Radical plus 1: a creative tour de force by the master of reduction

You know something is truly creative if you’re knocked off your feet by it, even as a fragrance pro at will be a brand. Molecule + knocked me off my feet and captivated me from the word go. The concept is spot on and the fragrances are – as one would expect – absolutely beguiling. 

Sometimes it’s the simplest ideas that yield the best results – and, at the same time, coming up with an idea that is sublimely simple is supremely difficult. In fact, it takes incredible skill to reduce things intelligently and compellingly. Geza Schön has this skill in spades, as he has shown time and time again with his fragrance creations – and with Molecule + he has surpassed himself:

1) The Molecule + fragrances follow a clear concept – and that has always been one of the strengths of Escentric Molecules. A concept like this makes it easier to access a fragrance, it allows us to penetrate to the heart. This is an advantage not only for fragrance lovers, but also for the people who sell and recommend fragrances – our retail partners. 

For M+, Geza Schön has combined the legendary Molecule 01, which is a fragrance based on pure synthetic Iso E Super, developed in 1973 by IFF – which just happens to be the year I was born – in three iterations, each with a singular natural olfactoric element: Mandarin, Patchouli and Iris. The simplicity of Iso E Super meets the complexity of a natural scent element – an encounter perfume creator Geza Schön describes as a “dance of molecules”. Each of the three fragrances is an olfactory pas de deux, to stick with the dance metaphor. These new creations add a plus to the fragrance revolution.

2) The M+ fragrances are radical, and they are also the next step in the fragrance revolution – with a plus, one which harmoniously integrates them in the overall concept of Escentric Molecules. Molecule 01 + 1 is the name of the formula – and where else would this concept have been conceivable or executed so flawlessly? This new concept is driven by radical creativity and incredible skill: “Only naturals have the complexity and radiance to work in a dance of two like this, while maintaining the simplicity of the concept”, says Geza Schön. Blending an abstract synthetic element with natural scent ingredients is daring and bold. The result is something completely new.

3) M+ plays with the structure and the perception of fragrance. With Molecule, Geza Schön relegated the fragrance pyramid to obsolescence – and with Escentric he filled it with life. Geza Schön explains that M+ is a “new way of composing fragrances”, based on the interaction between two elements. Due to  its unique character and scent properties, each olfactoric element that meets Iso E Super triggers an effect that mimics levels of the fragrance pyramid. The fresh, juicy mandarin on Molecule 01 + Mandarin feels like a top note that gradually fades. Precious iris absolute in Molecule 01 + Iris develops slowly and intensely like a heart note. And the patchouli in Molecule 01 + Patchouli, which harmonises so perfectly with Molecule 01, lingers wonderfully as a base note.

In essence: M+ is a perfumery masterpiece, a bold continuation of Schön’s fragrance revolution. M+ gives us three new, magnificent gems – which I think are already undoubtedly among the most outstanding creations of this year. Just like Escentric 05, Geza Schön’s most personal fragrance to date, the new M+ series shows us more of the person behind the creation, because without the input of Schön’s partner Sophie this fragrance series would probably not have seen the light of day. For me, this combination of skill and personality opens up a whole new olfactory dimension.

A cinematic olfactory experience

With his latest fragrance line Escentric Molecules 05, Geza Schön has – yet again – landed a stunning coup. The fragrance quenches our eternal longing for summer – and now it can do that in the shower, too! The wonderful scent of Escentric 05 now features in a new Body Wash

The key note is the complex molecule Cashmeran – soft and cocooning, aromatically woody, sweetly resinous. This molecule is accompanied by typical Mediterranean scents, such as bergamot, orange, rosemary and a hint of fig.

I may have mentioned previously that I am a massive fan of extending fragrances by adding good products to the line. Although you may think that a shower gel is a very nice, but essentially functional product, in fact the Body Washes actually let you physically experience the glorious scent.   

