The genius of the first Escentric Molecules perfume, Vol 01 from 2006, was the word-of —mouth/wildfire supposition that even though most people couldn’t actually smell this synthetic molecule on themselves – ISO E SUPER -elusive, translucent- it smelled quite amazing and irresistible to everybody else, mutating with your own personal skin chemistry to create an authentic aroma all your own. Compliments all around from strangers following you down the street. A dream from Patrick Suskind.

Like many, I go from not being able to smell anything at all with this base note to an uneasy relationship with its synthetic insistence – which can be sexy, in an athletic, animalic, mint gum chewing fresh ironed sort of way : clean, yet dirty, fleetingly intriguing, even if I am unlikely to be sufficiently seduced by such perfumes for my own use.

Cloaking the emperor’s new clothes is a clever idea though : the original molecules ‘masked’ with an ingredient from nature, and all three of these new releases are commercially viable hits : the iris a mid octave mellow and bright affair with the general tenor of a Prada Infusion or a Hermessence Vetiver Tonka, nice and approachable although in my case I JUST WANT THE AERATED IRIS AND NOT THE MOLECULE UNDERNEATH (——that said, for the full alchemical after-effect with this brand, it should go without saying that you probably need to smell the scent on another entity…….)

I am a mandarin lover, and the beginning of the ether musked fusion in Molecule 01 + Mandarin is classic ‘mandarin flavour’ in the mode of Diptyque’s Oyedo or my preferred Il Profumo’s Mandarine – all the architecture of an essentialized mandarin without any of the pulp. For me, I am hypersensitive to the lurk that is coming beneath ( which to many smells like an erotic cedar , but to me is more like an artificial castoreum note that tinges the rind with something unholy). This may be part of the perfume’s appeal though – all these are all just very superficial observations —they appeared in the postbox this morning – and I would like to try this one on again – tomorrow’s forecast is sun.

Surprisingly- given my general non keenness on the current treatment of the note -the husky patchouli was the perfume in the trio of small bottles I liked the best – tawny and aromatic with some memories of Lutens Borneo. D sprayed some on his sweater for a day off at home and I can imagine a good linger :possibly ceding into severity, later, I don’t know – I will find out when I get home tonight. The natural darkness of fermented patchouli leaves, though, melding more instinctively with the already woody ‘molecule’ it is girded to is to me a more naturally ‘altered state’ :: fused. Lessuncomfortable : less like dressing the invisible.

a PS / 11 hour later edit:::

d, meeting me in the kitchen just now had a real ‘wow you smell lovely ‘ general vibe : fresh, effortless-

I sniffed the two boxes of the mandarin and the iris and they smelled practically EXQUISITE.

I am confused.


Filed under Flowers


  1. I have never tried anything from this company; the name is just so off-putting to me, I can’t get past that. I just want things that smell nice, from nicely named companies, with a pleasing name, and very light-handed on the synthetics. I hate the fact that so many fragrances are just named for their ingredients, where is the mystery to that? Not to mention the cacophony of synthetic aromas being passed off as a proper scent.
    I want fragrances with fabulous notes, and fabulous ingredients, and fabulous names. I don’t want to smell of Molecule…

    • I bought a new vintage bottle of Hermes Rouge yesterday which speaks volumes about me..

      I can understand the millennials’ need for simplicity though : something to deter the terror of smelling bad, just smell-liked by everyone.

      I am actually going to try the iris and mandarin as work scents once it gets warmer just to test out other people’s reactions .

  2. Robin

    ISO E SUPER doesn’t seem to be my nose’s thing. I remember when Gaultier 2 came out. I think that was the first IES bomb. I had that bottle for years and couldn’t get into it, not even for room spray. Finally, one fine garbage day, it was gone.

    But it’s fascinating how your nose came back to it — with a vengeance. Nothing wrong with that.

    Good column, Neil. Thank you.

    • At night it was like smelling the most fabulous smelling young things just scintillating with promise and optimism.

      I am going to hang onto my bottles

      ( I remember the Gaultier 2 : intrigued by the premise – utterly indifferent ( insensate ) to the result.

      The bottle wasn’t even nice enough to be worth keeping ?

      • Robin

        Funny that I don’t hang on to bottles, you know? Even some beautiful ones from a long time ago. I also throw away all the gorgeous packaging, even from really high-end fragrances. I just don’t have the room, to be honest!

      • Something purist and unbullshitted about this that I love

      • Robin

        Well, if I had something like a perfect bottle of vintage Vol de Nuit or Narcisse Noir parfum or something like that in its ridiculously stunning original packaging, I would keep it for sure. My Patou 1000s extraits are all boxed as well. I think I might have a few other things. Oh, that great Nuit de Noel oval-y box with the tassel, I’ve got that . . . So there is a bit of impurist bullshit going on with me!

      • Ah!

        That Nuit De Noel bottle is one I covet. Possibly the best flacon ever ; I have a cologne and an extrait in the boring bottle

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