Perfume Review: Molecule + by Escentric Molecules

I’ve always had an affection for Escentric Molecules as a brand. In particular, I appreciate how they’ve demystified perfume in ways that very few brands have. By offering up single materials alongside perfumes that explore those same materials in traditional compositions, Escentric Molecules (which is the brain child of perfumer Geza Schoen) has gone a long way to educate consumers about what they’re smelling. I like that – I get so tired of the bullshit in perfumery – of the mystery and magic marketed by brands who tell us their fragrances contain rare essences plucked from the butt cheeks of unicorns during a full moon….

Instead of cloak and dagger unicorn-related BS, Escentric Molecules presents something much more honest and authentic. It’s a straight talking brand from a perfumer who absolutely speaks his mind. So yes, it’s a brand I like and one that I find myself reaching for quite often, because not only are their fragrances intriguing (I love Escentric 04, 05 and Molecule 03 and 05, FYI) they’re also incredibly wearable.

If you don’t know the brand, you might still have heard of Molecule 01. This phenomenally successful fragrance, which outsells most fragrances in any store it is stocked, is simply one material diluted in alcohol. That material is Iso E Super, a warm, woody material that adds smoothness and depth when combined with other ingredients. The fact that Iso E Super plays so well with others is the inspiration for Molecule +, a new collection that explores how Iso E Super reacts when paired with another material, specifically a natural ingredient.

ISO E Super is the greatest soup. You can throw anything in and it still smells good

Gez Schoen

There are three fragrances in the collection; Molecule + Iris, Molecule + Mandarin and Molecule + Patchouli, and each showcases how Iso E Super brings out and elevates interesting facets of natural materials when blended into a perfume. What’s striking about these three perfumes, is just how Iso E Super brings out something unique in each – yes the naturals are vastly different from each other, not to mention multi-faceted themselves, but the effect of the molecular pairing varies massively across the range. Iris feels boosted by Iso E Super, becoming spacious, airy and tenacious, whilst Mandarin is made smoky and strange, and Patchouli is spun into soft, sparkling gold. It really is an exciting collection – so let’s dive right in!

Molecule + Iris

Let’s start with Molecule + Iris, because as Geza explained to us at the virtual launch, this was the starting point of the collection. Initially created for his girlfriend (who I think may be slightly annoyed that she now has to share the scent with the world – I know I would be!), Molecule + Iris is a fusion of Iso E Super and Iris Pallida, one of perfumery’s most expensive materials. Iris can be a funny thing, it can be earthy, vegetal, sweet, violety, and powdery, and in Molecule + Iris it is all these things, but where it differs is in its personality. Rather than grey and introspective, this iris is holographic and bouyant. It flies out of the bottle in a spritz of effervescence, presenting clean, musky and soft iris radiating with colour. The sillage is impressive, but it’s also diffusive and light, boasting a beautifully supple, cosmetic character that reminds me of Frederic Malle’s Creme Pour Les Mains au Beurre d’Iris. This is a wonderfully modern iris and I think it’s going to be the star of the collection.

Molecule + Mandarin

On the surface, Molecule + Mandarin feels like a perfectly fleshy and juicy citrus fragrance with excellent presence and longevity. It’s like mandarin presented in full 4k and that in itself is a great (and technically nifty) thing, but the fragrance doesn’t stop there and it contrasts all that mouthwatering freshness with an unusual strand of smokiness that runs right through its core. It’s almost as if richly-scented mandarin skin has been dried and lightly toasted, adding darkness and depth to the fizzy, juicy and soapy quality of the mandarin. My husband also wanted me to tell you that it made him think of orange puffs of smoke squeezed from juicy fruits (and I thought that was too good a description not to include). Roll on summer, please, because I would like to wear the absolute heck out of this..

Molecule + Patchouli

The big surprise for me was Molecule + Patchouli. So often patchouli-centric fragrances can be harsh, screechy and headache-inducing (at least for me, anyway) but not this one, no, this one is super soft and super smooth. The key here is Patchouli Coeur, a patchouli-oil fraction that removes the camphor top note, leaving a softer, cleaner impression and when that is blended with the supple warmth of ISO E Super, well, you get the patchouli equivalent of Jessie Ware lulling you into submission on a smooth disco track with her caramel-esque voice. Molecule + Patchouli smells like a clean, powdery patchouli fragrance with a sense of sparkle. It practically shimmers with a golden iridescence.

The Verdict

One could approach these with a touch of cynicism, thinking there isn’t much perfumery going on in fragrances that propose to be ISO E Super plus one natural material, but in truth, there is a lot more to them than that. These feel like fully-fledged perfumes, and I hedge a bet that they are, with each of the natural additions being an accord rather than just a slug of one material. They each have a distinct signature and vibe, and I picture Molecule + as a capsule wardrobe that gives one a wide enough range for any season, occasion, outfit or mood. Mandarin will be great in summer, Patchouli feels made for autumn and winter (it demands a chunky knit, let’s be real), and Iris is more of a statement for those days when you want, nay *demand*, to be noticed.

Above all, Molecule + reminds us that perfumery exists as fusion, where individual elements overlap to create something new and exciting. Each of these perfumes overlap with our own personalities, styles and tastes to take on new life. What will be created when you wear them? The possibilities are endless.


Each Molecule + fragrance is available in 100ml Eau de Parfum for £95.


Images are my own. Samples (full bottles x 3) were gifted by the brand for review. I was not paid to feature these products.