creative practice is driven by narratives: ‘Whether it’s in the form of literature that inspires my creations, or the need to tell stories through what I do and the way in which fragrances unfold on your skin,’ says Timothy from his studio in London.

Timothy established his niche brand, aptly named Editions, in 2014, and is known for his progressive, hand-crafted compositions that each interpret a literary masterpiece. ‘On the Road is inspired by Jack Kerouac’s 1957 cult novel, and it immediately sets the bar as to who will or won’t wear the fragrance,’ he says. ‘Are you an adventurous and open-minded person who will see where the scent takes you, or will you retreat to the safety of what is known?’

Timothy’s latest scent, The Decay of the Angel, articulates the rich, heady sensibility of Yukio Mishima’s 1971 novel of the same name, with a bold heart of jasmine sambac, acacia and cade, and top notes of ylang ylang and neroli. Up next? ‘A new fragrance inspired by Joris-Karl Huysmans’ 1884 book Against Nature – and an immersive reality experience.’

Tom Daxon

A true reflection of his personal tastes, Tom Daxon’s range of fragrances are unique and well-considered. ‘My goal is to make approachable scents with the finest ingredients that reflect my preferences,’ says Tom.

Tom founded his eponymous line fresh out of university in 2013, yet scent has been an integral part of his life since his early years. His mother, Dale Daxon Bowers, was a chemist and later became the creative director of British cosmetics group Molton Brown. As a result Tom spent much of his childhood in Grasse, France – known as the world’s capital of perfume – where he would explore the endless perfume laboratories and develop a strong affinity for fragrance.

Today, his olfactive repertoire, including colognes, luxury candles and bath and body products, is primarily inspired by the ingredients themselves. ‘It’s all about finding an amazing ingredient that I want to make a fragrance from and build everything around,’ he says. Tom is currently putting the finishing touches to his eleventh scent, a warm unisex eau de parfum named Riven Oak, which he says ‘uses oakwood absolute, a new ingredient formed from old drinks barrels, which has so much depth to it.’

Matt Brown and Antonio Weiss, Thomas Clipper

Matt Brown believes that a modern fragrance should possess three things: ‘subtlety, sophistication and personality.’ Though it might sound like he’s speaking from years of experience, the entrepreneur and his business partner Antonio Weiss only made their foray into fragrance very recently. ‘Scent felt like a natural evolution of Thomas Clipper’s luxury shaving products,’ says Antonio. Their debut fragrance line, Unite, comprises three colognes: City, Country and Coast, which are designed to be blended with one another. ‘Each cologne reflects the British pride in personality and customisation,’ says Matt. The name of each scent reflects its olfactive composition. City is a modern fougère inspired by traditional English barbering; Coast is a nod to the north Norfolk coast – wild and fresh, while Country is verdant and woody, like the great British countryside. ‘We’re an eccentric bunch, the Brits, which is why a customisable cologne is a perfect fit,’ says Antonio.

  • Words: Natalie Rigg