Who: Geza Schoen, perfumer. You may not have heard of Geza, but chances are you will know his most famous fragrance brand, Escentric Molecules, which turned the way we think about fragrance ingredients upside down when it launched in 2006. Molecule 01 contains just Iso E Super, a commonly used chemical in fragrance with a velvety, woody note. Its companion Escentric 01 uses Iso E Super at 65% concentration, with additional complimentary ingredients added to create a more traditional ‘perfume’. The collection is still the best seller in many beauty halls around the globe, and has expanded to celebrate three additional ‘molecules’. Geza also creates fragrances for many well known brands and we are big fans of his The Beautiful Mind Series, which celebrate creative and intelligent women.
Today I’m wearing no fragrance, I just used a deodorant stick, Eau Sauvage. I have a huge collection of old fashioned deodorant sticks at home, and that’s as far as it goes with my fragrance experience in the mornings. I don’t wear fragrance in the week because I can’t wear something then see the subtle differences in my work.
At the weekends I wear what I’m working on for myself. At the moment I’m wearing Ginger Man, something I’ve been working on for a year now, because International Flavours and Fragrances, whose palate I use, has this amazing ginger oil which is really far out and the best ginger quality I’ve ever smelled. So I’ve made myself a nice fresh, sexy, ginger fragrance for weekends.
I don’t look at costs when it’s just for me so I use hideously expensive materials which help to make it even better, so there’s real orris in there which costs a fortune and the ginger oil is also expensive. It’s a mix of modern and old fashioned because its quite animalic – dirty and leathery in the dry down – but then we have this amazing crisp, peppery, fresh, gingery thing in the top notes.
I’m also quite happy not to smell of anything, if I leave the house at the weekend and forget, it’s not a worry for me.
Scent and odour is stunningly important. I find scent much more important than hearing. That classic ‘which one of the five senses would you give up’ question? I’d give up my ears, they could go!
We only live visually these days, we constantly look at the phone, the screen and for example when you go to the supermarket you look at the expiry date rather than sniffing it to judge for yourself if it’s safe to eat. There’s no wild animals around any more where you’d need to smell them before you saw them to stay safe, so we live by our eyes.
Smell is an emotion and we like to control our emotions. We’ve all had bad emotional experiences and we don’t like that, we want to keep things rationally under control and smell isn’t that at all, it scares most people! My little two year old daughter Anna, who is very adorable, has a fantastic smell, her hair smells amazing even if she hasn’t washed it for ages and it brings me to tears, there’s this naivety and innocence within that smell.
Fragrance isn’t a magic potion. It would be a bit far fetched to claim that you could create a fragrance that changed your emotion, that would make me a bit like a wizard. It’s not as simple as that. Yes, it has an effect on your emotion. Yes, it is mood enhancing and makes us more receptive to things, but all in small dosages. At the end of the day the influence is small, you can’t just make everybody super-happy, there’s more to it than this.
The Beautiful Mind Series is 100% a feminist female fragrance range. The idea of TBMS was a reaction to Paris Hilton’s first fragrance, I couldn’t stand that she’d made a fragrance, I found her thoughtless approach unbearable. I wanted to do exactly the opposite and feature a smart woman, somebody who was successful and strong. I found the memory grandmaster Christiane Stenger to work with on Volume 1, Intelligence & Fantasy, and world renowned classical ballerina Polina Semionova for Volume 2 Precision & Grace. They are both amazing women.
The thing I’m most proud of is the conceptual approach to Escentric Molecules because it’s really different and I like that we don’t have just the Molecule, but also the Escentrics, which are an homage to the molecule. New concepts in perfumery are rare, and Escentric Molecules worked because of word of mouth. That’s how it became successful, because it smells better than others! That’s how good fragrances make it to the top, it’s about substance.
I don’t scent my home because my lab is in my home and I just have to open the door once and that’s enough fragrance for the rest of the flat. I like it when we cook, which is every night, because I love the smell of food, of onions and garlic and fish and meat and all the rest of it, so it’s great if the flat smells of food, wonderful!