What is Ca·lone (noun)?

What is Ca·lone (noun)?

By Danielle DesRosiers

Calone does not originate from a fresh flower, nor even the resin of a tropical tree. It doesn’t even come from freshly cut grass in a newly sprouted meadow. It’s a chemical compound that was produced unintentionally rather than organically, and it continues to gain recognition as it pops up in fresh fragrances today.

Story has it that calone was produced unintentionally by pharmacy giant Pfizer in 1966. The haphazard, but fruitful, laboratory discovery is known by its scientific name, methlbenzodioxepinone, and was trademarked Calone 1951 by Pfizer and has been used in fragrances ever since.

The synthetic compound is meant to replicate the light and airy essence of the seashore and is most commonly used in watery, beach-inspired fragrances.

In fact, calone’s structure is similar to the pheromone compound produced by brown algae, which is thought to give it its salty, oceanic personality. The Pfizer molecule is credited with kickstarting the marine-inspired trend so popular in the minimalist-loving 1990s.


Calone is easily recognizable by those coming of age in that final 20th-century decade as it was spritzed on every New Kids On The Block-loving teen in the form of Davidoff’s Cool Water, an aromatic toilette that mixed calone with mint, lavender, jasmine and musk. A quick trip to the company website declares the spritz—25 years after its launch—as “The quintessential ocean fragrance…”

To experience the light and airy essence enabled by Pfizer’s trendsetting molecule, try calone as rendered in some of today’s popular scents, from Issey Miyake’s iconic L’Eau d’Issey to Giorgio Armani’s Mediterranean beach-inspired Acqua di Gio and Gucci’s Gucci Pour Homme.

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Deborah Fulsang has spent the last two decades as a journalist covering news and trends in the worlds of style—in fashion and beauty, design and décor, food and entertaining. Her long-held love of fragrance led her to launch The Whale & The Rose, a destination for all things perfume-related. Now, when she indulges in a crazy-expensive bottle of fragrance, she can do so guilt-free. Well almost. It’s all in the name of research after all.