January 3, 2014
Geza Schoen in the lab
The chemist in me has always been fascinated with the ingredients that go in to making my favorite perfumes. Since I have been writing about perfume I have received more and more access to experiencing fragrance on a molecular level. Back in 2005 I was not writing about perfume and most of my access to single ingredients came from the do-it-yourself shops which gave me some insight into the reality that I would never be a perfumer. I also drove the counter people insane asking whether it was natural or synthetic. When they answered synthetic I asked them for the chemical name. The smart ones learned to answer “natural” whenever the big guy with the hat asked a question. Thankfully perfume Geza Schoen also is fascinated with the synthetic ingredients that go into perfumes and he has a company called Escentric Molecules that does exactly this and was my first insight into the synthetic ingredients of fragrance.
Escentric Molecules releases a pair of fragrances for each edition. Molecule focuses on a specific synthetic ingredient. Escentric is a complete fragrance with that ingredient added in overdose with other notes around it. Hr. Schoen is teaching the chemistry of perfume by letting you experience the single ingredient first and then once you are familiar with it to experience it again as part of an ensemble. Molecule 01 was a particular milestone because the first ingredient to get this treatment was Iso E Super.
Iso E Super
Iso E Super was created by the chemists at International Flavors & Fragrances who were looking for an aromachemical which could impart a transparent woodiness to a fragrance with tenacity. With Molecule 01 Hr. Schoen put a solution that only contained Iso E Super in it. Ever since Dior Fahrenheit I had been aware of something which was woody but somehow lighter and heftier at the same time. When I sprayed Molecule 01 on I immediately understood what had created that effect. This was a beautiful woody smell closely related to cedar but then not really. It felt like it was expanding to occupy every olfactory receptor I owned. Then almost as quickly it was gone, or so I thought. Molecule 01 also would teach me the sensitivity of one’s own personal ability to be aware of their fragrance. Iso E Super is big for a fragrance molecule and that size helps with its longevity but it also saturates the receptors which deal with bigger molecules. When I would wear molecule 01 I would stop sensing it after a few hours but my wife would smell it when I got home from work. This is one reason why as good as the single molecule smells they are not really meant to be worn by themselves.
The corresponding blend Escentric 01 is a mix of lime, orris, and incense around the Iso E Super. Hr. Schoen has repeated this two more times with Escentic Molecules 02 in 2008 where Ambroxan was the molecule and in 2010 with Vetiveryle Acetate as the aromachemical on display. I am hoping 2014 has Escentric Molecules 04 to look forward to.
If you are fascinated with the ingredients of perfume the Escentric Molecules collection is a great place to start that journey. While they weren’t my first steps into the chemistry of fragrance they have been one of the most valuable and Molecule 01 was where it started.
Disclosure: This review is based on a bottle of Molecule 01 I purchased.
–Mark Behnke, Managing Editor
Editor’s Note: The whole Escentric Molecules collection has become available as 30mL travel sizes just at the end of 2013. These are really the ideal size for anyone interested in these fragrances.