Meet The Founder

We Chat To Globally-Renowned Perfumer Geza Schoen

Escentric Molecules The Beautiful Mind Series Geza Schoen

To celebrate the launch of {The Beautiful Mind Series} – two compelling new fragrances from Geza Schoen (the nose behind Escentric Molecules and Boudicca) – in collaboration with two phenomenally inspiring women; Christiane Stenger – the youngest ever Grandmaster of Memory (a title for which entrants are challenged to memorise 1000 random digits in an hour and the order of a deck of cards in just two minutes), and internationally-fêted ballet dancer Polina Semianova – we pitched some questions to this world-renowned perfumer.

{Cult Beauty} Perfumery is a fascinating blend of art and science. How did your interest in perfume begin, and what prompted your to follow such an unpredictable career path?

{Geza Schoen} I started as a collector – hoarding men’s fragrance samples from as young as thirteen. It was an interest that developed into a fixation, and quickly became a quest to create the ‘perfect’ perfume.

{CB} Do you think the ability to create good scents is something you can learn? Or is knowing which notes work together an instinctive gift?

{GS} It is a combination of experience and the willingness to try, try and try again – you can’t be afraid of disappointment. What seems like a mind-blowingly brilliant idea, might not translate into a fabulous fragrance. Of course, there are lessons and guidelines – understanding the harmonies of certain accords and ingredients – but often, as in life, the most exciting things happen when you throw away the rule book.

{CB} What is the story behind the famous {Molecule 01}? How did it come into being?

{GS} I gave {Molecule 01} to a friend of mine in 1990. It was one of those experiments I thought could be something or nothing. We went together to a bar, and within ten minutes, my friend was approached by a woman demanding to know who smelled so incredible. I was staggered – it had worked. Here was a person inundating us with compliments, because of just one lone aroma molecule – it was a ‘thumb bite’ to traditional perfumery doctrine.


The Beautiful Mind Series

{CB} We are so thrilled to be launching {The Beautiful Mind Series}. Which came first, the concept or the scent? As in, do you create for a specific brief, or do you develop a fragrance through a different process?

{GS} {The Beautiful Mind Series} was a reaction to the mindless, mass-manufactured ‘celebrity’ fragrances flooding the market. I felt like enough was enough, and wanted to celebrate a woman with real skill, rather than one of these ‘it’ girls, adored for their hair, or their shoes or their handbags. Christiane Stenger was the perfect muse – a person with a phenomenal mind, who exercised the power of her brain to remember the most minute details. She can memorise literally anything using remarkably simple methods, and TBMS {Volume 1} is a tribute to her dazzling mental agility.

{CB} The beauty industry celebrates such a myopic representation of what constitutes ‘beautiful’ in a woman. It’s so refreshing that your inspiration for something so traditionally associated with sexual allure, is the concept of female achievement and talent. How did you set about evoking the scents of ‘intelligence’, ‘grace’ and ‘precision’?

{GS} It’s all about creating links, and layers between notes – a bit like neural impulses. To ‘remember’, for example, Christiane creates stories – conjuring fantastic mental images, to signpost her memory journey. The more intricate and multi-facteted the ‘story’, the more key words and images she can encapsulate. I employed a similar technique when selecting the notes, choosing accords which resonated as a whole, but also evolved to reveal their individual identity.

{CB} The more we think about fragrance, the more similarities we see between perfumery and the wine trade. Do you find oenology interesting too? What are your other hobbies?

{GS} I find wine tasting fascinating – I’m automatically enthralled by anything that touches my senses in a new way. And apart from that… you know, I appreciate art… and football.


Verity Douglas

Verity Douglas

Content Editor

Verity is our Content Editor and a Cult Beauty veteran. Currently on maternity leave, raising Cult Beauty’s honorary ‘word nerd’, Tabitha, she speaks fluent ‘beauty’ and loves nothing more than the marriage of language and lip balm (and cleanser and candles… ad infinitum). Nothing can stop her from quoting Nancy Mitford, treating herself to yet another Bella Freud candle for her desk or buying that pilgrim-esque collared or heavily fringed outfit she’s been eyeing. You can trust her to debunk widespread beauty myths and dispense invaluable advice with ease…