For me fragrance has always played a big part in my life. From the audacious to the sublime my taste is diverse, and I have always favoured the more off-centre fragrances to the standard cookie cutter ones. A ten-year career in luxury fragrance and cosmetics opened my eyes to a world where mundane was not acceptable but minimalism was cherished. With a decade now almost under my belt in beauty editorial my nose has refined but my taste remains quite varied, but ultimately luxe.
In 2006, Escentric Molecules launched Molecule 01, a single aroma-molecule in a bottle. The molecule was Iso E Super, an abstract synthetic created in a lab at IFF. Iso E Super is one of those skin-sexy scents that makes you want to nestle into it. It is comforting, cocooning. It has a marked intermittence. To the wearer, it seems to vanish and then re-appear. This is due to the way it bonds with receptors in the olfactory system, only slowly releasing to make way for a fresh charge of the molecule on the receptors. Iso E Super does not exist in nature.
Molecule 01 became a cult phenomenon, hailed as the anti-fragrance fragrance and the scent of the 21st century. A love song to minimalism. Now Molecule 01 gets a plus one. In three iterations, it is paired with a single scent ingredient. 01 + 1 Molecule + Mandarin Molecule + Iris Molecule + Patchouli. Prior to the official launch I was fortunate enough to try the first every trio of Escentric Molecule + to ever be released and my thoughts were like that of the original. The fragrances are perhaps a little more daring that the original, but for vastly different reasons. It is still worth noting, it remains unique and is certainly not mainstream.
“Molecule + is Molecule 01 + 1 singular olfactory element. If that element had been another aroma-chemical, this would not have worked. Each of the pairings must be a natural. Only naturals have the complexity and radiance to work in a dance of two like this, while maintaining the simplicity of the concept.” Geza Schoen the nose and creator of Molecule.
The only way I could describe the Mandarin iteration of the fragrance is that mouth watering feeling that you get when you break the rind of a mandarin, the fresh excitement of a burst of fruitiness that is palpable. As the fragrance wears down though it remains tangible and fruity but also sensual.
Of course, Geza explains it more comprehensively: Mandarin is all about the instant hit. It’s so alive, the way it radiates off the skin with that citrus zestiness. But there is more to mandarin, it’s very fruity and aromatic as well. It’s a beautiful ingredient. Its transparency means that it vanishes quickly. I’ve touched it up with a little extra shading to extend it, adding a mandarin ingredient used in flavourings to give it super-juiciness. Then as it begins to fade, Molecule 01 syncs in, bringing a warm, erogenous feeling to play with that zinging freshness. That is unusual – for a top note ingredient like Mandarin and a base note like Iso E Super to dance together naked like this, without other notes coming between them. And then the mandarin is almost gone, and you are left with the elevated simplicity of Molecule 01. That’s what I love about Molecule 01 + Mandarin – it may be a dance of two but the story changes completely from beginning to middle to end.”
The Iris version I find harder to explain, possible because of the experience I had whilst wearing it. My initial reaction was that it smelt sweet and when it dried it became so subtle and feminine that I was surprised at the transformation. The floral hit is something quite singular and hard to describe. It leaves you feeling almost vulnerable to its passion, it is enveloping and fervent. Once again Gezas’ passion is the explanation you need.
It’s not easy to describe iris’ smell as such, but if you smell a fragrance without it, and then with it, you understand immediately what it does. It adds a creamy powderiness. It brings a physical dimension to a fragrance. I have had a long-standing love affair with iris. Every Escentric fragrance has an iris note somewhere in there. To me, iris is luxury. The iris pallida absolue I have used here is one of the most expensive ingredients in perfumery. You can find iris extracts for way less than that. But they do not have the great and subtle beauty of this absolue. It is radical to put this much in a fragrance. The silage is fantastic. This is a bomb, but a subtle bomb.”
Heady and vivacious is how I would describe the Patchouli iteration. There is a nostalgia around this smell, in that reminds me of my Father. He always wore woody fragrance and for me it reminds me of a masculine class that is unrivalled. When I wore this one, I got the most compliments, especially from women. Even through masks the scent remained and stayed on my skin although I could not smell it after it dried.
Geza says “Patchouli is a unique natural. Unlike 99% of perfume ingredients, we associate it with a particular period, with the sixties and seventies and that bohemian spirit. It has a cool, rather aloof woodiness to it. I love it for its moody beauty. I’ve used two qualities of patchouli here. The biggest chunk is Patchouli Coeur which is a very clean, soft patchouli oil fraction with the camphor-like top note removed. I have also included a patchouli oil from Indonesia to round it out with a little bit of a top note. The result is a sophisticated, clean patchouli that pairs fantastically well with Molecule 01.”
Overall the fragrances are designed to be worn alone and honestly there is no real merit in layering them, I did try but found that they are more effective utilised simply.
Available at Brown Thomas and retails at €108 for 100ml