Pfizer 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.”
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.
I 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.
Is 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?