mercredi 11 mars 2009

Michel's Melon: Parfums DelRae Émotionnelle

Michel Roudnitska’s compositions for Parfums DelRae have always had a generous, expansive disposition – their voice carries far and their tone is assured, much in the style of classic perfumery, but slightly amped up to cut through the contemporary olfactory cacophony.

Émotionnelle is no exception. Though the inspiration, this time, is no longer San Francisco but Paris – and more specifically, DelRae Roth’s memories of her stay in Paris – the overall feeling points southwards to Provence. Roudnitska’s contribution to Roth’s initial conception is a vibrant, saturated melon note. You can’t not think of the fragrance his father composed for his mother, Le Parfum de Thérèse, and of Diorama, which both feature a melon top note: this is clearly a tribute to the great Edmond. But smelled side by side, Thérèse and Diorama are clearly different from Émotionnelle, a bit darker in feel – they are, after all, chypres, which the DelRae is not, though in many ways it has a chypre structure (bergamot, labdanum and a vetyver-cedar base standing in for oak moss). A prune note also points to the Roudnitska heritage, but in Émotionnelle, it doesn’t have the slightly dusty, nutty facets of the nonalactone, also known as prunolide, of the Prunol base used in the original Femme: this is clearly Michel’s, and not Edmond’s work.

For the calone-haters out there: the melon, here, isn’t played for an aquatic effect. In fact, it is so realistic you can practically taste the orange flesh of the sun-ripened, un-watered fruit offered in the markets of Cavaillon in high summer, further brightened by the bergamot and tangerine that cut through the sweetness, with the lash of green of the violet leaves adding to the vegetal freshness.

More strangely, this melon displays an almost animalic facet, intensified by the other dominant opening note, honey… This melon-honey accord keeps on expanding for hours until it burst – again, the image is of a giant, ripe fruit – to release an intensely lovely, suave jasmine-amber-vanilla accord sprinkled with spices (clove, cinnamon) and cooled off with a metallic blade of ionones (violet, iris). In an interview to Sniffapalooza Magazine, Michel Roudnitska speaks of “spicy leather notes”, and though I don’t specifically get leather, I can see where he’s going: a very subtle, darker counterpoint to the sunny juiciness and heady florals, that hints at skin as lusciously as any classic, without actually repeating the classics. Great job, beautiful scent.

Image: Claude Monet, Still Life with Melon (1872)

8 commentaires:

  1. Hi, D. Nice to see this review! I was just reading about this composition yesterday, and wondering if I should test it. I adore cavaillon melon, and don't even mind melon in my perfume (love melon à la Edmond Roudnitska as in vintage Diorama, Le Parfum de Thérèse, Diorella; and of course, also love the more recent honeydew melon in Vanille Galante) . For some reason, your review created an intense taste craving in me for some cavaillon melon with grated lime zest, splashed with a little muscat de Beaumes de Venise.

  2. Hi J. Melon got a bad rap because of the aquatics, which aren't rated very highly by perfumistas... But this is the real fruit, not a stand-in for water. Have you ever tried Cavaillon melon with just a bit of finely milled black pepper? It brings out the taste (as it does with strawberries).

  3. A novice's question: what is the scent that was inspired by San Francisco?
    -- Gretchen

  4. Gretchen, as I've understood, all the first DelRaes were composed with San Francisco in mind...

  5. Oh yes, cavaillon melon with black pepper! Or with thinly sliced prosciutto.

    Which reminds me that I was re-sniffing Un Jardin Apres La Mousson the other night (sorry for my lack of accents on this computer), and I suddenly realized that I don't think there is any explicit melon note in this composition. Rather, the sense of melon seems to arise from bits and pieces of vetiver, ginger, pepper, and cardamom. As though the conjunction of each of them leaves a melon-like hole that the nose fills in with "melon." When I went looking for the melon itself, I had trouble finding it...

  6. J., you know, I had JCE right in front of me yesterday and never thought of asking him anything about the "melon" note... I see your point and I think that melon becomes an effect that, once identified, can overwhelm the beholder. The "melon" note regularly comes up in blogs and boards (a bit like heliotropin = Band-Aid) to the point where it's a trope -- part of the perfumista language/code. I'm thinking this can short-circuit perception of the actual notes...

  7. Hi D, hi J.

    This fragrance sounds like a must-try. I am not worried about the melon note, mostly because of my love for Pierre Bourdon's use of melon notes in a couple of the Ferres, such as Bergamotto Marino and Ferre by Gianfranco Ferre ("new"). The former has a wonderful salty marine note (salt on skin) in the topnotes and just a touch of melon. (J, your sample is on the way!) A far cry from the watery aquatic descriptor.

    The latter has melon and pineapple in the topnotes that give the impression of fresh, sweet nectar. So D, when I read your sentence about a giant ripe fruit, bursting to release a jasmine-amber-vanilla accord, (along with all of the other lovely bits).... Over to Lucky Scent I go!

  8. Melisand, I'm reassured: I thought melon was a quasi-universally despised note! Emotionnelle might be up your alley, then...