A man at the outdoor market where I shop each Friday cuts melons to entice customers. He lays out a colorful platter that looks like a Byzanthine mosaic of golden cantaloupe slivers, opalescent musk melon cubes, with an occasional splash of watermelon red. The colors makes me wish that I had a big pile of summer dresses in these shades, but it’s the scent that makes me bring home more fruit than the two of us can possibly eat. The perfume of ripe melon has an almost tangible quality, and its musky sweetness is so seductive, I feel lightheaded.
Yet, as much as I love melons, when I hear that a perfume contains this note, I approach it with caution. Too many melon fragrances have crossed my path that smelled either too sweet, too artificial or both. For this reason, it took me a very long time to try Parfums DelRae Emotionnelle.
It wasn’t love at first sniff. Like Patty at Perfume Posse, I thought, “Wow, melon hell.” Emotionnelle has a huge presence, it’s a melon with a capital M. Heady, musky and ripe to the point of decay, it’s so realistic initially that it’s almost disconcerting. Close your eyes, and you can almost picture juicy slices of cantaloupe. But if you let Emotionnelle live on your skin and run its full course, you will discover that it’s such an exquisite fragrance that it deserves a longer courtship.
Emotionnelle was created by perfumer Michel Roudnitska, and if you’ve smelled his other fragrances for DelRae (Amoureuse, Bois de Paradis, Début), you will recognize the same dramatic character. If you haven’t, you’ll be surprised how the perfume explodes on your skin and how it then forms a complex tapestry of notes. I promise that it won’t leave you indifferent.
While melon is a strong leitmotif to Emotionnelle, jasmine and violet are the rich chords that keep it together. The jasmine is transparent, but thick, reminiscent of the apricot tinted jasmine in Frédéric Malle Le Parfum de Thérèse, a fragrance created by Edmond Roudnitska, Roudnitska’s father. But smell Le Parfum de Thérèse next to Emotionnelle, and you will see that even this bombshell seems modest and retiring next to Emotionnelle’s sultry number.
Eventually the jasmine petals fall away to reveal a violet tinted drydown. It smells both of sweet violet blossoms and the cucumber crunch of violet leaves. After the honeyed richness of jasmine and melon this bright layer is a refreshing palate cleanser as well as a pleasant salty counterpoint.
Emotionnelle is too peculiar to be a crowd pleaser, but it’s too beautiful to be dismissed as a fruit salad out of hand. I could tell you that I enjoy the fine jasmine notes in it or the particularly exquisite twist of clove, but all of that is irrelevant. Emotionnelle makes me laugh. I sniff my melon and violet perfumed wrist, and the very oddity (and success) of this pairing feels like a discovery every time. You can easily turn down its volume by dabbing Emotionnelle, rather than spraying, and I envision that my 50ml bottle will last me for many years at this rate. But if you love Emotionnelle, it makes no sense to restrain yourself. Spray it with abandon and create your own melon heaven.
Parfums DelRae Emotionnelle Eau de Parfum includes notes of tangerine, bergamot, violet leaves, jasmine, rose, plum, cedar, vetiver, carnation, and amber. The collection can be found at Aedes, Luckyscent, Barneys, Beautyhabit, First in Fragrance (Germany), and Les Senteurs (the UK).
Painting of Still Life with Monkey, Fruits and Flowers (detail), by Jean-Baptiste Oudry, 1724. The Art Institute of Chicago
Sample: my own acquisition