Thursday, 14 January 2010


Molyneux is one of the venerable couture houses that live only as ghosts of their former glory. Edward Molyneux opened his house in Paris in 1919. He started his career in the fashion world as a sketcher for Lucile, lost his eye in the Great War, was promoted to the rank of Captain in 1917 (he was nicknamed Captain Molyneux in the fashion world, too), and in 1919, he started his couture house in rue Royale in Paris.

Edward 'Captain' Molyneux entered the world of fragrance by launching his Numéro Cinq, the legend has it, the same day as Coco Chanel launched her No. 5 - they were friends and played this game between them (1). The story is perpetuated on the internet and elsewhere and I cannot say for sure how many grains of truth are in it but I like it.
There were a few other numbered fragrances (3 and 14, says Perfume Intelligence) and a host of others; in 1950, Edward Molyneux retired, left the house to his cousin and later on, the couture salon was closed (it was reopened and re-closed later on) and the fragrance trademark sold.
Nowadays, the brand falls under the house of Berdoues (that of Violettes de Toulouse) and only variation on Quartz seem to be in production. I suspect that the distribution is somewhat limited, I don't remember having seen it in a shop anywhere.

Initiation (by Ilias Ermenidis, says Fragrantica) one only passed throught my dirty paws, I and a collector friend bought some stuff from one place and I got it shipped to my place because I had other stuff for M. With her permission, I decanted a sample for later messing with... and even while messing with the bottle, I was overwhelmed.
Initiation is indeed a late spawn of the powerhouses of the 80's but there's something from the upcoming bland nineties, after all, it was launched in 1990.

The mixture of conservative and creative (see the hexagonal but not really so bottle to get what I mean) evokes one single thing to me: bal des débutantes. Old money, satin, tiaras borrowed from grandmas, pearls, dangly shiny crystal chandeliers. And no, my inner cynic didn't wake up to remark something about good girls from filthy rich families throwing up champagne in the small hours. That could be present in another fragrance but not in this one (2). A young lady who would wear Initiation wouldn't throw up champagne because this lady has manners enough not to drink in excess and moreover she's cute and entertaining.

The packaging would go to the better half of what I've seen. Not exquisite but good enough - the bottle that looks like a crystal pendant on an expensive chandelier, box with burgundy wood grain print and some gold are neat.
The fragrance is done well - launched after the weapons of mass destruction (think Opium) were slowly fading from fashion but not too late to be one of the ozonic florals. It's somehow in between: aldehydes, florals, tuberose, muguet - the latter two used rather carefully so that they don't overwhelm. Tuberose does stick out but it doesn't try to kill anyone as in the hell of Fracas. A handful of citruses and peaches.
The base notes are a bit puzzling to me, there should be civet and coconut and patchouli and amber which I can't smell at all, just some patchouli and vetiver. Along with the aldehydes it creates a sort of breath mint - not bad, just slightly odd.

There's one thing that doesn't happen too often - as if there were two parallel fragrances: one of the breath mints, fresh and rather straightforward, and one of oversweetened fruity floral. Not a bad fragrance at all but the sweet streak kills me so no, I don't intend to live with this one.

Initiation is discontinued but it can be found occassionally at discounters or random places.

just a note, the post got published while unfinished, I mistook Publish for Save.

top notes: Aldehydes, Gardenia, Mandarin Orange, Peach, Bergamot, Brazilian Rosewood
middle notes: Carnation, Tuberose, Jasmine, Heliotrope, Ylang-Ylang, Lily-of-the-Valley, Rose, Narcissus
base notes: Honey, Amber, Patchouli, Coconut, Civet, Oakmoss, Vetiver

(1) I have a bit of Numéro Cinq, I need to check whether it's totally rotten or true to its original nature. A rant will come anyway.
(2) Something sour reeks from certain Guerlains, for example


  1. Stop using the name Liisa Wennervirta. You have stolen her identity.

  2. Dear Anonymous, I've already deleted you once but such a neat concern troll is rare to see so I'm leaving your comment to dear readership who is not ashamed of their names, real or assumed, and who, contrary to you, have manners, to have a laugh.