This is particularly true for Escentric Molecules 05 and its underlying story. For me, this is Geza Schön’s most personal creation, inspired directly by his life: 05 sums up the fragrances that accompany Geza in summer, walking from the coast of Mallorca up to his cottage in the mountains, along the same path used by the ancient Romans thousands of years ago. This historic trail passes through ancient forests, past fragrant herbs, flowers and a fig tree, all enveloped by the breezy tang of the sea.

Treat yourself to a shower with this Body Wash or use it as a bath soak and you’ll be bringing the scents of a Mediterranean summer straight to your bathroom. Close your eyes, inhale – and find yourself on a warm, summer beach …

Escentric Molecules 05 is fragrant poetry and a cinematic vision in a bottle. It is inspiring, a pleasure for the senses and it stimulates the imagination. What better thing could be said of a fragrance?

Ring the changes

The absolutely brilliant Atelier PMP from Hamburg is one of those brands that take a concept-driven, cerebral approach to perfume art. Each fragrance is created around an idea; it tells a story and has a message. Even the names conjure up the most fabulous olfactory images – like Dreckig bleiben (stay dirty) or Concrete Flower. anti anti plays with the idea of being against “being against”, i.e. being for something, which is perfect in our book and a heartening approach to life. The message of the Combinism line is a call to society to join forces and embrace otherness – and it offers a handy blueprint on how to go about this: two fragrances – each a beautiful composition in its own right – can be combined to form an olfactory vision of empathetic togetherness called EmpaTopia. In another beguiling spin on a concept, ŌN and GESCHÖPF span a wide, alluringly fragrant arch from the individual to the world.

The two minds behind Atelier PMP, designer and artist Stefanie Mayr and creative brand maker Daniel Plettenberg, are always probing boundaries and mining change, as can be seen in their latest move: a packaging redesign which gives all the fragrances the same visual signature. The new outfit is purist, modern, subtle and yet still manages to give each scent an unmistakable look. What unites them is the classic, crystal-clear shape of the bottles; what distinguishes them is the typography of the name, which shines both on the bottle and on the elegant, matte black packaging  (forgive me if I’m repeating myself here, but the outer packaging is crucial as it protects the exquisite contents from daylight or artificial light). I instantly fell for the new design. It enhances brand recognition, it sums up what the brand is all about and it puts the fragrance and its name firmly at the centre of the stage. The new packaging reveals the unity in diversity, the diversity in unity – and that’s a strong message we should all embrace!  

Need some good advice?

A fragrance is a lot like a relationship: you can just leave things to chance and perhaps get lucky – or you can let yourself be beguiled, led and, finally, seduced. Applied to perfume, we call this a fragrance consultation, and it is a pleasure you should really treat yourself to!

If you’re not familiar with the fragrance world and want some unbiased advice in your search for “your” perfume, then a fragrance consultation is ideal. But even if you know your own preferences, you should still consider a consultation as it can often open up new, unexpected ideas and perspectives.

The key ingredient in a good consultation is a skilled consultant. At will be a brand we always provide special training folders for the products we sell. Good consultants have profound knowledge and expertise in fragrances, they are familiar with the ingredients, the quality and, of course, the story behind each fragrance. In perfumery art more than perhaps in any other field, there’s often an inspiring story, idea or brilliant concept behind the actual scent. For example, The Beautiful Mind Series, Geschöpf or Escentric Molecules. Sometimes the application needs to be explained: with COMBINISM, for example, you can combine two separate fragrances.

A good fragrance consultant has the necessary instinct to sense what the customer needs. Appearances – for instance, what the customer is wearing or what car happens to be parked outside the shop – don’t count.  A skilled consultant will ask what the person’s favourite season is, what they do in their leisure time and what places are special for them. These are important pointers for what makes a person tick and which fragrance will match their personality, their life – or even “just” a special occasion.  

A successful consultation should never overburden the nose: class, not mass is the guiding principle. Four or five perfumes are more than enough; an artisan perfume is not something you pick up like a loaf of bread. Mornings are a good time for a consultation because the olfactory senses are still fresh. You should always dab your final choices on your wrist to allow the fragrance to develop on the skin and then, most importantly, take a walk around the block. Occasionally, you may get a surprise but it will almost always lead to a better, more informed decision.   

