Saturday, May 24, 2008

New Face, New Scent: CK Secret Obsession & Eva Mendes

According to a WWD article Calvin Klein is launching a new feminine fragrance this autumn, fronted by sexy Latina actress Eva Mendes to a storm of controversy involving network censors. It was only the other day we were talking about the provocative advertising of original Obsession and here we are again!

The new floriental fragrance, named Secret Obsession, is due out in mid-September. Secret Obsession's juice was produced by Givaudan and art-directed by Ann Gottlieb and encompasses the following notes:
Top: exotic plum, mace and damascena rose
Heart: Egyptian jasmine, French orange flower and tuberose
Base: cashmere woods (a popular aromachemical smelling woody/musky), burnt amber, Madagascar vanilla and Australian sandalwood (since the Mysore variety from India is heavily restricted).

Mendes reportedly really loved it as soon as she tried it! She could be earning $3 million to $5 million over the life of a three-year contract for representing the fragrance, so she would say that, wouldn't she? Still, the composition sounds decent enough, so we will wait and see.
Right now it is the campaign that has the world abuzz. The ad campaign was art-directed by Fabien Baron and the commercials and print ads were shot by Steven Meisel.

"The Obsession brand resonates in a very provocative place," said Catherine Walsh, senior vice president of American fragrances for Coty Prestige, which holds the Calvin Klein Fragrances license. "And we wanted to do a provocative ad. But we're not trying to be raunchy. There's a lot of skin, but it's done tastefully."
Evidently not tastefully enough for the network censors, who have banned the ad. "Every time we do TV [with the Calvin brand] it comes back with some sort of push-back from the networks — but nothing like this. This time," she vowed, "we're going to fight."

Rumours say that it's a combination of what Mendes says — and doesn't say — to the accompaniment of provocative music and lots of skin. Reportedly the ad is open to interpretation, having Mendes talk about a sexy secret, leaving a lot to the imagination, which might conjure up wilder thoughts than what is actually happening. Coty executives declined to reveal the spot before its official unveiling which will happen in early June. (so stay tuned, we will present it when it airs!)

Mendes will also star in Calvin Klein's new women's underwear campaign this fall. According to Mendes herself, she was attracted by the idea of freedom of expression and the chance to appear different in a mainsteam venue:
"When I was approached by Calvin Klein, I thought that it would be so satisfying for me to be part of a campaign where I could show women and girls that it's okay to be different. I remember when the Obsession ads with Kate Moss came out— I thought she was so gorgeous. Kate wasn't a conventional beauty, her teeth weren't perfect and she wasn't blonde; my friends and I could relate to that. If I could provide that encouragement for someone with the Secret Obsession campaign, that would be amazing."
However executives are quick to point out that the new fragrance is really not a new twist, but a completely different perfume with merely a sexy image to share. "This is no flanker," said Walsh. Obviously the meaning of flanker eludes them, as the term is generally being used for fragrances that borrow the name or part thereof of a successful fragrance to boost the recognition factor of a new one. But maybe that's too subtle or splitting hairs.
"Obsession put Calvin Klein on the map in 1985 and continues to be an integral piece of the brand portfolio," added Michele Scannavini, president of Coty Prestige. "Over two decades later, we see it come full circle with Secret Obsession. While Obsession epitomized the overt glamour and sexuality of the Eighties, Secret Obsession will become the meaning of what is sexy today — more personal, sophisticated and intoxicating. Eva Mendes is a reflection of how things have changed over the past 20 years."

Eaux de parfum will be sold in three sizes: 1 oz. for $40, 1.7 oz. for $55 and 3.4 oz. for $72. (The 1-oz. size will be exclusive to Sephora). Two ancillaries will also be sold: a 6.7-oz. body lotion for $38 and a 6.7- oz. shower gel for $30. The scent will be available in about 2,200 department and specialty stores in the U.S. Globally, it will be available in all markets in which the Calvin Klein brand is sold.

Just as an aside: Eva Mendes is no stranger to glossies and advertising as she has posed for Revlon and neither to provocation, as attested by the following film in which she flaunts her assets alongside Joaquin Phoenix to the sound of Heart of Glass : We Own the Night.

So what say you: yay or nay for Eva Mendes and the new fragrance?

Pic via WWD.


  1. That is completely not safe for work! But on to Ms. Mendes, I say finally! Provocation is the usual for Calvin Klein so I really don't expect anything else, but it is nice to see Klein going beyond his usual caucasion model fixation and also exceptionally skinny model fixation. Mendes is gorgeous and for an actress on the healthy side of thin. I admit I haven't really been impressed with her overall acting range, but I do love the fact she got on MTV while promoting a movie, and when asked some sort of stupid food question. Her response was basically get off my back and a girl has to eat.

  2. Anonymous17:06

    what struck me was the marketing b.s. "SO will become the meaning of what is sexy today - more personal, sophisticated and intoxicating."

    what reality are they living in? those things have always been sexy, but they're so much less in evidence these days! maybe if they looked twenty years back from 1985, but not now.

    if they'd said they hope to bring those things back into play, it would've had more basis in reality. then again, it's perfume marketing, what am i thinking. reality has nothing to do with it!

    at least the notes sound promising. and the first obsession was pretty darn good for what it was.

    - minette

  3. Jen,

    thanks for the additional info on the MTV appearence: I agree, she has a healthy body and very attractive at that!
    It's nice to see more varied role-models in advertising in general (be it weight, ethinicity etc).

  4. Dear M,

    perfume ad copy is notorious for saying the most incredible things with utter conviction, so I am not surprised. Today's world has become very crass in the provocation stakes: it's so difficult to provoke any more exactly because everything has been done and revealed already ad nauseum.
    Indeed, I think maybe they're aiming at bringing back a kind of bombshell image, but with an ethnic background (which is good on two scores!).

    Let's see: the fragrance sounds decent! I am curious to see what they have done ~thank God, it's a floriental, which is a welcome arrival instead of a fruity floral (if only it's not another Angel derivative merely baptised floriental...)

  5. I say Yay! I definately love ms. Mendes, a modern bombshell and the jus sounds good too. I might just venture out to sniff it upon release and take a break from the more classical/vintage stuff I 've been drawn to lately.

    Loving the posts lately!

  6. Thanks PQ for stopping by and commenting and for the compliment :-)

    Indeed we should withhold judgement until we have tested it. Eva is as good a fronting image as any and it was about time we turned to modern bombshells instead of emaciated models.

  7. I think Eva Mendez is stunning and the fragrance description sounds sniff-worthy. (Plum is an attention getting note for me.) I predict this fragrance will be a big hit for the Calvin Klein brand.

  8. Thanks Mary for dropping by :-)Hope you're having a lovely Memorial weekend.

    Plum is a good note (and not done to death!), I agree with you, and Mendes is unusual enough, yet also familiar enough, to guarantee recognition and perhaps a desire to emulate. They're very optimistic about sales themselves, I've noticed!

  9. Those notes do sound alluring. Of course, I am an old, jaded perfume junkie, so I know that notes can be cruelly deceptive. I'll definitely give it a sniff, though.

    Eva is adorable. She can sell anything she likes.

  10. LOL, you're bang on the money, M! On all acounts :-)

    Hope you had a good holiday!

  11. Anonymous10:26

    As i loved the original Obsession but find the notes VERY intrigueing (plum, mace, jasmine, tuberose, sandalwood are all things i love in a scent) i say yay-to testing it and to being curious. What itreally IS, is on another page of the diary, of course.
    But let's see.
    I also like the bottle (which DOES look like a flanker bottle, btw.).


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