Obsession for Men & Obsession Night for Men (Calvin Klein)

Something about Obsession for Men appeals to my dark side. Perhaps because it's named after something in the DSM, or those weirdo '80s commercials successfully worked their subliminal magic, but this "cheap oriental" is noteworthy. I only know the original formula (still have a 25 yr-old splash bottle), and cannot comment on its current incarnation, but the classic stuff made a lasting impression. Bob Slattery, whoever he is, should be applauded for his one and only fragrance contribution. Wish I knew what happened to him. If Obsession was his creative starting point, imagine where he could have ended up.

Obsession for Men is, in my opinion, the only serious masculine scent released by this company. Forget your Eternities (the flankers for which go on eternally), your Escapes, your Contradictions, and your Truths. Obsession is THE Everyman oriental of the 1980s. It has sex appeal in spades, particularly if you consider the breadth of its popularity. Its simple arrangement of herbs and spices, flushed with citrus and based on a familiarly warm amber, feels distinctly formal at first. Eventually it dries into a eugenol-fueled soapy cleanness that projects for miles and lasts for days. Obsession is like Old Spice on steroids. It isn't exactly high art, but it smells good and has a very manly aura that I can appreciate. Why does it have to be so hard with today's CK lineup? If only Calvin Klein would flush the kiddie juice and return to orientals like this. My guess is the current version lacks the fidelity of the original. Many '80s gems that used to exhibit fierce analog qualities are now flat, digitized, emotionless shadows of their former selves. Hopefully I'm wrong regarding Obsession.

As for Obsession Night for Men . . .

. . . Well, things didn't quite work out they way I wanted them to. The concept is fair enough: take lemon, grapefruit, pear, and other fruity, apple-like esters; weld everything to cardamom, suede, a dollop of patchouli, inedible vanilla. Shake and serve chilled. Sounds nice enough, but it falls flat, and I don't know why. I'm tempted to blame the listlessness on a common issue with CK scents - their poor longevity. Obsession Night goes strong for all of twenty minutes before dropping like a sack of potatoes into the skin-scent abyss.

Another problem is that Obsession Night bears no relation to the original Obsession. Orientals automatically lend themselves to being "night" scents. One supposes a little darkening of the formula, with added spices and some burnt sugar, is enough tweaking to yield a whole new beast. Evidently the boardroom suits had their way and voted for the "safe" and genuinely cheap (not Luca Turin's cheap) formula. I don't mean to suggest that it smells bad - quite the opposite, actually. Obsession Night for Men is a very nice scent, a postmodern leather with a pleasantly fruity personality. But it doesn't smell dark, or serious, or like anything I enjoy in the original perfume. I guess its discontinuation is a blessing in disguise - now there aren't as many opportunities for me to get wrapped up in this scent. I'd probably purchase a new bottle of the original to compare, and be out a whole bunch of money. This is one variation I can leave on warehouse shelves without regret, although I wouldn't discourage anyone from trying it - you never know what you'll attract.

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