Whatever you do, don’t be afraid to ask! Sales consultants in perfume shops are passionate about what they do and love nothing better than applying all their skills to find the perfect match. What really makes them happy is seeing a customer blissfully leaving the shop with a new fragrance.

So, in conclusion: a fragrance consultation is a true pleasure. It can open the doorway to incredibly beautiful fragrances which you might never have discovered on your own and without unbiased advice.

2020: the summer of Escentric Molecules 05

There’s one aspect of perfumery art that rarely receives the recognition it deserves, namely the fact that it offers years of consistent creativity at the highest level. In other words: there are no flops that vanish from the market as fast as they are launched. Perfumery art delivers the classic fragrances of the future – and Escentric Molecules is one of the very best examples.

The label was founded in 2005, and in spring 2020 it will launch Molecule 05 and Escentric 05 – the latest fragrances in an incredible series. It goes without saying that Geza Schön has remained true to his fundamental concept: Molecule uses a single molecule, pure and undiluted; Escentric is a composition based on the hero molecule, which in this case is Cashmeran.

Geza Schön describes Cashmeran as “the abstraction of a hot summer on a Mediterranean island”. But as well as this wonderfully graphic description, 05 also pays homage to modern synthetic perfumery. The molecule was developed at the end of the 1970s by IFF. Cashmeran has an unusually complex and rich character. It combines a cocooning, musky softness with a dry, aromatic woodiness and a sweet and resinous pine note. Cashmeran has the star quality to shine as the main component in a fragrance – as Schön has shown with Molecule 05.

Cashmeran also plays the lead role in Escentric 05. Schön wanted to create a different kind of summer fragrance – and, as one would expect, it is far removed from the mainstream. For starters, it lacks the typical oceanic, marine notes, which he finds too artificial. He was inspired by a walk on a hot afternoon, up from the sea – and past aromatic Mediterranean herbs, shrubs, woods and orange groves. Accordingly, in 05, the olfactory journey takes you from bergamot and orange, through laurel, rosemary and other ingredients until you reach the Cashmeran and its piney warmth. It is a deeply sensuous journey that lingers on.

Escentric Molecules 05, which launches in spring, makes me yearn for summer – although it goes without saying that you can wear it at any time of year. This is no olfactory one-hit wonder for 2020. Instead it has a great future as one of tomorrow’s classic fragrances.

Of life and the art of being oneself

Occasionally the very highest perfumery standards and fundamental ideological standpoints converge. Like Combinism with EmpaTopia – or GESCHÖPF, another fragrance created by Atelier PMP.

Behind the evocative name lies a very simple concept: everything is creation, we are all a part of it. Everyone is a creature – no matter what your gender is, where you come from, what you look like. GESCHÖPF sums up this principle and is an affectionate and bold homage to being yourself.

This is not “unisex” taken to its logical conclusion – it goes far beyond that. It’s about equality without making everyone the same: we are all created of the same substance, with equal rights, of equal value and importance. At the same time, it’s about individuality, because each and every creature is different.

This is a message I can completely get on board with – and even if it’s not your personal cup of tea, perhaps this magnificent composition may inspire you to consider it. Perfumers Mark Buxton and David Chieze have created an exquisite and subtle fragrance which, as they put it, “oscillates between a deep, clear truth, the freshness of figs, heat and incense.” For me, it’s a fine, elegant and deeply captivating fragrance.

The same applies to ŌN by Atelier PMP. The name comes from the Greek prefix ón , which means ‘being’, and  it describes everything  that exists – everything that has been and everything that will be, not just material objects, but also dreams, hopes, ideas and creativity.

Everything that exists, in a perfume? It may sound far-fetched, but ŌN unites sensual ingredients used around the world to tap into the conscious self – from incense to amber and from labdanum to marijuana. Despite these “weighty” ingredients, ŌN is not heavy, in fact it’s a light, subtle fragrance – and a wonderful creation for the here and now.

