As its rebellious creator famously said, perfumer Geza Schoen, “this one will appeal only to the artists, the freaks.”
He was talking about Molecule 01, crafted by niche perfumery Escentric Molecules. The scent shocked the perfume world at the time of its release in the early 2000s. Today, Molecule 01 and its sister scent, Escentric 01, are legendary among perfume aficionados, celebrities, and fashion influencers alike.
Let’s take a deep dive into the origin story behind the cult phenomenon that is Molecule 01.
Who Are Escentric Molecules?
Founded in 2006 by Berlin-based Schoen, this company made its name by creating fragrances that those in the know want, no need, to wear. Molecule 01 was the first in a line of Escentric fragrances that now numbers up to the just-released Molecule 05.
Perfumers create traditional perfumes and colognes using a blend of base, middle, and top notes. They typically smell the same on everyone. What really makes Escentric Molecules perfumes stand out is the fact that they’re effectively scentless. As the company explains, the concoctions blend with the wearer’s pheromones to create a scent unique to them.
Following on from the tradition established with Molecule 01, the later scents in the collection all feature rare aroma-molecules. Some, like the Iso E Super found in Molecule 01, are synthetic. Others, such as the Vetiveryl Acetate in Molecule 05, are a natural-synthetic hybrid.
Because all the Molecule-Escentric perfume pairings are so deceptively subtle, both men and women can wear them.
In recent years, Escentric Molecules added a body wash line and travel-ready perfume bottles to their refined list product offerings.
Why Is Molecule 01 So Coveted?
Iso E Super is the miraculous ingredient behind Molecule 01’s superpowers. Schoen was the first perfumer daring enough to use this chemistry-created, isolated aroma in such large percentages.
What Is Iso E Super?
Until Molecule 01 came along, only those working in the perfume industry knew about Iso E Super’s secretive superpowers.
Created in the laboratory of International Flavors & Fragrances (IFF) in 1973, the compound has long since been a favorite among perfumers. They add it in undetectably low doses to perfumes and colognes to unify the scents.
As IFF notes, the scent is best for fine fragrances and soaps. With hints of wood and amber (also known as ambergris), it functions as a floralizer with a medium note-impact.
When Schoen first encountered Iso E Super way back in the early 1990s, he couldn’t get enough of it. A single whiff and you’re hooked, he said of the experience.
Dissecting the Molecule 01 Scent
Before Molecule 01, the perfumeries used just a touch of Iso E Super in their concoctions. Schoen broke the mold and introduced not only Escentric 01, a fragrance with an astounding 65 percent of the mysterious aroma, but also Molecule 01, which contained only ISO E Super.
In fact, the other scents included in Escentric 01–such as lime, musk, and green jasmine bud–were there to highlight the moody tones of the compound, not the other way around.
But perhaps the most astounding property of Molecule 01 is its pheromone-like ability to attract attention. Described by Schoen’s as “a drug,” the inclusion of Iso E Super seems to make the wearer irresistible to other people.
People report always getting compliments when wearing Molecule 01, and it often appears in the top ten lists of wedding scents and perfumes to wear on a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner.
The success of the Molecule 01 and Escentric 01 duo paved the way for Escentric Molecules now ten-strong line of similar perfumes.
A Cult-Like Following
It’s not hard to find praise for Molecule 01. Type the name of the perfume into your search bar, and positive reviews flood your screen.
Popular perfumery forum Basenotes labels the scent a “cult classic” and its creator a “forward-thinking rebel.” A writer for Town & Country magazine reported that one whiff of the scent turns people animalistic. A perfume blogger wrote that she caught a stranger trying to sniff her while they queued at the bank.
And despite Schoen’s determination to create an anti-celebrity scent, Molecule 01 has a swarth of famous followers. Supermodels Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell (despite having fragrance lines of their own), actress and TV show host Kelly Ripa, and architect Zara Hadid… Those are just some of the biggest names.
How to Wear Molecule 01
Like any other fragrance, simply spray away! But that’s where the similarities between Molecule 01 and other scents end.
More lasting on fabric, without a top note, Molecule 01 is harder to smell up close than it is to those standing further away. (This might go some way into understanding why it garners the wearer so many compliments from strangers.)
The smell is something akin to strolling through woodland just after it’s rained. And because Molecule 01 contains an aroma chemical instead of a perfume, it mixes with the wearer’s body chemistry to create a uniquely alluring fragrance. Try to stick with three to four sprays maximum to avoid olfactory fatigue.
And since the only ingredient in Molecule 01 is Iso E Super, some people like to mix and match it with other scents. If you have a perfume collection, don’t be afraid to get experimental. Turn your dressing room into a perfumery!
From Experimental to Essential
From the very beginning of the creation of Molecule 01, Geza Schoen set out to create an unconventional scent. He wanted to make something to wow his trend-setting who said they didn’t like or wear perfume. Little did this pioneering perfumer know that Escentric Molecules would become one of the most sought after boutique fragrance collections on the market–well over a decade later.
Keen to add this highly coveted scent to your perfume collection?