My open letter to Calvin Klein from a couple of months ago has picked up a lot of traffic recently, and while I’m happy that my ideas are being seen and shared I’m also afraid that the particular article might come off as an overall negative view of CK. After all, I basically spent over 1,000 words criticizing the guy for not supporting the (PRODUCT)RED project with his unfortunately named CK One Red Edition for Her. So today I want to turn things around and sing Mr. Klein’s praises, because even though he doesn’t always make for the greatest publicity, the fragrances he puts his name on are typically top-notch and even downright game changers.
Born in the Bronx in the early forties, Klein was practically raised to work in fashion. His grandmother was a seamstress, and his parents encouraged him to follow her footsteps and start his own company after graduating from the Fashion Institute of Technology in ’62. He started out making coats, but quickly became known for his women’s sportswear. As his following grew (thanks in large to ingenious and sometimes questionable marketing campaigns) Klein began to license everything from eye wear to intimate apparel, all plastered with his logo. Suddenly it became hip to have this designer’s name on your wallet, bag, shoes, and yes, on your butt.
His fragrance début came in 1981 with Calvin, a woody floral musk scent for men. However, you could argue that things didn’t really pick up until four years later with the introduction of Obsession, and then a year later with Obsession for Men. For Men was the winner for the 1987 FiFi Award, and with its powerful sweet cinnamon, amber, vanilla and sandalwood aroma that still managed to smell fresh became the scent of the decade, a trend that would continue for many generations after. FragranceNet.com was kind enough to send me all four of his most iconic men’s fragrances to share today, and I even picked up the newest one that they haven’t even had time to put up on the site yet. In case you’re not familiar, FragranceNet.com sells genuine designer beauty and grooming products for a fraction of the retail price. A 125 ml bottle of Obsession for Men, for example, is going for $20.99* (retail $89*) with the current promotion. Make sure to check them out using the banner links to see what else you can find for less!
After Obsession came Eternity for Men to open the nineties, and as a 90s kid myself it’s perhaps only fitting that this sits best on my skin of the bunch. Eternity for Men is an aromatic fougere with top notes of lavender and mandarin orange, spicy coriander in the heart, and clean musk and woodsy notes in the base. It smells like a freshly showered young man, the very type who would wear Calvin Klein designer jeans. If you’re ever in the mood for a sexy “boy next door” kind of fragrance, this is definitely the one to reach for. A recent date confirmed this smelled “so f***ing good” on me, and I’m not about to argue. The bottle is also timeless with its green fluid and cascading edges. Only $14.69* at FragranceNet.com.
This next one from 1994 marked a new direction for not only Klein but also the perfume industry as a whole. CK One was one of the first mass market fragrances marketed as entirely unisex, a perfume that could be worn equally well by men as by women. Perfumers Alberto Morillas and Harry Fremont created another clean, citrus fresh number with bright lemon notes, a bit of herbal greenery and subtle jasmine, and that classic musk Calvin is so fond of. CK One, with its massive flacon you could uncap and splash on, became a symbol of a new generation; the kids who wore this were free rebels, rule breakers and preppy trend setters alike. It evokes thoughts of summer, happiness, and new beginnings. This 100 ml bottle is going for $17.49* on FragranceNet.com.
In 2006 we saw the next big CK release with Euphoria Men, a return to traditional masculine fragrances but with a twist. Euphoria Men plays on the unpopular idea that sweet scents can be irresistible on men, and opens with a fabulous cantaloupe note that merges with ginger to evoke a springy picnic. They decided to switch things up for the base notes and incorporated Brazilian redwood and suede with amber and patchouli. It is perhaps Klein’s most mature fragrance despite being only a decade old. This 50 ml bottle is currently on FragranceNet.com for $20.99*.
Finally, hot off the press is CK2, a “gender free” perfume that reinterprets the lesser-known CK IN2U. Boasting some of the most unusual notes in the department store, CK2 contains wasabi, orris root, and even “pebbles.” Of course you also have more common ingredients like vetiver and violet leaf, but when I smell it on my skin I still think it’s odd. It smells sweet but tangy, and definitely earthy. It almost evokes both watermelon and rubber at the same time. I think it’s best to smell this one before purchasing, because it’s definitely something we haven’t seen from Klein (or anyone else) before.
So there you have it, five generations of Calvin Klein’s most famous scents. I’m curious to know if my readers are familiar with these, perhaps on an ex lover or a sibling. Let me know which feminine CK fragrances you think I should try next! Big thanks to Cynira for organizing this review.
*Prices true at time of writing.
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