Upgrade your home

In 2017, roughly 790,000 tons of candles were sold in Europe – which is probably a new record. I don’t know how many of those candles were scented candles, but figures for 2018 published by the industry association show that this segment is on fire, if you’ll pardon the pun. At the beginning of the year I read an article about “the strange boom in scented candles”. But why strange? There are – and especially in the U.S. – many small start-ups that have pushed onto the market with a “traditional” product like fragranced candles and have been exceptionally successful. The power of images seems to play a key role in driving these sales. Lovely, aspirational images on Instagram of these candles in influencers’ homes obviously make others want to buy into the trend.

For me, what counts more than pretty pictures are exclusive scents – and that brings us straight to URBAN SCENTS, who have some truly exquisite scented candles. The Berlin-based luxury label shows just how sensuous, aesthetic and modern scented candles can be. The ingredients are produced in Grasse by an artisan manufacturer, guaranteeing the very highest quality. The compositions and fragrance moods created by Marie Urban-Le Febvre elevate the rooms they scent to create an exquisite atmosphere. A scented candle by URBAN SCENTS is a real upgrade for any home – and not just in winter.

It’ll come as no surprise to learn that URBAN SCENTS candles also look the part: the candles are encased in heavy blue glass holders inspired by the bottles used for the fragrances. Like the bottles, they are hand-made in France. If you ask me, the results are more than Instagrammable – with the only drawback being that you don’t get to smell the fabulous scent.

ART AS AN EXPERIENCE FOR THE NOSE

“I fundamentally see beauty as being a moment in time”. For fashion designer Matthew Miller, beauty is a brief fleeting moment, so I am particularly pleased that the perfume label Verdúu has decided to honour the British designer with a fragrance. For me this is a very apt philosophy, as the idea of transience lies at the heart of every perfume. The fact that the designer sees fashion as a product adds an intriguing angle. 

Matthew Miller – the winner of the renowned Woolmark Prize 2017/18 – is the fifth young designer Verdúu has picked to feature on their olfactory catwalk. Like the other scents, the nose behind this wonderful composition is Mark Buxton, and as usual he brilliantly interprets the creative world of the fashion designer. The inspiration for the fragrance comes from the world of art: “Art is fundamental to design”, Matthew Miller once said. And that is why his fragrance has all the notes of an opening at a high-class art gallery: art as an olfactory experience – beauty captured in an unusual moment.

All of Verdúu’s fashion fragrances are available only in small 15ml bottles. This is such a brilliant idea, because it allows you to compile a small but exquisite “perfume library” and pick your “it” piece to match your mood and the season.

Stay dirty is the new scrubbing up

“Dreckig bleiben” (Stay Dirty) was the first fragrance launched by the Hamburg-based independent label Atelier PMP, and it was an unprecedented success. This sensational fragrance, created by master perfumer Mark Buxton, recently was honoured with a 4-star listing in Luca Turin’s “Perfume Bible”.

Provocative as the name is, you shouldn’t take it too seriously: only recently the label launched a matching line of bath and shower products, with a Liquid Soap and Shower Gel. I am a massive fan of line extensions, not least because they give perfume fanatics even more ways of wearing a favourite fragrance. Products like these also make it easier for people who may be nervous about experimenting with unusual, daring perfumes to dip a toe in the water, as it were: a shower gel has a lower accessibility threshold than an eau de parfum. I sincerely hope that the new Liquid Soap and Shower Gel – both of which are free from parabens, silicone, gluten and contain no animal products, making them fully vegan-friendly – inspires more people to try these fragrances and incorporate them in their everyday life.

Liquid Soap and Shower Gel feature the same bold woody notes with cedar, Guajac wood oil and sandalwood in the base collide with a surprising accord of Calabrian bergamot, Tunisian neroli oil, Sicilian mandarin and zingy fresh ginger for a pleasantly refreshing effect.

“Stay dirty means hanging out with your best friends around a bonfire by the riverside in your comfy sweatpants – your toes in the sand and a glass of wine in your hand”, Daniel Plettenberg of Atelier PMP once said. And what better way of extending that incomparable feeling than jumping under the shower, rinsing the sand from between your toes and breathing in the lingering scent of this relaxed lifestyle.