So back to reality.

There will be no dripping white florals, such as DSH’s nectarous Cross Pollination, a lovely bedtime orange of island breezes I shall wear as a private reverie scent, in my workplace today (though I am sorely tempted). No lush stinking tuberoses. No floating plumerias. But there may be neroli – I have made some delicious new citrus handbalms with oils that I got in Hawaii to slip inside my suit jackets, and I do like pairing those up with a touch of Matiere Premiere’s Neroli Oranger, a personal favourite that smells fresh and clean and optimistic and which I think is going to be my scent of the day.

But what about something anti-intuitive, like Escentric Molecules’ 01+ Iris? Could I possibly start wearing this one a little later in the term?

A bottle of this perfume was kindly sent to my event by Scent Bar LA, and I immediately registered it as something I could wear (and commandeered accordingly). While the ‘Molecules’ alone by themselves don’t appeal, and I found the + Mandarin variant weird, the + Patchouli too biscuity and persistent (D wore it and I thought I liked it, then decidedly didn’t), the iris equivalent has a mellow and easygoing, benevolent vibe that I can imagine pulling off, particularly when inside I am feeling precisely the opposite. It is also improved upon, I feel, and personalized, if teamed up with a little essential oil of vetiver, a combo I have already tried and really liked for a taming/wildness compatibility.

What concerns me about wearing a scent like this – a very familiar accord to the 21st century nose, like a toned down Prada Infusion D’Iris/Vetiver but woodier, more transparent and perhaps manly, is not being able to control the projection of the perfume and feeling paranoid that I am somehow filling up a room with just one spritz when I can’t even smell it myself (the Molecules are, of course, famous for this very phenomenon: you become quickly anosmic, whereas for others your smell is never out of sight: is this what we want from a scent? To be domineering the airwaves with stealth and quiet resolution? Have you had any Molecule experiences of your own, in terms of compliments, aversions?)

I experienced something similar to this sillage conundrum when D wore the beautiful Poivre Samarcande by Hermès for a time around 2008. He could barely smell it on himself at all, and neither could I half the time, but during one night in the Schoeneberg district of Berlin, a stranger sniffed it on the wind from across the street and came rushing over to compliment him on how amazing he was smelling (when perceptible, I did find it really sexy as well, I must admit, though I did find the sheer unpredictability of its throw verging on alarming).

No. You have talked me out of it. It feels a little too risky for a school environment, even if its quotidian ‘rightness’ – I might actually feel a little too conformist wearing this in truth – would give one an air of contemporary competence. Social acceptance. Even trustworthiness (a feeling I probably don’t elicit drenched in Flos Mortis.) The iris and the wood are in nice balance: all is metallically aerated; suppressed to just the right iota. I feel probably that it might possibly even be quite sexy on me .

But not today.


Filed under Flowers


  1. Neroli never seems to offend anyone, always a safe choice.
    The Molecules veer from nothingness, to blasts of sawdust, alternating to vague musky woods on me. Just to be trendy I bought a bottle of Molecules 01 and JHAG Not a Perfume ( supposedly a dupe for Molecules 02) when they first came out. I wasn’t a fan of either (just found them meh) but my Japanese clients certainly gave me lots of compliments!

    • What perfect sawdusty descriptions: but amazing that you got the compliments. This is the thing. Sometimes you want to nuzzle into that acceptability zone. I can imagine wearing a bit on the wrist – this iris variant is quite pleasant.

  2. OnWingsofSaffron

    I can hardly believe that an employer can actually forbid you to wear perfume! But what grates most is that I would have to comply. It is more or less unthinkable for me that I should have to yield to a fashion diktat by some anonymous administrative agency. Yet that seems the case in Japan: I read that some employers force high heels on their female staff! As loud and egocentric and me-first and inconsiderate our western culture/society often is, I‘m still glad that I alone decide what I wear—clothes and cosmetics and perfume!

    • I mean if I walked into work drowning in gardenia (which I have, actually – I was wearing Penhaligons’ Gardenia WITH THE TALC AS WELL) last summer, nobody will say anything (they might cough).

      And the rule about scent seems to have been overridden by the strength of smell of washing powders and fabric softeners now, which are pretty potent! Also, my working contract doesn’t mention anything of that nature – the Japanese staff’s does – so I could theoretically wear what I like and often do, but then you don’t want to make other people uncomfortable either so I sometimes hold back.

      As for the high heels thing – yes, that is a real phenomenon. Me and d were fuming about it – it’s always quite tragic at this time of year to see university students transform into Office Ladies with those horrible chunky heels, hair tied back (ideally, in that old way of thinking you aren’t supposed to wear glasses either as they are ‘unsexy’ and ‘secretary’ like), utterly featureless and conforming as they become part of the seas of ‘freshmen’.

  3. Sarah F.

    I had the pleasure of making many many little samples of the Molecules 01 + Iris during the workshop and I think a lot of the attendees gravitated towards it because (in the warming heat under the tent) it provided something that smelled clean and a bit refreshing? While I wasn’t able to smell on my skin for too long as I immediately went on to be layered in more fragrances from distilling samples, I definitely found it pleasant.

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