Molecular Mystery

When she first sniffed Molecule 01, Daniela Rinaldi could smell nothing – “I mean nothing at all”. So how did the Harvey Nichols beauty supremo end up wearing it every day for the last eleven years?

Molecular Mystery

– I didn’t get Molecule 01 right away. In fact when fashion journalist, Tim Blanks, said it wasn’t a perfume, it was a molecule. I thought: ‘A what?” It was so new it hadn’t launched yet. I invited the Escentric guys to show it to me and they came to the store and spritzed me with Molecule 01. I sniffed my wrist and smelt nothing.

– I mean nothing at all. I looked up and saw these two guys waxing lyrical about this incredible smell over the back of my hand, and I thought, ‘have they lost it?’ I even wondered if they had handed me a factice by mistake.

– And then there was the design of it. The cap was missing. Missing! As if it had rolled away under a table. This at a time when the caps from houses like Chanel were engineered to close with the click of a Rolls Royce door. At Harvey Nichols we specialise in the superluxe. And this was beyond minimal – a single molecule in a capless bottle that as far as I could tell didn’t even have a smell.

This was beyond minimal – a single molecule in a capless bottle that as far as I could tell didn’t even have a smell.

– I thought, how am I going to let these guys down gently? Because there’s no way I can stock this Emperor’s New Clothes fragrance. I left the office racking my brains over it, and the first thing I did was get into a black cab.

– We were driving along when the taxi driver said “You smell gorgeous, love. What are you wearing?” I thought, ‘that’s a bit odd. All I’ve got on is that Molecule thing.” He went on about it for the whole journey. I told him it was something that wasn’t available and probably never would be.

– Then I got on my train and a man leaned across and murmured, “Excuse me but I just have to tell you, you smell amazing.” At this point, I could feel the hairs beginning to stand up on the back of my neck. Then I got on my second train, and this time it was a woman. She tapped me on the shoulder and said would I mind telling her what my fragrance was. In all my years as Beauty Director, nothing like this had ever happened. I went into the office next morning and placed the biggest order they could handle.

I told him it was something that wasn’t available and probably never would be.

– Molecule 01 doesn’t smell like anything else out there. As I finally realised the morning after my first encounter. I brushed past the cashmere scarf I had been wearing the day before and caught a wave of this otherworldy velvety scent. And then it vanished. I love that, that you catch Molecule 01 in passing. I love the mystery of it.

– We launched it exclusively at Harvey Nichols with a Private Dinner and the Escentric guys invited their friends, a great bunch of people from Christopher Bailey to Siouxsie Sioux to Janet Street-Porter. We knew that everyone who came into contact with one of those people would have to know what fragrance they were wearing, and more importantly, where they could get a bottle themselves.

In all my years as beauty director, nothing like this had ever happened.

– Even so, the demand caught us completely unaware. We had a waiting list at Harvey Nichols for Molecule 01. They couldn’t manufacture it quickly enough. Today it is still our number one best selling fragrance.

– Whoever you are, you cannot help but be hypnotised by someone wearing this fragrance. That’s the Escentric Molecules USP. I wear Molecule 01 every day and every day I get followed down the street and asked what my scent is. I have a bottle at home, another on my desk at my office and a mini in my handbag. I am always bathed in Molecule 01.

– Escentric Molecules is like a special club. The fact that its distribution is limited to only the very best doors globally means its audience has been limited. It’s the equivalent of a Bottega Veneta handbag with that beautiful intrecciato leather. You need to be in the know to recognize that. It’s the same with M01.

Daniela Rinaldi is Group Commercial Director at Harvey Nichols