Escentric Molecules Molecule 01

...makes you go back to strange men's hotels. Allegedly.


When Escentric Molecules Molecule 01 launched in 2005, famous fumeheads like Elton John and trend monkeys like Madonna immediately clutched it to their scented breasts. Cool hunters from the fashion and art worlds frothed over this intriguing “non-perfume” perfume.

The scuttlebutt was, Molecule 01 contained pheromones, chemicals that supposedly trigger helpless, dirty moose lust with just a sniff. Never mind that in nature, pheromones exist solely to ensure lemur-on-lemur love, or to keep Mr. and Mrs. Wildebeest courtin’ and sparkin’.

There’s no one all-purpose love potion that you can pop in a perfume, like a schmear on a bagel, that makes critters of all stripes fall under each other’s spell. And proof that humans respond to artificial pheromones is hazy at best.

But in the case of Molecule 01, the pheromone rumor seemed like it might be true. Especially since not much else is going on in this eau de toilette -- what with it being only one molecule and all.

Strictly speaking, Molecule 01 is based on a chemical composition called Iso E Super, a subtle woody accord that warms up and fills out everything from perfumes to shampoos to floor cleaners. When perfumer Geza Schoen first encountered it, he realized it smelled just dandy on its own, and liked the idea of fashioning a perfume from a single raw material.

Thus, Iso E Super became “Molecule 01”, a flat, faintly cedary scent with the warmth of sandalwood -- if not the complexity. It’s a quiet, pleasant smell, on the masculine side of the tracks given the woodiness, though worn by both ladies and gents. Molecule 01 is not as oily smelling as a musk, but it does have the “your skin but better” quality that musk possesses.

As Mr. Shoen says, “It was meant to be for people who wanted a feeling more than an actual fragrance.”

The hallmark of this...uh...feeling is that you can only smell it for a short time before it stops registering on your nasal radar. But everyone you meet will continue to pick up on it, causing an odd disconnect between your experience and theirs.

This is not my idea of a satisfactory relationship with a perfume. I require a tad more loyalty. I want my scent to leave with the fella it came in with, the fella in this particular metaphor being me.

Despite the wishful thinking, Molecule 01 isn’t actually a pheromone, but the hide-and-seek nature of the fragrance does seem to twist people’s melons. Just look at some of the claims folks have been making on the LuckyScent website for its nose-twitching, head-turning, groin-swelling effectiveness:
"I bought it cos the woman of my dreams likes woody fragrances and (you're not going to believe it) we are now an item!"

"The shop assistant explained that this perfume didn't smell when you put it on but was guaranteed to attract the right mate. Then...complete strangers approached me to ask what perfume I was wearing and I caught a man trying to sniff me in a queue at the bank."

"Today, two handsome men walked by me and both of them were wearing it. It immediately made me hot and go back to their hotel with them. The tall one seduced me. We lounged by the pool all day and made love all night."

If you say so, people.

While some experience Molecule 01 as a kind of heat-seeking olfactory missile, all I get is an agreeable ambient presence that plays peek-a-boo with my nose.

My favorite reaction to Molecule 01 came from a lady who was trying it the other day at my local perfume boutique. I watched her as she expectantly brought her Molecule’d wrist to her nose, and waited for her to be transported.

Transportation did not occur. She turned to me with a puzzled expression.

“Maybe it needs a couple more molecules?”

Molecule 01 is available from LuckyScent.com

Image via Lemur Kingdom on Animal Planet

40 comments:

  1. Bless that sweet lady's candor, Katie !
    I'm howling cawfee out of my nose ;-0

    ReplyDelete
  2. If I hadn't read all the pheromone hype about it, I would have just thought Molecule 01 was exactly as you described: a "flat, faintly cedary scent with the warmth of sandalwood". I can smell it on me as much as I can smell anything else I apply (which is not a lot), and my partner and his mother both disliked it, though in fairness my partner dislikes all perfume, so we can probably discount his view. It is a sad truth that I have yet to drive anyone wild with a scent, but am quietly on the case with my vertical ylang ylang project. : - )

    ReplyDelete
  3. It is a simple scent (one molecule and all) but I get more reactions from people when I wear Molecule 1 than from anything else. I don't think it's the pheromones, but maybe it's the umami of the fragrance world. Has anyone tried layering it on top of another fragrance?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Such a waste of good coffee, chayaruchama! But the woman's assessment does deserve a snort!

    flittersniffer, Molecule 01 is certainly not a lush, glorious bouquet that triggers deep, appreciative sniffs. I can see it pissing off some people, especially with the rubbing alcohol top note that takes a while to vamoose.

