Parfums DelRae Eau Emotionnelle : Fragrance Review


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. Heady, musky and ripe to the point of decay, Emotionnelle’s melon note is 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.

Painting of Still Life with Monkey, Fruits and Flowers (detail), by Jean-Baptiste Oudry, 1724. The Art Institute of Chicago



  • Becca: I received a sample of Emotionelle with my Aedes order and I just ignored it thinking that melon wouldn’t work for me. Issey Miyake put me off melony notes. I’m hoping I didn’t throw away that sample, because your lovely review is too tempting. July 30, 2012 at 8:34am Reply

    • Victoria: Becca, I hope that you can give it a try. As Austenfan say, Emotionnelle isn’t for the faint of heart, but it’s so distinctive. And be sure to let it run the full course of its development on your skin. It changes so much. The initial melon notes are very strong, but then the violet and jasmine in the drydown are just exquisite. July 30, 2012 at 9:05am Reply

  • Austenfan: A lovely review of my 2nd favourite Delrae (Amoureuse is the one I love the most). Not for the faint of heart, but then the Roudnitska Delrae’s have a lot of presence, as you mentioned. Emotionelle seems like a more carefree Thérèse, the younger, sunnier sister.
    What I think I love the most is this sense of decay that it evokes. In that respect it reminds me a little of Manoumalia. July 30, 2012 at 8:58am Reply

    • Victoria: It’s so interesting that you mentioned Manoumalia, because when I started reviewing and comparing Emotionnelle to different fragrances I knew, Rubj and Manoumalia came to mind. Not because they smell alike, but because they evoke a similar feeling of tropics, heat, flowers and fruit that are so heady they have a hint of decay. But Emotionnelle doesn’t smell repulsive in the slightest. I receive a lot of compliments on it. July 30, 2012 at 9:03am Reply

      • Austenfan: Manoumalia takes the decay one step further I think. It also smells more tropical, but not the cliché’d coconutty tropical. I love it, but I remember March at the Posse did a very funny review of it in which she quite graphically described her dislike.

        I had never connected Rubj to Emotionelle but I can see why you might. July 31, 2012 at 8:40am Reply

        • Victoria: That’s a very good distinction–tropical, but not the expected coconutty tropical. Manoumalia can be a huge turn off. That review at the PP was hysterical. But Denyse of Graindemusc observed that when she gave Manoumalia to an Indian gentleman to smell, he almost got teary. It smelled so much like home to him. July 31, 2012 at 9:11am Reply

  • sara: I haven’t yet tried Parfums DelRae, but I have fallen at first sniff for Parfum de Therese. If Emotionnelle is anything like it, I need it. My poor wallet… July 30, 2012 at 9:11am Reply

    • Victoria: It’s like Le Parfum de Therese with its volume turned up! If you like LPdT, you might enjoy Emotionnelle too, but do sample first. It’s a love or hate perfume, from what I’ve read. July 30, 2012 at 9:48am Reply

  • Portia: LEMMING!

    Portia x July 30, 2012 at 9:25am Reply

    • Victoria: 🙂 I look forward to hearing your thoughts on it! July 30, 2012 at 9:49am Reply

  • OperaFan: I adore those outdoor markets in Europe. Visiting them have always been among the highlights of my trips.

    For a melon scent, Emotionnelle has remarkable longevity. Melons are not among my favorite fruites, but they do have a distinct character and can easily evoke happy childhood memories. I haven’t played with my sample for a couple of years, but have been meaning to revisit, and you’ve just provided the impetus.

    I actually have a couple of large sample vials and wouldn’t it be nice if I can make that connection well-enough to want to decant and spray…. July 30, 2012 at 10:17am Reply

    • Victoria: I like the outdoor markets too, although I still miss the Union Square market in NYC. The main difference between the markets in Brussels and in New York is that the produce here isn’t always local. It’s often the same stuff that sold at the supermarket (from the same distributors), but it might be fresher, because it wasn’t stored as long in the cooler. And then there might be a stall run someone who actually makes his/her own jam or collects special cheese all over Belgium. The personal interaction is the best part. After a while, vendors begin to recognize you, give you a couple of free peaches or recommend something particularly good.

