When Calone’s Sixty Four !

RollersPfizer is the guilty party.  In 1951 they patented a chemical which mimicked a breezy marine atmosphere, a molecule which paradoxically smelled like something you could also find on dry land namely melons.  That was Calone which has been a bugaboo of mine in perfumes for as long as I can remember smelling the stuff.

I don’t think I’m unusual.  As far back as a decade ago I  remember a bunch of perfume bloggers being asked what they considered the single worst note in perfumery, the one they couldn’t get past and the answer was either “the artificial melon note” or else the “aquatic” note. Robin from Now Smell This was on record as really disliking the effect, and her opinion was not uncommon.

That didn’t change the fact that Calone had sparked the engines of a number of perfume Hummers especially in the 90’s when behemoth vehicles like Cool Water and its many knock offs dominated the male scent sales.  Recently even such indie perfumers as Andy Tauer contemplated creating a perfume based on Calone, “… there are trends.” he wrote in his blog,” Like: Calone  works for men. And women. Often. And hurray! Calone is cheap.”

Axe's Marine

Axe’s Marine

Well yes Calone is cheap these days and you can find it in just about every line.  I’m sure I smelled it in Diptyque’s Florabellio, designated as “sea notes” maybe there is a new aromachemical that does the same job, but old Calone would probably do it for less, and Calone may be in Andy’s Pentachords Verdant, where there is another “water accord” and is definitely in de Nicolai’s Weekend and in their Musc Monoi.  The note is featured in Axe Marine too which gives you an idea of just how ubiquitous good old Calone has become in its 64 year history.

Myself I tend to shudder at the notion of yet more Calone.  This is the kind of shudder that has made me leave Hilde Soliani’s Mangiami Dopo Teatro strictly alone, and  I did not try Delrae’s  Emotionnelle for similar reasons though this may have been a mistake.

The trouble with Calone is you can’t easily make it high end any more.  People are too accustomed to smelling this synthetic in fabric softener and soap dispensers. Calone is so familiar as a part of industrial perfumery these days that trying to make it part of  a high end composition is as hard as…selling le Parfum de Therese.

seawaterI can’t tell of course just how hard selling that perfume is since I don’t have their sales figures, but you soon read on perfume forums just how controversial the fragrance remains, and even if Therese does not contain Calone, LPdT  certainly is an early aquatic perfume and has a melon melting somewhere in the  kitchen, a melon which few wearers can avoid noticing.  If you travel a little further down the road with Roudnitska compositions and pull up at Ocean Rain the marine component is  right in the middle of the fragrance where you really can’t avoid it, surrounded  by a strange mixture of florals like carnation, rose, and cyclamen, and bolstered with aromatics like thyme, camomile, and fir. Ocean Rain is of course difficult to find but I wonder how the scent compares to Le Parfum de Therese and guess that for most niche perfumers nowadays, Calone may be  risky.

water over pebblesIs there a way to keep Calone gainfully employed instead of pensioned off high end perfumery?  There may be but the stuff is strong enough to be sniffed as a cliche ingredient, so dosage would have to be careful.  If you are trying to keep costs down in a formula this is too bad.

On the other hand could Calone achieve a fresher, more interesting take on water combined with newer molecular inventions?  Maybe.

Myself when I want to smell of salt water I go to the beach which is a five minute jaunt for me now but that’s not everyone’s solution.  Do you have a favorite aquatic or do you think that Calone and the entire genre it spawned is all washed up?

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10 thoughts on “When Calone’s Sixty Four !

  1. I’m not a big Calone fan, although it bothers me less than it bothers a lot of fumeheads – I missed out on most of the early-90s aquatics because I was newly married and broke, and still making do with the bottles of perfume I already owned from the 80s (original Chloe, Prince Matchabelli Cachet, Xia Xi’ang, and Aspen for Women).

    I really miss Aspen – loved the stuff. It was L O U D, in the sense that, oh, Poison and Giorgio were loud (oddly, Chloe was never loud on me), but I really loved it. It went bad on my dresser within two years of purchase, which had never happened to me before (witness the excellent lasting power of Chloe over about twelve years in the same conditions). You can’t find Aspen for Women now, only the men’s version, which is very different, and you can’t even find a notes list for it, either. I bought an unopened bottle of AfW on ebay, hoping it was okay, but it wasn’t. I used it a couple of times, but it just seemed to deteriorate further and further, and so I finally got rid of the replacement bottle too. I suspect that’s why it was discontinued.

    In any case, my point about it was that I’m fairly certain it had Calone in it, along with a distinctive coniferous note which did *not* smell like Pine-Sol, and some really lush rose-and-white-florals, as opposed to the wimpy freesia-and-lotus kind or florals, atop a strongly woody base. So yes, it was aquatic, but not in the overly clean sort of way that L’Eau d’Issey is aquatic. The effect was more “stiff breeze off the lake through the trees” than “ocean/pool near the bowl of cut cantaloupe.”