    Noal - I think your "umami of the fragrance world" comment is probably the most perfect way to describe Molecule 01 I've ever heard! Bravo! I've not tried layering it, but devotees tell me that that's the way to go. It does seem to make sense as an enhancer of the "real perfume" you're already wearing, since Iso E Super's role is that of an enhancer. What do you layer yours with?

    ReplyDelete
  5. "I want my scent to leave with the fella it came in with, the fella in this particular metaphor being me."

    I thoroughly agree with this statement. When my own fragrance plays hard to get, I'm obviously dating the wrong bottle.

    ReplyDelete
  6. nathan, I never want to get to the stage where I'm hiring a private detective to discover whose fancy my fragrance is tickling.

    ReplyDelete
  7. i fear it's the emperor's new cologne. i tried it and didn't get it at all. or maybe i'm just not coooool enough? maybe it would work in layer, but on it's own ...? meh x

    ReplyDelete
  8. rivergirlie, it took me many dogged attempts to actually detect Molecule 01's scent. And then once I captured it - it seemed inescapably "there". Except when it disappeared again.

    I feel like I'm going to need to smell it on someone else before I really "get it". If at all.

    ReplyDelete
  9. This isn't a perfume, it is a (cheap) ingredient. And it is 100% a marketing exercise, nothing more. Imagine Evian bottling LA tap in a glass bottle, calling it Eccentric Water, and charging $10 a pop just to see how many people they could sucker into buying it. That is what you have here.

    As Iso E Super is a particular molecule and all Iso E Super molecules would have to be identical in order to be Iso E Super, why wouldn't fans of this fragrance simply purchase IES at someplace like Perfumer's Apprentice ($9 per oz), blend it with some perfumer's alcohol, and save $160?

    And how is it that this fragrance isn't evidence that a) Geza Schoen is just plain lazy or b) Geza Schoen is running a scam to fleece perfume aficionados out of some serious cash?

    Marketing exercises like this give the whole industry a bad rep.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Yup yup yup rkf, smelling of Molecule 01 could indeed be as simple as mixing up your own batch from ingredients ordered online for mere dollars.

    But just as people would rather run on a treadmill in an expensive gym than run around the block, there is a market for pre-packaged Iso E Super, with all the miraculous claims for its mesmerizing results.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I just bought a sample of this perfume, and I must say its..interesting. I initially thought there was something wrong with my nose because I was not able to smell it on myself after a while. My coworker however did smell the scent on me. She tried the perfume and the same thing happened to her. I'm glad that I'm not the only one that can't smell this on themselves. (that my snoze isn't shot from sniffing all these perfumes:)) I've never had a perfume that did that before.

    Can't say this perfume is for me, but I am glad I tried it.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Everything's worth a try, cupcakes doughnuts. Especially cupcakes and doughnuts, now that you mention it.

    I can think of another scent that plays hide and seek with me: Annick Goutal Musc Nomade. I go in and out of pick up the musk.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Well I followed a woman around Sainsbury's to ask her what she was wearing - it was the most intoxicating smell ever, absolutely gorgeous and she told me is was Molecule 01 so i rushed back to the office and bought one online at Harvey Nichols - can't wait to have people following me around Sainsbury's lol. The sales girl I spoke to on the phone to confirm the fragrance told me this was the popular one that smells green sexy cedar and woody - but only when your body warms up - it works with your own pheromones! So it won't smell exactly the same on everyone.

    ReplyDelete
  14. too bad we don't find it in Brazil. I'm about to order one in Luckyscent.com and I'm really anxious to see the people's reactions... ;D
    Thank you Katie for sharing this with us!!!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Katynha -- let us know what kind of results you get....

    ReplyDelete
  16. EGADS! Iso E Super goes for 20 bucks a kilo, undiluted (if buying in bulk...) and you can find resellers selling it for $15 per 80ml, undiluted. There's just no way to justify $175 for a bottle...

    But since this posting, you showcased it on the SD Channel 5 news show, so has your opinion changed here Katie?

    ReplyDelete
  17. Paul, it's hard to justify the cost of many simple things we willingly shell out for (bottled water comes to mind), and you're absolutely right: one could send off for the aromachemical and make a lifetime supply of Molecule 01 in their kitchen. But that presumes you're motivated enough to do that, which most are not.