      Please let me know what you think of Emotionnelle once you get to try it! July 30, 2012 at 12:26pm Reply

  • sammysmom: I’m generally in the Le Parfum de Therese fanclub, but I think I remember Emotionelle as too sweet for me. You’ve made me curious to smell this again, though. July 30, 2012 at 10:18am Reply

    • Victoria: I think that the beginning is sweet, but then it settles down. But like you, I’m a big fan of Le Parfum de Therese. They are different enough to have both. July 30, 2012 at 12:27pm Reply

  • Roberta Vommaro: Oh My God. It sounds like I’m going to love it! I just bought a big bottle of Le Parfum de Therese. I’m going to order a sample right now. 🙂 July 30, 2012 at 11:44am Reply

    • Roberta Vommaro: P.S. It is breakfast time here in Vancouver and reading about the melons at the market made me so hungry! July 30, 2012 at 11:46am Reply

      • Victoria: We’re almost at dinner time! I’m off to pick up some fruit, and then I’m going to start cooking. Melon and feta salad is on the menu today. July 30, 2012 at 12:30pm Reply

        • Roberta Vommaro: Sounds delightful! Buon appetito! July 30, 2012 at 12:45pm Reply

          • Victoria: Thank you. 🙂 Refreshing and summery! July 30, 2012 at 1:57pm Reply

    • Victoria: Can’t wait to hear what you think, Roberta! I really think that those who love LpdT should enjoy Emotionnelle, but be prepared for a very different and much more explosive character. 🙂 July 30, 2012 at 12:29pm Reply

      • Roberta Vommaro: I have a feeling I will like it indeed. I’ll tell you later. July 30, 2012 at 12:46pm Reply

  • Civava: I was just eating melon with feta and olives, as I’ve seen your post. Now I have huge appetite for this perfume. July 30, 2012 at 11:54am Reply

    • Victoria: Oh, I was just replying to Roberta that I’m going to make melon and feta salad for dinner. Some olives would be a good touch! July 30, 2012 at 12:30pm Reply

      • Daisy: Watermelon-feta salad is one of my favorites! I haven’t tried the combo with other melons . . . prosciutto con melone is one of my favorite things in the whole wide world.

        Because pigs are delicious. Cute too 😉 July 30, 2012 at 1:03pm Reply

        • Victoria: Feta works well with many different fruits, I’ve discovered. Something about that salty-grassy flavor of feta fits the sweet fruit so well. And I agree with you, anything that comes from a pig is great. A noble animal! 🙂 July 30, 2012 at 1:59pm Reply

  • MB: Gorgeous review. I love this scent! I am so in the mood for a European outdoor market. Just three more weeks! July 30, 2012 at 12:09pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you! Hope that you enjoy your trip.
      Brussels is the place for people who love markets. There is some sort of market on any day of the week here–antiques, books, food, clothes, you name it. I haven’t visited them all, but little by little I’m making my discoveries. July 30, 2012 at 12:33pm Reply

  • Nancy A.: Hi Victoria,

    Eau Therese happens to be one of the Malle fragrances I so favor and while I love eating melons (try a little lime on cantaloupes, lemon on honeydews) I do not go out of my way to wear fragrance that sports melon. However, your review always tempts me to seek out your reviews. Glad to hear that you are “discovering” your neighborhood and savoring its offerings. July 30, 2012 at 12:15pm Reply

    • Victoria: I love the idea of using citrus juice to highlight the sweetness of melons. Just like using salt on grapefruit to highlight its sweetness.
      Hope that you can try Emotionnelle. I’m curious what others who like Le Parfum de Therese think of it. July 30, 2012 at 12:35pm Reply

  • Daisy: I am curious now about this! Melon is not my favorite note . . . violet isn’t always my thing either . . . but I am encouraged to hear that in the hands of a master it can be beautiful. I will add this to my must-smell list! July 30, 2012 at 1:05pm Reply

    • Victoria: You know, it really depends on how the notes are used. Just like a certain ingredient can take a completely different character depending on how a chef used it. Cooking and perfumery are really quite similar. In this case, the melon is foiled by the violet leaf and jasmine, and it smells like fruit, but also like your skin after you spend a day at the beach–salty, musky and sweet. July 30, 2012 at 2:03pm Reply

      • Daisy: That sounds yummy/very appealing. Will need to try! July 30, 2012 at 2:41pm Reply

        • Victoria: At Murray’s cheese shop I was once given a piece of chocolate and a slice of sheep milk cheese. It wasn’t feta, more like pecorino, but the combo was spectacular. I’ve been eating cheese and chocolate together ever since then. July 30, 2012 at 4:38pm Reply

          • Daisy: That sounds divine!

