Feature
Fragrance

Weird Science

Putting the complex chemistry of modern perfumery under the microscope

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While we love a stunning floral absolute, 21st century fragrance houses are now recognising the central role played by synthetic molecules. Meet some of the aroma chemicals that invite us to embrace olfactory abstraction and the technical genius of perfumery.

Aether | MuskethanolAether’s creative director Nicolas Chabot is ripping up the
 glamour rule book. Having recently revived Le Galion, one of perfumery’s most celebrated heritage houses, he is now taking fragrance towards the future. Muskethanol is an exploration of the alchemical process – the scent’s starting point was the notion of pouring sand into alcohol. Instead of the promise of roses more traditional to perfumery, there is Damascenone, one of the constituent parts of the flower, which here lends a boozy, plummy opening. A cocktail of synthetic musks brings fuzziness and subtlety for an elusive yet familiar skin scent.
Aether Muskethanol Eau de Parfum 100ml, £150

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"Creamy or abrasive, sensitive or brash, vulgar or refined."

Persolaise.com loves rose

Escentric Molecules | Molecule 03Molecule 01 from Escentric Molecules is the scent that defines
the times. But the house’s lesser-known Molecule 03 makes singular use of an equally intriguing and addictive-smelling aroma chemical extracted from natural vetiver: vetiveryl acetate. Shifting between earth, decaying leaves, grapefruit, nuttiness and smoke, the vetiver scent confirms that a simple formulation doesn’t make for a one-note smell, but can be just as nuanced to our brains as a complex construction.
Escentric Molecules Molecule 03 Eau de Toilette 100ml, £72

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Maison Francis Kurkdjian | Baccarat Rouge 540Luxury perfumes traditionally convey their preciousness via liberal use of costly
 natural materials. But in his celebrated scent for Baccarat, perfumer Francis Kurkdjian shared with openness a formula comprising nearly all synthetics, through which he explored the contradictions within crystal: glitteringly cool yet forged using intense heat; pellucid yet heavy. Baccarat Rouge 540 features an oakmoss-smelling material called Evernyl for minerality, the power and endurance of Ambroxan to bring energy, and for fire, the burnt toffee of Ethyl Maltol with fir balsam.
Maison Francis Kurkdjian Baccarat Rouge 540 Eau de Parfum 70ml, £195

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“Like walking into an ancient temple. I'll add the essential oil to tea.”

Nick Gilbert of Lovetosmell.co.uk loves frankincense
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