    And re my opinion on Molecule 01, Nathan Branch just sent me an email asking me the very same question. And what I say to both of you is that I still stand by my original review, it's too simple a smell for me, but I do recognize that it's a crowd pleaser with an interesting hook.

    I've noticed that fume newbie guys are intrigued by its simplicity, and so it does make a fun "goof-proof" recommendation for guys branching out to niche. One of the cameramen lost his marbles over it on the last TV appearance I did. The Iso E Super that appears in so many masculine fragrances makes it comfortingly familiar, but it's also comfortingly anonymous to those who don't want to make too much of a statement.

    And, as Fred Malle sniffily said, you *could* use it to layer with other, more complex things to butch/warm them up.

    ReplyDelete
  18. You know that person who puts on way too much of something because he wants to smell it on himself? That's not me, until I bought this. I was so confused as to how a product with such rave reviews from all over, could smell like nothing. I mean really nothing. I smell the top note of rubbing alcohol after the initial spray for about a minute then not a thing. So i kept spraying it on me. An hour later... still not a thing. I'll have to wait and see if it does what other say and enhances your own natural scent/whatever else you may be wearing. I'll try to layer it with some Burberry Touch I think.

    ReplyDelete
  19. This is a very educational post. What I had read about this fragrance prior to this post made me wonder about its price. If it's only one ingredient, then it's not like money is being paid for the time spent to perfect this fragrance. I had assumed this was just one very pricey little molecule...er...more so than essential oil of jasmine. Yeah, that's it.

    I'm definitely going to try purchasing Iso E super. It will be a fun little science project if nothing else.

    Oo, oo, Katie, what's even better than cupcakes and doughnuts would be the one time I got a combo-platter dessert at a restaurant that was creme brulee and bread pudding made from yummy homemade cinnamon doughnuts, the crispy delicious kind. Way better than a chip butty, I betcha.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Hey fellas, Believe me when i say. people try to smell this thing on me.
    I noticed that Escentric molecule escentric 01 has a lit bit citrus and pepper notes. So I try to layer with Clinique Happy for Men cologne. The result, is STUNNING. I tried many ways of layering. But the most effective way is to separate those two cologne. First I put on Escentric molecule where my body heat might be the warmest eg. Chest, Arms, and even on behind of neck but below collar level. And then I put on Clinique happy for men on near those area but not directly on it so it would come out together into the air. And it works. So many people try to smell me on the underground, bus and tube. I also got ladies smiling and staring at me. Men asking me what cologne i wear. It is so pleasant. And let me tell you guys, Dont put it on as soon as you're out of shower. Let your body warm enough to apply Escentric molecule so that you would see the effect. IF your body temperature is low, I bet you and other people around you will not smell a thing. And Let me remind you something. I tried to put on too much on the first day I got this thing and people say that I smell like a drunk man. Some people also looked at me as like an awful person. Try it and I hope it will work out for you guys.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Oh and If you try to mix Clinique Happy for men and Escentric Molecule ,Molecule 01 directly in a decant. The scent will have similar but not the same with Dior Homme Sport.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Htat Min Oo - thanks for the detailed advice. I heartily endorse your recommendation not to overdo application of Molecule 01. This thing quickly goes from an under-the-radar hum of "someone smells good" to "AACKKK! Your cologne is melting my face off!" when oversprayed. Molecule 01 is incredibly long-lasting, and is intolerable at more than a spray or two.

    And you're right - it's the perfect goof-proof ingredient to wear with other scents. It adds that comforting blond woods note.

    ReplyDelete
  23. So in a nutshell, two sprays is the Max you would recommend for this fragrance? I just made a homemade one for myself.

    ReplyDelete
  24. No more than 2 sprays, because it lives forever on a human being's skin. And clothes. I can't speak to your homemade one, though, because who know what kind of preservatives or secret additives and goo might be in the Escentric Molecules one, and how they may affect longevity.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Dear Katie,
    You are the fragrance expert. Am I just unlucky? Is my body chemistry just not one of the lucky ones? The good news is: one spritz has lasted ALL day. The bad news is: it has been like walking around with a cedar plank shoved up my nose. Normally when I choose a perfume, I do so because I love it. To be completely honest I got this (via .com) because of all the rave reviews and people claiming it got them so many compliments. I have to admit I wasn't expecting full on drop to your knees praise for my great taste, but maybe I looking forward to a little nudge or extra sniff from a friendly stranger. Oh well... That's not the point, the point is big cedar-y one. A flat cedar smack in the face. People probably thought I was wearing mens cologne!! How does it smell on you? And what's your diagnosis Katie? Is my chemistry just not as irresistible as some others lol actually that might explain alot.