            When I was in Croatia, I had some local Pecorino-like cheese drizzled with white truffle honey. It was Istria, so truffles on everything! July 30, 2012 at 6:12pm Reply

            • Victoria: I have little jar of truffle flavored honey, and I couldn’t figure out what else to do with it. Now, I need to try it with cheese. Your Croatian experience sounds very interesting. Did you enjoy the food and the trip overall? July 30, 2012 at 6:19pm Reply

              • Daisy: I loved it! I ate ridiculously well in Croatia. But I did my homework before the trip. We rented a car and found these little auberges all over the countryside. People who made their own air-dried ham and their own olive oil. We came back with quite a few bottles of glorious green oil and home-made liquors bottled by the owners themselves. We ate a lot of game too. Very yummy!

                And truffle honey drizzled hard, salty cheese is divine! I love it for dessert. I would never have thought to do that, but there was the owner of this one lodge up in the mountains who shared 🙂 July 30, 2012 at 6:48pm Reply

                • MB: I learn so much on this blog! I would never have thought to visit Croatia but Daisy is forcing me to reconsider! Thanks! July 30, 2012 at 9:08pm Reply

                • Victoria: A testament to the seductive power of your description, I walked (despite rain) to my favorite cheese shop and picked up a little round of creamy sheep milk cheese. I ate it drizzled with chestnut honey, fantasizing about the Croatian countryside.

                  Now, like MB, I really want to go to Croatia, and I didn’t think about it before. I learn something new thanks to all of you every day. July 31, 2012 at 9:05am Reply

                  • Daisy: As a literature person, I get very seduced by what I read too 🙂

                    You are very brave for venturing out in the rain! Brava!

                    If you get the chance, the Croatian countryside is beautiful. These little auberges are called konobas and they are almost always built around a giant hearth where all the food is braised or roasted. I can’t speak for the Dalmatian Coast, but Istria’s konobas are well marked — a pleasant surprise given how small some of them are. Seriously, it is like eating in someone’s living room!

                    But they have a wonderful food history that gets overshadowed by all the tourist pizza joints in Dubrovnik. July 31, 2012 at 3:07pm Reply

                    • Victoria: That sounds wonderful! Thank you so much for sparking my interest further. If you don’t mind, I will write to you for some more recommendations when I finally decide to go.

                      Istria’s food must be very interesting in its blend of Italian and Slavic influences. July 31, 2012 at 3:57pm

  • minette: love love love amoureuse, also coup de foudre (if you ever need an emotional lift, use this one – it’s amazing!), and like bois and debut, but could not get past the melon (which reads like decay and BO on my skin) in this one. i agree, it is too well-done to be dismissed as just another fruit salad. it is much more sophisticated. however, i cannot wear it.

    last week someone brought a giant watermelon to work, and cut into it, then left it exposed to the air for hours. everytime i walked into that room, the air was thick with melon smell, and quite enticing. it was interesting to see how strong the aroma was. the melon itself didn’t taste half as good as it smelled, alas. July 30, 2012 at 3:07pm Reply

    • Victoria: I notice something similar about cucumbers too. Occasionally, even the blandest cucumbers have this impressive scent. It’s such a summery association for me, and if I have a cucumber salad in the winter, it immediately lifts my spirits.

      Off to find my sample of Coup de Foudre! Yes, definitely need an emotional lift. 🙂 July 30, 2012 at 4:49pm Reply

      • MB: V, I have a friend who claims to be allergic to perfume. And will only wear Kiehl’s cucumber oil. Is there anything else I can steer her to? July 30, 2012 at 9:10pm Reply

        • Victoria: If she wears Kiehl’s cucumber oil, then I doubt that she’s allergic! That stuff packs some punch. But she may not like the sharp, fruity notes in the department store perfumes. Why not introduce her to scents like L’Artisan (Eau de l’Artisan and Violette Verte might be good, if she likes green, cucumbery notes), Annick Goutal (Eau de Camille, Ninfeo Mio), Hermes (colognes, they are even sold at some Sephoras and Jardin series)? July 31, 2012 at 9:09am Reply

