Molecule + was an idea waiting to happen. It’s such a natural evolution of our Molecule fragrances I can’t believe I didn’t think of it till now. It all began when my partner, Sophie, asked me to make a fragrance just for her. I had noticed that every time Sophie said she loved a perfume, it had iris in it. Iris is a subtle note, one that perfumers love for its powdery elegance and smooth sense of body. But it’s always in the background and most people would not be able to identify it in a perfume.
I thought it would be great to smell iris naked for a change. So I started minimal. I took the best quality iris absolue and added a chunk of Iso E Super – our Molecule 01. I figured that because Iso E is so sexy it would play beautifully against the elegance of the iris. And when I smelt the result, I realised I should stop right there . It was like they were made for each other. To add anything more would be to take away from their interplay.
“because Molecule 01 is so sexy I figured it would play beautifully against the elegance of the iris”
That’s when I realised that this could be a series, a whole new way of making a fragrance. Our Molecules are the most minimal fragrances possible. Each is composed of just one aroma-molecule. When we launched Molecule 01 we had no idea it was going to be this mega-success. It was so radically unlike anything else. Some people in the industry were outraged that we had the nerve to launch a molecule in a bottle. To those conformists I can only say, ‘sorry guys but we just broke the rules again’.
“sorry guys but we just broke the rules again”
Molecule + is the next step on from the total minimalism of the Molecules. It’s neither one molecule in a bottle like our Molecule fragrances, nor is it a complex fragrance with top middle and base notes like our Escentric fragrances. It’s a whole new way of composing a fragrance that's all about the interplay of two elements. In each Molecule +, one fragrance note dances alone with Iso E Super, the unique molecule that is Molecule 01. Molecule + is a dance of 2. The 3 iterations are: Molecule + Mandarin, Molecule + Iris and Molecule + Patchouli. And there’s a structure to these choices. Mandarin is a top note, Iris a heart note, and Patchouli is a base note. Each of these 3 fragrance notes is a natural. I wanted the simplicity of Molecule 01 to play against the complexity of a natural.
“if you want a massive chunk of Molecule 01 on your neck but you also want it to play against something else, Molecule + is for you”
With Molecule + Iris I’ve used one of the most expensive ingredients at a concentration no perfumer in the industry would be permitted to use in his wildest dreams. That’s what’s so great about being totally in charge of your own creative process. You can do what you want. The iris absolue pallida in Molecule + Iris costs 45,000€ a kilo. It’s worth every cent. I should point out that iris or orris (its more traditional name) is not extracted from the iris flower. It comes from the rhizome (root) of the plant, and has to be stored for several years for the scent to develop. Sometimes the rhizome is processed using steam distillation, but I prefer an absolue produced by a CO2 extraction as this means the iris doesn’t become ‘cooked’ by the heat of the steam. CO2 is the finest solvent for creating an iris that's the closest to the natural substance.
“Molecule + is a dance of 2”
Molecule + Iris is a paradox; it’s an explosion, but it’s a subtlety-explosion, a quiet storm. The Iso E Super gives the iris an incredible radiance. From the moment Sophie started wearing it I could smell traces of her scent on the stairs to our apartment, in the elevator, even on the street outside. And people were falling over themselves to get close to her, asking what her scent was. It’s so beautiful: this smooth, feminine cashmere mist. You just want to inhale it and inhale it till you fill your whole body with it.
“you just want to inhale it and inhale it till you fill your whole body with it”
I quickly saw the potential for other iterations of Molecule +. All the + fragrance note has to do is create great chemistry with Molecule 01. Patchouli is a powerhouse machine already. Put it with Iso E Super and it’s a super-bomb. I love its fresh, woody, earthy scent. But the topnote in patchouli can feel medicinal. That’s why I chose Patchouli Coeur which is a natural patchouli where the top note has been stripped out so it has a lighter and more sophisticated scent-profile. But then I realised that the fragrance needed a little bit of top note, so I added an Indonesian patchouli where the topnote is intact. Perfumery is all about proportion, and just a little of that borneol and camphor topnote gives Molecule + Patchouli a lift.
Molecule + Patchouli comes with an inbuilt emotional kick. Nearly all of us have a connection to patchouli, because it’s an element in so many masculine fragrances out there. Your Dad, your boyfriend, your brother, it’s likely that if they wore fragrance, it contained patchouli, and that means it’s embedded in your emotive memory. At the same time, this is patchouli as you’ve never smelt it before: naked on a bed of Iso E Super.
“patchouli as you’ve never smelt it before, naked on a bed of Iso E Super”
Molecule + Mandarin is so fresh and punchy it boings out of the bottle. It has that instant almost aggressive tropicalness of a mandarin when you stick your fingernails right into the peel and rip. I knew I wanted Molecule 01 to play against a citrus for the topnote iteration of Molecule + because of that child-like happiness we feel when we smell an orange or a lemon. But lemon is too straightforward for a dance of two, orange too sweet for me, bergamot is great but it’s in everything. I decided on mandarin because it's the most nuanced of the citrus fruits. It’s fruity, fresh and aromatic with just the right amount of sweetness. And in Molecule + Mandarin its so yummy you feel like drinking it.
So if you love Molecule 01 and want a massive chunk of it on your neck, but you also want it to play against something else then Molecule + is for you. To be honest, Sophie is not thrilled that Molecule + Iris is no longer solely her personal fragrance. I put my heart and soul into creating Molecule + Iris for her but what can I say? It’s just too good to stay exclusive to one person… even Sophie.