    Kat

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Personally, Kat, Molecule 01 is not for me, precisely because of the flatness of it, the lack of depth. This is because it's not a composition, it's a single aromachemical that in a blend with other elements introduces a velvety, friendly, woody smoothness. On its own, it's an unwavering, long-sounding wooden horn - not a foghorn, not a blare, but a never-ending tone that does not vary from person to person. If you happen to enjoy that tone - great, smiles all round. If you don't, then move on to something that will satisfy your soul.

      I'm in London at the moment, where people are crazy about the Molecule 01. I pass at least one person every day who wears it, both men and women. Iso E Super is a pleasant odor that is hard to object to (other than to its upbiquity in so many perfumes and laundry detergents), and it's a new enough trend so that people aren't yet going "oh, it smells so 2000s!" or "it reminds me of my geometry teacher/Mom/ex: bad vibes, man!". Without any references or emotional associations so far, Molecule 01 appeals in an "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" kind of way.

      Delete
  26. I have a question about molecule O1 that I have meaning to ask but haven't and this has reminded me.
    I've almost deliberately avoided smelling Molecule 01, because I don't think it will interest me, but also because I am now at the point where without having smelled it in isolation I think I'm starting to recognise its presence (or rather that of Iso E Super) in a lot of perfumes, and I have a feeling that an isolated smelling of it will mean a lessening of my enjoyment of other scents.
    However I know that you have smelled it directly, and also that you have reviewed at least one scent (Terre D'hermes) that has a huge dose of it- 55%. I also suspect that Voyage D'hermes has a big dollop of it, as well as a number of other fumes that you have reviewed, as well as there being a large number of fumes that have it in a lower dosage.
    The questions is: do you not recognise it when you smell it in other fumes, or do you just not mention it because it is a bit too much of a chemistry lesson? And when smelling something like Terre D'Hermes (55% Iso E Super)- what stops you saying that it is predominantly Iso E Super, and making that part of your critical opinion.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Love this question, because I didn't know my position on it until you asked me. While thinking about it, I'm smelling a blotter I've just sprayed with Voyage d'Hermes parfum (too much of good thing, methinks - this perfume wasn't particularly crying out for a more intense formulation).

      The thing about Iso E Super is that it's a good team player, a sort of cross between a bassline and a click track for the rest of the composition to organize itself around. Even if it is overdosed, it doesn't leap out painfully, unlike the sharp, powerfully radiant amber wood aromachemical Karanal, for instance. So there's no real critical position for me to take on the mere presence of Iso E Super in a perfume, any more than there would be for vanillin, say. It's a useful ingredient that works in its relevant contexts. But when people start ascribing mystical powers to Molecule 01, or repeat the rumor that it contains "pheromones", that's when I point out that they probably have been smelling like Molecule 01 for years through all their other perfumes and household functional fragrances.

      And now that you mention it, I guess I don't delve too deeply into the chemistry lesson side of things, because while I'm personally fascinated by that, my enjoyment in writing/talking perfume comes from verbalizing the effect of the finished juice (for the most part). But it really depends on the perfume, I suppose. If I were to do a video on Cool Water or Cashmere Mist or Light Blue, I'd certainly discuss Calone and Cashmaran and Ambrox, since they contribute to the distinctive character of those scents. And after pondering your question, if I could do it all over again, I'd probably throw an Iso E Super mention in my Terre d'Hermes video. But then again, there always seems to be much more to say than can fit in a three-minute video!

      These are my go-to blogs for aromachemical analyses:

      Perfume Shrine
      http://perfumeshrine.blogspot.co.uk/

      1000 Fragrances
      http://1000fragrances.blogspot.co.uk/

      Delete
  27. Damn! You've answered my question, but in a way that makes me think that the only way I can work out whether I agree or disagree with your assessment of the role and overall qualities of Iso E Super in fumes is for me to smell it in isolation to clearly identify it, and reach for that bottle of Molecule 01. I'm just going to have to bite that bullet, aren't I?