  • Alyssa: This makes me laugh, too, V! (Not as hard as Byredo’s Pulp makes me laugh, but then I can’t wear pulp for more than five minutes at a time.) After I get past the Eaten Alive By an Enormous Overripe Melon part (not an unpleasant sensation at all) I smell some of the same honey/cardamom accord in the drydown that I get in Amoureuse. Perhaps I’m just imagining it. If so I think I’ll continue to do so since that’s my favorite part. 🙂 I will have to re-sniff with violets in mind. I think I know what you mean from my memory of Parfum de Therese. July 30, 2012 at 3:11pm Reply

    • Victoria: I haven’t tried Byredo. Something about the line being disconcertingly similar to Frederic Malle’s makes me wary, so I haven’t sampled much from it. Pulp sounds strange and perversely interesting though.

      Your comment about the honey-cardamom drydown of Amoureuse and Emotionnelle reminded me that Un Jardin de Mousson by Hermes is another cardamom spiked melon that’s worth trying. It’s a delicate little thing next to Emotionnelle. July 30, 2012 at 4:52pm Reply

  • Alyssa: P.S. I didn’t fully appreciate this one of Amoureuse until I wore them on a hot day. (Different days. My god, layering them might cause some kind of nuclear explosion.) It seems counterintuitive since they’re already so enormous, but the ripe, hot, humid day made their lush decay make perfect sense and the same notes that overwhelmed me on a cool day became intoxicating. July 30, 2012 at 3:14pm Reply

    • Victoria: Nearly chocked on my tea! Yes, layering Emotionnelle and Amoureuse might be lethal. If not for you, then for your fellow human beings. 🙂

      But seriously, I completely agree with you. I’ve been wearing Emotionnelle (and Amoureuse) on what has been the hottest week this summer–84F. The heat makes it bloom so beautifully, and contrary to what I might expect, it makes it even more harmonious. July 30, 2012 at 4:56pm Reply

  • Nicola: Lovely review of a beautiful, confident perfume. I am in the Parfum de Therese fanclub (particularly since Dior defaced my beloved Diorella) and this is clearly related and not just through the relationship of their respective creators. But I would agree with Alyssa that it is best enjoyed on a hot day! July 30, 2012 at 4:48pm Reply

    • Victoria: Ah, that’s a great point about Diorella, thank you for bringing it up. Emotionnelle definitely has that ripe to the point of decay richness of Diorella, but in a more flamboyant context. I love all three fragrances, and I find them all different enough and telling different stories. July 30, 2012 at 4:59pm Reply

  • Ariadne: I am still not sure if I am a fruit frag. lady, although these reviews make me want to dabble! My daughter smelled like a walking fruit salad during her entire life at home prior to leaving for college & beyond. Her multiple showers a day sometimes left the rest of the house staggering in her swath. I do love fruit and cheese! Greek neighbors taught me to store my feta in a lidded container filled with milk and to drain it off just before serving. This renders it too creamy for tossing into a salad but makes it a wonderfully rich side condiment for just about any fresh vegetable or fruit.
    V- any pic’s from your outdoor market? ;+) July 30, 2012 at 5:53pm Reply

    • Victoria: I buy feta from a Syrian shop where it’s sold in huge chunks, so your neighbor’s advice would very helpful. We can never finish them fast enough before the outside starts to dry out. I know that it can be stored in brine too, but the milk sounds perfect.

      My camera usually stays at home when I go to the market. Mostly, it’s because I know that I will have to carry heavy bags. At the market, I’m all business. On the other hand, when I travel I love photographing the markets. The colors, textures, shapes–it all lends itself to interesting photos.

