Since Hugo Boss has the sense to call Calone, Calone (and not “hydroponic melon,” “high tide accord” or “seaweed sorbet”) in the list of notes for their new Hugo Element, I wish they had gone a step further and called this product Calone Cologne — because that’s what Hugo Element smells like.
Hugo Element contains Limonene, Linalool, Citronellol, Geraniol, Citral, coumarin, and wisps of ginger, coriander and cedar wood, but Calone overpowers the other notes. For all of you who believe you may not be familiar with Calone: you ARE familiar with it — Calone is present in hundreds of masculine and feminine perfumes, especially ones that proclaim an affinity with the seaside. When the words “aquatic,” “marine” or “oceanic” are included in a list of perfume notes, or in a perfume description, the chances are good Calone is in the formula. Calone is so ubiquitous, when I smell it I think: “Department Store Perfume Counter, Anywhere, USA". (I also sometimes think: “Housework!” because there are lots of Calone-rich cleaning products on the market; Calone = Clean.)
Calone was discovered by the drug company Pfizer in 1966 and is similar in chemical structure to pheromones secreted by certain brown algae*. Calone’s molecular structure also resembles tranquilizers** and I can attest to the ‘sleep-inducing’ — i.e. boredom-producing — effects of Calone; the scent of Calone is everywhere: in anti-bacterial wipes, supermarket soaps and detergents, “fine” fragrances and candles. But don’t call me an outright “Calone-Hater”; though Calone can be “obnoxious” and harsh (semi-industrial in character) when it dominates a perfume, if Calone is skillfully blended with other notes, especially rich notes, it can buoy a fragrance, add zing.
Unfortunately, Hugo Element is not an example of a good Calone cologne; it’s as dull as dish water, predictable, and a member of my “Why Bother?” fragrance category for 2009. Hugo Element smells of Calone (a touch melon-y, a tad salty, “fresh”) with a bit of diffuse, spicy wood in the dry down. Hugo Boss tried to liven up Hugo Element’s launch with a “cool” bottle and perky, but meaningless, TV spots (“Wherever you GO! Whatever you DO! The day is what you make of it! Anywhere in your Element!”) Hugo Boss got a laugh out of me when they described the Hugo Element bottle as an “…interpretation of a lifestyle object – in this case an oxygen bottle”. After wearing Hugo Element for a few days, I would have loved a sniff or two of lung-cleansing, purifying oxygen straight from an oxygen bottle!
Hugo Boss Hugo Element is available in 40, 60 and 90 ml Eau de Toilette and in matching grooming products.
* See bojensen.net.
** See Luca Turin's article Calone, at NZZ Folio.