    I guess my point re the criticism of scent is that there are some fumes that I suspect are little more than Iso E super with a limited number of other ingredients (generally in the herbal/citrus range) to 'individualise' them, and that identifying them as being part of a genre is no different than identifying a fume as a fruity floral with a patchouli base.

    Granted there are fragrances where I think I can identify where it has a specific role within the whole fragrance- usually as a sort of spin doctor, smoothing out the expression of rougher elements.

    But there are also a lot where what I think is Iso E Super seems to be the fragrance.

    I guess its only when I have put that molecule O1 to my nose that I will know the truth...........

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah, you reminded me that I didn't address this point of yours:
      "...without having smelled it in isolation I think I'm starting to recognise Iso E Super in a lot of perfumes, and I have a feeling that an isolated smelling of it will mean a lessening of my enjoyment of other scents."

      Maybe, maybe not. There's always an argument to be made for knowledge diminishing the mystique and therefore the pleasure of a thing. But knowledge can also deepen the intrigue. I guess it just depends on how cliched and overplayed the use of Iso E Super becomes, and we were probably at the "cliched and overplayed" point as of 4 years ago.

      Delete
  28. Katie,
    Thanks so much for your reply. It's the first one that makes sense! I called 2 barneys stores and spoke to fragrance "specialists" who gave me that ridiculous claim that it reacts with your "pheromones" and is unique to every person. And one who literally said, "I'm a fragrance expert I dont need to try it, I know what it does." But honestly I get out of it exactly what you said, just a flat never ending tone of cedar. I knew the gimmick going in and heard people say it was one ingredient so I suppose the flatness didn't surprise me. I was just surprised that some people are so stumped by the woodsy smell. They say "it's so wonderful, but I can't describe it". Uhh let me help them out, it's woodsy like cedar. Which I should mention is not unpleasant in a cozy cabin, clothes in a trunk, sort of way. I guess it just isn't the amazing, wonderful uniquely transforming liquid that so many claim it is. I was so pleased to read that you said it is unwavering from person to person. Thanks so much for your response. Could I possibly trouble you to do a video review of the new Gucci Premiere. I'm planning to snap it up just as soon as it is in a holiday gift set (hopefully) if not I'll probably get it anyway... Either way, just have to say I love your witty reviews. I enjoy your opinions so much because you're so informative instead of just the usual ditzy girl who goes on to describe her fragrances as "sweet". Anyways, thank you! thank you! And I look forward to more of your reviews :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's so nice to hear, Kat - thanks for your appreciation!

      Delete
  29. I layered it today with Ormonde Jayne Woman and my collegue who never reacts to any of the stupendous creations I take turns to wear (I have many samples from the Malle collection) finally took notice and commented that I smell amazing and very sensual...!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A result! I think those OJ Woman/Man concoctions are pretty iso E-super'd up as it is, so Molecule 01 would a compatible element in the mix. (Molecule 01 creator Geza Schoen consults on Ormonde Jayne perfumes.)

      Delete
  30. I smelled this today with high expectations, and found it smelling very woody/cedar-y. I'm 18 and I tried it on and I felt like (even though I didn't think it smelled horrible) like it sucked the youth out of me. I can see myself wearing this maybe when I'm 25 or older, but definitely not now. Although Molecule 03 smelled more appropriate for me - it was like molecule 01 mixed with happy by clinique - citrusey, young and more electric and more sexy to me for my age.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry,correction - I meant Molecule 02, not 03 :)

      Delete
    2. "sucked the youth out of me" is such an emphatic reaction! Mol 02 is the aromachemical ambroxan, a warm, comforting, sensual smell based on an aspect of natural ambergris. It's a very easy-to-wear and pleasing-to-smell scent.

      Delete
  31. I am just a regular guy in his late 20's from London i ordered a sample of mol 01 and it is like no other scent i have smelled before. It is very mysterious as the scent comes and goes and lasts a long time but it is not over powering. I haven't had any comments from other people yet, i tend to wear L'Eau d'Issey (how would you rate this cologne)?! It's strange in a good way mol 01 is addictive in the sense that i find myself wanting to smell it alot of the time. I am not sure when to use it at work or social occasions?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Anonymous - you've just provided a great description of Molecule 01's behavior and appeal. Mol 01 is an easy fit for work and play, day or night.

      L'Eau d'Issey is a classic in its crisp, aquatic genre.

      Delete
  32. Sant Ritz is more than just a home. Its combination of condominium status with contemporary ville living.

    the interlace condo

    ReplyDelete