      Dabble, please! There are so many interesting fruity fragrances that definitely will not leave you smelling like a fruit salad. 🙂 July 30, 2012 at 6:24pm Reply

  • Lynn Morgan: As always, Victoria, your writing is so lush and evocative, my mouth is watering! I can’t really say that melon is a favorite perfume note, but I am jonesing for a late lunch! July 30, 2012 at 6:32pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Lynn! I know that it may not be your thing at all, but something about the dramatic nature of Emotionnelle should at least appeal on some level. On the other hand, if you haven’t tried Bois de Paradis, I recommend sampling it–dark, luscious woods. July 31, 2012 at 8:55am Reply

  • RVB: Victoria-any idea if Calone is used to achieve the melon note? I’m a little leery of Calone… July 30, 2012 at 6:32pm Reply

    • Victoria: I smell a marine, Calone like note in it, yes. But because it’s wrapped in so much jasmine and violet, it feels soft. July 31, 2012 at 9:01am Reply

  • Mrs. Scents: Your review is absolutely wonderful – I know exactly what you mean about getting drawn into buying fruit because of their wonderful scents! I usually end up with apricots I wasn’t intending to buy because their gorgeous aroma entices me into it!
    But onto the fragrance, which sounds amazing. I have fear of melon fragrances like yourself (they are usually just too manufactured and sweet smelling for me!), but this fragrance sounds incredibly luscious! I’m in the process of ordering myself a sample as we speak! 🙂 July 30, 2012 at 7:39pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you! With apricots, the color and their soft fuzzy orbs draw me as well. I just cannot resist a big pile of apricots. Today was a case in point–I came home with 2kg of apricots. Probably will have to make jam, because we won’t be able to finish them. 🙂

      Hope that you enjoy Emotionnelle, for its drama and originality if nothing else. Although that’s probably plenty as it is. 🙂 July 31, 2012 at 9:07am Reply

  • Daisy: Definitely! Around the coast, it is almost identical to what you might find around Trieste, but moving to higher into the mountains makes it really interesting 🙂 July 31, 2012 at 4:13pm Reply

    • Victoria: The mountain cooking is fascinating! Even in Ukraine the Western part, the Carpathians, has some unique dishes that you won’t find anywhere else. The cakes there are splendid layered creations in which every single layer has a different flavor. July 31, 2012 at 5:56pm Reply

      • Daisy: That’s what I love! I would love to eat my way through Ukraine. I have always dreamed of starting in Ukraine and eating my way counterclockwise to Georgia. So much history and so much variety in terms of geography means lots of really fascinating food!

        I would shop in the maternity section of Topshop before the trip, pregnant or not 🙂 I would also buy those orthopedic shoes that evenly distribute your weight 🙂

        Before I left for Croatia, the Croatian tourism board here told me about a gastronomic guide that you had to weasel, scheme, and beg to get. It was really comprehensive and very expensive to print, so they really didn’t like to give it away to people they didn’t think were serious (the tourism board had run out).

        I went to three tourism information centers in Pula where everyone denied it even existed before a nice woman in a smaller town gave me a precious copy. It was hefty, and lo and behold, it is now available as a PDF.

        Ah, modernity! July 31, 2012 at 6:34pm Reply

        • Victoria: Dowloading it as I type! Thank you so much. That in itself seems like a great armchair travel read. 🙂

          Your idea of eating through Ukraine and ending up in Georgia sounds wonderful. And you should include Azerbaijan too–all those delicate pilafs…. Needless to say, if you ever end up in Ukraine, you will have to let me know. July 31, 2012 at 6:52pm Reply

          • Daisy: It is kind of the guide I like best. maps and well-edited, comprehensive listings. It tickles my inner researcher 🙂 July 31, 2012 at 6:58pm Reply

    • Victoria: By the way, I wish I could say I were brave to venture out in the rain to look for cheese, but the truth is it rains here daily. I’m just getting used to it. 😉 July 31, 2012 at 5:57pm Reply

      • Daisy: Aw! Europe has been really very rainy these past few summers.

        I was still thinking about those layer cakes. Fantastic. Did you ever catch Heston Blumenthal’s Fantastic Feasts series? I hate how he dumbed it down for the broadcast, but the ideas were genius. Like his reproduction of the Drink Me Potion from Alice and Wonderland.

        Anyway, that reminded me of that 🙂 July 31, 2012 at 6:42pm Reply

        • Victoria: I will post a recipe one of these days. Meanwhile, here is a photo; it’s probably the simplest version, but it’s also one of the most traditional. It has apricot, pistachio and fromage blanc fillings.

          I haven’t seen these series. Off to check out the video. July 31, 2012 at 6:48pm Reply

          • Daisy: Mouthwatering!!!! I will definitely let you know when I head to Ukraine!

            I say will, not if because I know that it is in my future 🙂 Just a matter or when 🙂 July 31, 2012 at 6:55pm Reply

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