Molecule 01 is a sneaky fragrance and a triumph of marketing, though not in a negative way. It is marketed as a “radically minimalist” fragrance, one that changes based on the skin chemistry of the wearer. Even calling it a fragrance is somewhat of an overstretch, as it is more of a skin scent and an aura than a proper fragrance.
In terms of the value proposition…. Well, Molecule 01 has a single substantive ingredient (ISO-E Super) and is the most simple composition possible, if it is even reasonable to call it a composition. It would be a stretch to call it beautiful, though it does appear to attract both attention and compliments. Following the design philosophy of the company (and perhaps perfumer Geza Schoen), the fragrance might not necessarily be intended to smell beautiful.
Molecule 01 smells practical. In some ways this is a fragrance for the non-enthusiast, for the hater of perfume. Whatever the marketing, artistic it is not, but the wearer can be assured that they will smell pleasant, fashionable, and hyper-modern (futuristic might even be a better adjective). Unlike more substantive fragrances, it smells… well, insubstantial. Though ISO-E Super is a large molecule, the projection and sillage feels like it lacks a certain density. But that isn’t to say that this is a weak fragrance. One particular characteristic of ISO-E Super is that it quickly overwhelms the senses, leading to near-immediate olfactory fatigue even in relatively low doses.
You’ll have to try this on to see how it manifests on your skin. On mine, it smells clean, mineral, and immediately recognizable as a key component in Ellena’s Terre d’Hermes. There are facets of citrus (but not quite citrus), some freshly forged metal, and a wet, woody musk that remains clean throughout. It is not complex and it is not too simple, but it is incredibly distinctive. I like it, and so do those around me. Based on a few impressions offered by others, I have found that Molecule 01 is either nearly impossible to detect, or extremely strong. Yet in both cases it comes across as inoffensive and intriguing. What a mysterious substance!
Would I buy it?: Maybe. If I am ever in the market for a minimalist skin enhancer, this would be at the top of my list. It smells great and would be quite useful in almost any wardrobe. Due to its versatility, I suspect that I would often reach for the bottle.