New Perfume Review Escentric Molecules Molecule 01 + Mandarin or Iris or Patchouli- Chef Schoen’s New Menu

In my introduction yesterday I mentioned this quote from perfumer Geza Schoen on why he would use Iso E Super. He said, “it is the perfect basic kind of soup stock to cook the best soup with ever.” It is the reason Molecule 01 which is nothing but Iso E Super is as popular as it is. This is one of those ingredients in perfumery which opens new pathways for anyone designing fragrances. For Hr. Schoen to return to it and add in a single other keynote ends up displaying why that is so. I’m going to review these three new items on Chef Schoen’s menu.

Geza Schoen

Molecule 01 + Mandarin

All three of these are simple binary perfumes. There are other things in support, but they are there to enhance the two main pieces. 01 + Mandarin is the only one of the three which has two very distinct phases. It opens with the brilliance of citrus radiating through the inherent transparency of Iso E Super. This is part of the flexibility of it. It allows other ingredients to shine like a beam of light through its prism. In this case the mandarin begins to lose the bright wavelengths at the core while keeping the bitter ones as the Iso E Super takes over. This is that dusty dried earth effects the aromachemical is known for. As the dregs of the mandarin add in an appealing bite it all feels as if that early sun is now setting.

Molecule 01 + Iris

This is the perfume which launched this idea when Hr. Schoen created it for his partner. He uses Iris Pallida as the source of that ingredient. This is where he shows the elegance that Iso E Super can display. If 01 + Mandarin was the street food on this menu, 01 + Iris is the vichyssoise. It reminds me of the velvety texture of the best iterations I have had of the creamy soup. The iris is also passed through the prism of its perfume partner. In this case it opens it up. This is where the lift and expansiveness of Iso E Super takes a luxurious ingredient like iris and creates a surface for it to spread out over. There is a chic sophistication in the way the ionones find their way to stay pleasantly on top of it all for the entire time.

Molecule 01 + Patchouli

This is my kind of soup. This is the Asian type full of aromatic ingredients pulsing off the broth in enveloping waves. As Chef Schoen told me in our conversation patchouli is usually propelled through musks and other deeper ingredients. When he uses this prism of Iso E Super it also gives it permission to not be as dark. It asks it to be opaquer. This is the least transparent of the three yet is way lighter than a typical perfume featuring patchouli. The Iso E Super picks it up and then both ingredients keep rotating into different ways of interacting. This is the most dynamic of the three as each keeps the other looking its best.

If you want to understand why Iso E Super is such a critical piece of modern perfumery Hr. Schoen has provided all the pieces you need to learn. These three new menu items round out the story begun in 2005 with Molecule 01 and Escentric 01.

Disclosure: this review is based on bottles of each perfume provided by Escentric Molecules.

Mark Behnke

In the Perfume Kitchen with Geza Schoen on Escentric Molecules M+ Collection

Now that we have 20 years into the new century there is the opportunity for some perspective when looking back. The independent and niche perfume areas really exploded into growth just after we crossed Y2K. The first five years of this new era were where the rules were being written. Brands weren’t trying to find their way to the mall. They were trying to find their way to the aficionado. The ones who wanted more than function from perfume. This was a good description of myself at this time. I was eagerly absorbing as much information as I could.

One part of that was trying to understand the ingredients which went into these perfumes. Like most my classroom was experiential. Through the forums I was collating my experience with others. One of the best ways I was able to learn came through one of those audacious gambles being taken then. Perfumer Geza Schoen would release Molecule 01 in 2005. It was just a single ingredient, the synthetic aromachemical Iso E Super. It was paired with another perfume where that synthetic ingredient was featured in a more traditional perfume called Escentric 01. This has been repeated with four other Molecules and led to four Escentrics to go with them.

Of all of them Molecule 01 has been the breakout star. It has been a perennial bestseller wherever it is sold. The reason is by itself it has a unique scent profile. It is one of those ingredients which creates a different scent profile and effect depending on its concentration. At 100% it is a wearable perfume all by itself.

Now sixteen years later Hr. Schoen is releasing a new set of perfumes called Escentric Molecules M+. The idea is to add another keynote to see how Iso E Super interacts with it. I had the pleasure a couple weeks ago of speaking with Hr. Schoen about these new fragrances.

Because he is also a trained organic chemist like me, I have always jokingly called him Herr Professor Doktor when he is teaching us through the Molecule and Escentric releases. About halfway through our conversation he said something which really encapsulated why Iso E Super has been so influential.

We were talking about the other Molecules and if any of those would be a candidate for this kind of effort. This was when he hit on something which resonated with me so strongly. He said, “It is the perfect basic kind of soup stock to cook the best soup with ever.”

Before we got to that he described how this all came about. It started with his partner Sophie asking him to make her a nice perfume from her favorite ingredient, iris. He thought it would go nice with Iso E Super and made that up for her to wear. She started getting asked what she was wearing. Even Hr. Schoen was able to know when she was nearby through the sillage she trailed behind her. It started with a lovely home meal made for a loved one by Chef Schoen.

He would come to realize there might be some other confections to be realized. He headed back into the kitchen to see what he would find. He told me he tried around a dozen different ingredients looking for the same synergy he found with iris. He mentioned that vanilla was “horrible”. That cake fell flat.

Over the time in the test kitchen he would find there were two ingredients which made the best recipes. They are mandarin and patchouli. The difference between all three of these perfumes Molecule 01 + Iris, or Mandarin, or Patchouli is they are a binary creation of Iso E Super and the plus. These aren’t as complex as Escentric 01. That seems like the entrée in retrospect. The three plus ones are more the courses leading up to it.

All three of these new fragrances are remarkably wearable. There is something compelling about the way Iso E Super acts within a perfume. I am going to review all three of Chef Schoen’s perfumes tomorrow. Each of them will illustrate why Molecule 01 produces “the best soup ever.”

Mark Behnke