The scent and taste of watermelon screams !SUMMER! to me. As a child, cracking open a chilled watermelon was a celebratory event during steamy Virginia summers. At my urging (and purchasing, I bought the seeds), my father grew all types of watermelon varieties: classics, miniatures, ball-shaped; melons with pink, red, gold, yellow and white flesh. Watermelons originated in Africa but now are grown around the world. In Japan, the Densuke watermelon is grown in limited quantities only on Hokkaido; these rare, round watermelons with almost-black rinds sell for hundreds of dollars...or many thousands of dollars at auction (for single melons). I was surprised (given the perfume industry's propensity for "fibs" and pretension) that today's two watermelon-flavored perfumes didn't list Densuke watermelon in the ingredients lists. Stay tuned!
Hoping to find a watermelon fragrance that will refresh my summer, I tried two: Shay & Blue Watermelons and Parfums MDCI Bleu Satin.
Shay & Blue Watermelons
Perfumer Julie Massé (listed notes of watermelon, green mandarin, honeysuckle, green leaves, green tea, vetiver)
Watermelons does not smell like watermelons. It smells like a generic/dated "melon" chemical (a calone/ozone-tinged, neon-bright concoction). What I smell most in Watermelons is a sharp, inexpensive-smelling "green" aroma mixing with flat citrus. This fragrance screams "man's cologne;" it reminds me of the scent of a gym locker room where men are dousing themselves in sports fragrances. Since Watermelons' pricing is under $100, it's "free" in today's perfume world; but it still costs way too much. Overall, Watermelons smells like a bargain counter "fresh" accord placed in a pretty bottle. Lazy, lazy, lazy.
Shay & Blue Watermelons natural spray is available in 30 ml ($50) or 100 ml ($90).
Parfums MDCI Bleu Satin
Perfumer Cécile Zarokian (listed notes of bergamot, lemon, green notes, jasmine, cassis, watermelon, saffron, leather, woody notes)
Citrus creamsicle aromas start Bleu Satin on its prosaic journey. There's a minute or two of the same lifeless citrus, harsh "green" and Kool-Aid melon scents I smelled in Watermelons, too. Bleu Satin smells marginally better, quality-wise, than Watermelons. Saffron/suede and hazy wood notes add some interest to the fruit cream (but the vibe is ultra-synthetic throughout). Bleu Satin's $250 price is laughable as is its inspiration: The Blue Boy painting by Thomas Gainsborough! O-kaaaaaaaaaaaaay.
Since the suede note in Bleu Satin is most prominent, why wasn't this called Daim Bleu? As for packaging: this reminds me of the cheesy bottles of booze you see for sale at Christmas, with a Baroque or Renaissance painting on the flask. To suit Bleu Satin's mood, I would have recommended a painting of Elvis on black velvet for the label, a silver top, and, given its price, instead of the dumb tassel, two tiny blue suede shoes dangling from a shoestring lanyard.
As it is: 'meh' on all things inside and outside the Bleu Satin bottle.
Parfums MDCI Bleu Satin Eau de Parfum is $250 for 75 ml.
Suck (I mean such) is the state of niche perfume: low-budget (low-inspiration) wares at black-market prices. I spent $12 on these two tiny, less than 1 ml samples and feel cheated.
Does a realistic watermelon note even exist? If anyone knows of a true-to-life watermelon-scented cologne or candle...please comment!
I guess, for now, I'll be getting my fill of watermelon using the fruit, not commercial fragrance. Here's to a summer of watermelon salad, cocktails and sorbet!
Note: top image is watercolor of Citrullus lanatus by Royal Charles Steadman, 1916 via USDA Pomological Watercolors/NAL Digital Collections.