We had announced the news of the upcoming Calvin Klein fragrance back in May and with it a few musings on how these things work as well as commentary by its new face, sexy actress Eva Mendes; who (to her credit) had contributed a few words on body perception and beauty.
Now the fragrance rolled out to actually test it and the proof is in the pudding, so here we are doing a review of it, if only because we had always been great fans of the original Obsession, especially the one geared towards men.
"Secret Obsession explores the secrets that lie between love and madness. It's about being taunted with illicit thoughts and compelled with seeking pleasure.The fragrance is presented as a floriental, created by Givaudan perfumer Calice Becker and art-directed by Ann Gottlieb who is responsible for many Calvin Klein successful launches. To me however it registers as fruity-spicy-woody, much like the latest Lancome feminine fragrance Magnifique, with which it shares many facets. Poised between Sensuous and Magnifique, along with its congenial sisters, it heralds the new vogue in feminine fragrances: namely, woody, duskier notes.
The fragrance is an intoxicating floral oriental weaving together hidden fruits, exotic flowers and a sultry wood signature for a provocative and addictive sexiness.
Sultry. Addictive. Exotic."
The initial impression of spraying Secret Obsession is rum-like boozy with an alcoholic hairspray blast petering out quickly, plummy and ripe but not overtly sweet (a good thing!), especially compared with the overall sweeter Magnifique.
In Secret Obsession there is a distinct phase in which the resinous, intense aroma of mace provides a welcome surprise as the fragrance opens up on the warmth of skin. In the first century A.D., the Roman writer Pliny described a tree, Myristica fragrancs bearing a nut having two separate flavors. Nutmeg is one flavour coming from the kernel of the fruit and mace is the other. Mace comes from the outer, "lacy" reddish covering of the Myristica tree fruit, but it has a more delicate smell in comparison with nutmeg.
On the contrary, floral notes do not register much, which is surprising given the intense character of the flowers listed (orange blossom, jasmine, tuberose). If I were hard-pressed to put my finger on one, I would offer jasmine or the similar, denser note of ylang ylang, but in no way is this especially pronounced in the scheme of things, nor classical in treatment. Its creamy manipulation takes its cue from Songes by Goutal, but whereas the intense ylang ylang and natural jasmine of the latter contributed to a narcotic, intensely heady feel of being on an exotic island's orchard, in Secret Obsession we are met with a postard from the tropics that bears the handwriting of a past love. Perhaps like the gold-flecks of Fragile by Gaultier are meant to represent the confetti remnants of tuberose festivities, we are left with a trail of something past, instead of a presence of the here and now.
The overall effect is tanned skin, cocoa-buttyric, pleasantly cedary-woody, much of it accountable to Cashmeran* and is less loud than the oriental monochromatic amber of the original Obsession by Calvin Klein or the fruity megaphones of Euphoria, but perceptible.
Secret Obsession has a linear development that doesn't change much as you wear it: the initial scent becomes warmer and duskier, but doesn't change significantly over time. I wouldn't necessarily deem it too sexy or provocative and would prefer to see it in a body oil concentration where its shady character would shine.
The advertising takes a page off the usual Calvin Klein style: provocation, even if leading to negative publicity, is ultimately good publicity. Censors in the US have banned the commercial and the brand has decided to fight that decision.
The furore caused by the commercial didn't raise my eyebrows: just a beautiful woman, actress Eva Mendes, wriggling in bed naked, supposedly only clad by a few drops of Secret Obsession; it's rather well-made, if you ask me.
"It really taps into the secrecy of a private moment - where it's clear that Eva is having illicit thoughts," Lori Singer, vice president of global marketing for the brand at Coty Prestige, tells WWD. "It's somewhat up to interpretation - because of how it's shot, and what you see and hear, and what you can't see and hear. You hear her voice, talking about having a sexy secret."
Judging by the advertising concept, Marilyn Monroe is still a very influential icon, if the notion that a woman wears nothing but perfume in bed can be traced back to her own statement of opting for Chanel No.5. However those were conservative times and such an oral, and nota bene non visual, statement had the tantalising advantage of making people imagine Marilyn preparing for a lover who would get to profit from her alluring presence laced with a few seductive drops of a fine fragrance. This kind of mythos cemented the reputation of No.5 as not only elegant and prestigious, but also as a weapon of attraction. Those times, however, are over for better or worse.
The main difference I perceive with the current advertising for Secret Obsession is that Eva is implied to be alone in bed: there is no hinted lover about to emerge behind the lattice, thus making the images take a rather auto-erotic turn which might have caught censors off-guard.
Personally I fail to see how a soupcon of nipple is provocative or contributes to moral destruction, especially when bombs are let free to explode on prime-time TV news and shows. Such sort of selective censorship reeks of hypocricy to me. But perhaps my European eyes have become jaded, living at a place when clothes drop unhesitatingly at the drop of a pin on national TV without the programme earning the label of X-rated, while violent scenes and films often equal delegation to the after-hours zone.
In any case, the Fabien Baron directed commercial is available for your perusal, so you can judge for yourselves.
Eva Mendes- Secret Obsession Banned Commercial
Top: exotic plum, mace, rose Damascena
Heart: French orange blossom, Egyptian jasmine, tuberose, plum, woods
Base: cashmere woods*, burnt amber, Australian sandalwood
In the interests of disclosure, I received a free sample of the new Secret Obsession by Calvin Klein. No, not the bracelets they were advertising to bloggers! An actual decant (ie.hand-poured juice from a bigger bottle into a smaller one). Yes, you heard this right! Not a commercial carded sample, not a full bottle either (probably because I specify to anyone who asks that I need financial details so I can actually pay; that pretty much makes several of them vanish into thin air! The Calvin Klein people to their credit didn't.)
How to get hold of your own? Click here or here (and scroll)for your free sample of Secret Obsession.
Secret Obsession has just launched in Europe and is out on September 15 in the US according to the official info, available from major department stores in a brown glass bottle like a turtle's face, which tapers towards the top featuring an amber cap, sort of 70s retro.
Eau de Parfum 30ml/1oz, 50ml/1.7oz and 100ml/3.4oz. Satin Body Lotion and Satin Shower Gel in a 200ml/6.7oz tube each.
We're taunted to check out everything on it by searching "Secret Obsession Calvin Klein" on Facebook under the Pages tab and to visit the official Secret Obsession site.
*Cashmere woods or Cashmeran is a IFF patented, complex aromachemical that provides a beautiful, velours note with diffuse nuances of earthy-wood and spicy notes (pine, patchouli), fruits and flowers (heliotrope, red fruits, apples and jasmine) and is softly musky-vanillic. It's featured in Ysatis, Amarige, Michael, Lacroix Rouge, Perles de Lalique and many more.
Clip via celebriNet2/Dailymotion.com. Pic of nutmeg courtesy of mydiversekitchen.blog. Bottle pic via Osmoz