Obsession (for women, 1985) and Obsession for men (1986) were the natural products of such a period. Loud, brash, gold jewelry statement, knock-your-socks-off scents, full of the inherited warmth of their French counterparts (the success of the Opium perfume by Yves Saint Laurent fresh on the collective memory), but very American in their stylized presentation. And who could forget those infamous advertisements with the naked bodies standing atop a hammock in black and white, shot by Bruce Weber? Ann Gottlieb, creative director for Klein fragrances and responsible for countless commercial hits for countless brands, had demanded "sexy with a touch of raunchiness" and possibly, as it has been argued, got the balance reversed. But that's not a bad thing.
The person credited with the creation of Obsession for Men, a certain Robert Slattery, unaccredited for anything else, got the raunchy and sexy in spades by relying on the tension between trustworthy materials: mandarin on top contrasting with warm amber on the bottom, nutmeg and cinnamon spicing it up, giving a certain piquancy which recalls a man-made space somewhere in the late 80s, early 90s; gregarious, evening-time, where people smoke and drink freely, and where confident men in lots of aftershave prowl for the casual encounters of the evening, their own clean sweat mingled with the adrenaline of the flirting. It was a happier time, a less controlled time, and a time when anything seemed possible. Or, perhaps, it was a time when we felt ready for anything.
Obsession for Men in its current format feels watered down and lacking that density which sealed its unmistakable presence, but it still is a great trip down memory lane.