Phial and Error
It took 300 trials and a eureka moment to get to Escentric 04. But it was worth the wait, says Geza Schoen.

– Escentric 04 is the anti-Chanel No5. The story with No5 is that someone in the lab accidentally put in ten times too much aldehyde. And suddenly the fragrance clicked. With Escentric 04 it was the opposite. I started out with ten times too much Javanol.

– I did around 100 trials of E04 and couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Then it struck me out of the blue: ‘it’s the Javanol, it’s blocking my fragrance’. I started to reduce it dramatically, experimenting with 50, 40, 30 parts per thousand of the formula. I discovered that 25-30 parts, ie. 3% is the sweet spot for this molecule. With the Javanol at that level, the fragrance started to bloom.

“Most of our molecules are not from planet earth. They are the creation of some mad scientist trying to find the next cool smell.”

– Most of our molecules are not from planet Earth. They are the creation of some mad scientist trying to find the next cool smell. Javanol was born in a lab at Givaudan where they have a particular genius for sandalwood-type molecules. It has all the things about sandalwood that I love, like its creamy radiance, and none of its less attractive aspects, like sweaty notes.

– The Escentric fragrance is always an ode to the molecule in Molecule. It’s that simplicity again. Smell the molecule in Molecule, and it will tell you how to make Escentric. When I smell the 04 molecule, Javanol, I detect a rosy note and a grapefruit note in there. This makes it super-interesting. Most molecules aren’t like this. They are more linear.

– Molecule 04 gave me the structure for Escentric 04. Sandalwood, grapefruit, rose: these three notes define the space in which Escentric 04 grew. So for the base I took the sandalwood aspect and expanded it with Iso E Super, ambroxan, a little vetiver. The rose is not a huge part of E04, but it’s there. The grapefruit is the one I ramped up. And I added things to play with its freshness: pink pepper, juniper, and a molecule that is known for its herbal marijuana aroma.

– The way I smell Javanol is subjective. Other perfumers might have a totally different impression that did not include a grapefruit accent. It’s like colours. We have no idea if the person standing next to us perceives yellow the same way we do.

– Once I figured out the Javanol, I did another 200 trials. Not that that tells you anything. Longer isn’t necessarily better, it just worked out that this one took a while. One year. 32 bases, 300 trials. And a very cool molecule.

Escentric 04 and Molecule 04 are now available in store.