3/24/13

CK Be (Calvin Klein)



Of this depressing fougère, Luca Turin inexplicably wrote: ""Though less radiant, [CK Be] perfectly hits the spot for those who want a fragrance not just to evoke a faded memory, but to smell like one." I agree, if that faded memory is of being dumped and humiliated after your senior prom, just when you thought two hours of slow dancing and a shared bottle of Leroux would pay off. I've never been a fan of CK fragrances - they strike me as being a collection of synthetics at a remarkably high dilution - but Be is the most puzzling of the brand's "successes." Its composition is so devoid of charisma and so blatantly lacking in quality that I wonder how anyone can be bothered to wear it. I for one certainly can't.

There are a few basenoters and fragranticans who assert that Be has been drastically reformulated since its release in 1996, and that Ann Gottlieb (of Marc Jacobs' Bang fame) had nothing to do with the cheapening of its materials, but I'm not really buying that. CK has always made cheap-smelling fragrances, and any reformulation would not alter those characteristics enough to warrant mentioning. I still have a bottle of the original formulation of Obsession for Men, and though it smells a bit smoother than the current formula, it nevertheless smells of essential oil bar soap. I also recall CK One smelling remarkably chemical and raspy back when I was in high school. Guess what? Still smells that way today. So CK Be, while aged and perhaps reformulated to better suit contemporary tastes, still smells like itself to me.

It is, when all is said and done, a staid aromatic fougère. Its notes include lavender, bergamot, sandalwood, stone fruits, amber, violet leaf, cedar, vanilla, and white musk. For lavender, take Caron Pour un Homme's, strip away the actual lavender oil, and just leave the plastic aromatic halo effect of that herb - presto! You have the lavender in Be. For bergamot, put Moustache's in a dehydrator for three days. Superb, you have Be's bergamot. For Sandalwood, refer to the sandalwood in Caswell-Massey's sandalwood soap. Except the soap smells better. You get the idea. And each note is weaker than spray deodorant. Unsurprisingly, the white musk is the only ingredient that seems well wrought here, and why shouldn't it be? It's just another cheap synthetic. I don't know what spurred millions of people to buy Be when it was released (I'm guessing CK One had everything to do with it), but if you're voluntarily buying and wearing it today, you'd probably benefit from 300 mg of Bupropion.













12 comments:

  1. Those photos crack me up - the models look like they are scratching their body lice.

    I never got the appeal of CK One; it smelled like grapefruit and cat's piss to me. Then again, I'm far from being CK's target demographic, so why should they care? I just have to hold my breath if someone near me is wearing it.

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    1. CK One is absurdly synthetic. CK's whole emaciated Kate Moss thing is played out, as are their fragrances. I can tolerate others wearing One (and Be) but see no point in straying beyond Obsession when it comes to this brand, although Shock for Him is good too.

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  2. Of the CK stable, I quite like Contradiction For Men. Used to wear it when I was about 16. Wouldn't shy away from wearing it now, though I wouldn't actively pick it either. Funnily enough I tried Be recently in TK Maxx (British version of TJ Maxx), having vaguely remembered hearing it was one of the better CK offerings and... meh. It didn't smell unpleasant. It just smelled like a thousand and one other not-unpleasant fragrances of the same type. It also had really very bad longevity. Almost dropped out to nothing once the top notes were out of the way. I think even a teenager on a cheapie budget could do better, to be honest.

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    1. I've heard some good things about Contradiction, and recall Truth for Men being quite nice, although rather synthetic. Most CK frags don't exhibit a quality budget for materials, and so the compositions - skillful as they may be - wind up suffering and smelling crumby. Be is okay, kind of the essence of mediocrity, and once that's been established I can't really understand the appeal of wearing it. I was wearing Chanel as a teenager, and most teenagers have enough disposable income these days to at least shoot for something a notch better than these old CK frags.

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  3. I saw several online Youtube and fragrance reviews that mentioned CK Be highly, so I blind bought it. While not terrible, I don't get what ever sold it. I like it better than the CK One that the scent sniper at the department store hit me with on its launch, but I get the feeling it's going to live its life out as a room spray.

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    1. A room spray is the perfect application for CK Be! Sorry it's not working as a fine fragrance. And scent snipers suck (when they fire with something as sub-par as a CK scent).

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  4. I have long been baffled by the cult of CK One and to a lesser extent, Be. I completely agree about them being very synthetic - they strike me as a bit like flat lemonade with some residual fizz.

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    1. The only explanation for their success that I can confidently proffer is that teenagers are their main customer, and when people are that young they buy what smells conventionally "friendly" as these do. They're also relatively inexpensive, so a whole lotta teens made CK very rich.

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  5. So you were dumped and humiliated after prom. Or maybe you wore Obsession and held your dance card empty all night. Or maybe you stayed home and cried, scentless and depressed. I don't know but I sure hope you get past your snobbery. "No Bullshit Olfactory Perspective"? Is that like O'Reilly's "No Spin Zone"?

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    1. Hello there "Anonymous", nice to see you finally grew a pair and visited my blog to comment to me, instead of using Sherapop as your messenger. I'll tell you exactly how my prom went: I went out with the daughter of a Sicilian mobster, her dad owned and operated several seafood restaurants throughout Connecticut, before they were deported back to their homeland for tax evasion. It was a pleasant evening, and I took her as a favor because no one else wanted to. "No Bullshit Olfactory Perspective" means I don't tolerate any bullshit on this blog. You, my friend, are the personification of bullshit. Therefore, try as hard as you wish, pepper away with your comments if it suits you, but you will never be published on this blog again. Unlike Sherapop (who is kind in doing so), I don't humor rudeness here, even if you do have something relevant to say. So now that you've been enlightened, I will see you never. Whatever you write will vanish into thin air, unread, instantly deleted. I look forward to the understanding that you will waste your time in typing meaningless, unread whatevers from now until god knows when. You will not even be granted a retort to this comment. I get the last word. So congratulations - you've just been owned.

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  6. This is unremarkable and safe to me...an ideal gift for someone inexperienced with fragrance. You are correct about the musk being the only good thing on show here. I forgot I even sampled this at the store but 4 hours later I smelled my wrist and the musky drydown did impress me.

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    1. Yeah it's utterly forgettable, albeit wearable enough. I can see it being a good gift for a teenager.

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