    It might be interesting to try it in that kind of warm, rococo setting again (though I’m not sure it would be stable, or even if there WAS Calone in AfW anyway).

  2. Aspen for Women? Hm… you’re right of course those notes are hard to find although when Aspen for Women came out Pfizer owned Coty ( according to one poster on Basnotes) so as a Pfizer product Calone probably was in there.

    White flowers and Calone? That might work, maybe also green notes, so you could get a real Fleur de Rocailles effect, you know hyacinths and jasmine and Calone on a flinty/earth tincture base to imitate the streambead? Mind you the over all effect might be Fleurs de Mud 🙂

  3. There is no calone in the Pentachord Verdant.
    In my blog post from where you cite, I mention a couple of things. I followed up on the idea later. That calone is cheap was a funny side note, really. Yes, it is cheap and yes it sells. Maybe this is because an entire generation was conditioned to Calone.
    The blog post was titled “Was Calone putting an end to high end male perfumery”. I started the post with this ” This morning, for no particular reasons, I woke up thinking: “I need to make a Calone centric fragrance”. The second thought was “maybe with a big flower next to it. That would be so odd, maybe a tuberose or rose”. The third thought was “there is a reason why I do not have Calone here in my perfume studio/lab/creative mess”.
    Thanks for letting me correct the Verdant statement.

    1. My bad, and my profuse apologies. I did not mean to impugn Verdant’s good name. Calone still is such a common ingredient everywhere that I thought you might have taken the plunge with it in that perfume.

      I did by the by catch the funny side of your post and Calone may indeed have become a cliche in masculines which is too bad-but what about feminines? Could old Calone get a second lease on life mated to a big white floral? So I actually like your idea, even if quickly abandoned.
      Thanks for setting me straight, and if you ever change your mind and decide to do a BWF with Calone let me know…

  4. Since I don’t like melon note (no matter how it’s achieved) and I don’t like a single perfume from the Fragrantica’s list of Calone-containing perfumes, I can assume that I do not care for this note – whether I recognize it as such in perfume or not.

  5. Pretty much my reaction too, but I did read a post on the 4160 Tuesdays blog about Calone and a visit to the Osmotheque. The perfumer Yves Tanguy was giving a talk and apparently he created Aramis’ New West by simply adding Calone to Cristalle, (he’s also credited with Magie Noire apparently). Okay.

    Well uh…now I can’t remember if I ever smelled New West or what I thought of it, but I wonder whether Calone can ever become palatable again? Anyway it’s in 4160 Tuesdays What I Did On My Holidays which features peppermint, coconut suntan lotion and sea notes over lavender and a vanilla base. Not sure if this appeals either but you never know.

  6. Oh my-let me confess to you, here and now-

    I don’t hate Calone:) I know that is wrong, but I quite like the melon note.

    I have, and love, Jardin Apres Mousson, and PdeT, and L’artisan Fleur de Lianne. FdeL is the most under appreciated scent ever-and I love it. It works as a sense of place, cause when I wear it I remember being on a cliff high above the sea-that lovely smell of wet air, and how good it makes me feel. But FdeL works as a fragrance too, and just astonishes me. The first time I tried it I was too hot, and had come from a job interview I was sure I was not going to get . The tester was on slower sort of display. I liked the green on the label, spritzed it, forgot about it. Then later I smelled something so beautiful I was amazed. I stopped to sniff the air to see what it was. Turning slowly in circles and inhaling. Well, like a pet that chases its own tale-it was me! But I still don’t expect other people to love it:)

  7. How could the millions of people who love Calone fragrances be wrong?
    I just don’t think that’s remotely possible. Everything works in the right context, I mean consider civet!
    Have not come across Fleur de Lianne but will give it a try based on your description which sounds wonderful and I am never sure about Le Parfum de Therese but am always interested by it.
    Un Jardin Apres le Mousson was the only one of the Jardin series I enjoyed so do understand how you feel about that. It was melons and peppers (fresh jalapenos) on me. How far wrong could you go?

  8. Late to this one, sorry. I smell a big slug of calone in Badgely Mischka – the originial release, now d/c. When Godzilla meets King Kong, they seem to get on remarkably well. For me, calone is the note that freshens the massive syrupy fruit in BM and gives the fragrance the bell-like clarity that Tania Sanchez notes in The Guide.

    Other than that, I hate calone and can detect it in parts per million. Florabellio was an absolute scrubber for me, and I can smell it in Bottega Veneta’s Knot. Ack! Needless to say I can’t go near Therese. Ocean Rain would probably send me to the ER. 🙁 So thanks for the warning.

  9. Too bad about Ocean Rain sending you to Urgent Care! Me too I suspect, although there’s a feeling with Le P d T that I’m just not getting it. You know, like a movie you watch abroad with no subtitles.

    Did not realize that calone was in B Mischka, though that figures, and I too couldn’t abide Knot. That one had me scurrying to the ladies room at Neiman’s to scrub like mad! Calone again, so context and dose seem to be everything with that material

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