It has taken me about, let's see, fourteen years to figure out Calvin Klein CONTRADICTION, but I do believe that I just had a breakthrough: this perfume is an aromatic pseudo-chypre! This evening I decided to pull out from the back of my armoire the long languishing cylinder hiding quietly in its sleek matte aluminum sheath, having been reminded of its existence by a soothing eucalyptus-spearmint bath courtesy of the BBW Aromatherapy line. Since I even used the eucalyptus hair conditioner, which remains fragrant long after rinsing, my compatible perfume choices were severely limited. But then it popped into my mind: Calvin Klein CONTRADICTION, the only perfume in my collection with a significant eucalyptus component.
There's probably a reason why perfumers do not often reach for eucalyptus, and the mixed reception to this creation, the sole member of the classic CK collection to have been discontinued (at least to my knowledge...), may have a lot to do with it. CONTRADICTION is so unexpected and just plain weird that I strongly suspect that were it poured into a Serge Lutens bottle with a new label slapped on, say, NUAGES VERTES-GRISATRES, it would be sought out and perhaps even worshipped by countless niche-ees (no, not Nietzsche, though my understanding is that he did spend some time in Eze, along a path that I myself walked to GrasseŚso who knows? Perhaps he, too, really loved perfume and his pilgrimage to the environs of Eze led to the perfume capital of the world as well? On ne sait jamais.) But I digress...
While coming to terms once again with CONTRADICTION, the donning of which is always an event in itself because it is so very ODD, it dawned on my that the extreme eccentricity of this composition reminds me very much of SJP COVET. No, not the notes or even the structure of the compositions: the two are completely different. But they are united in their extreme, obstinate refusal to respect the orthodox genres of perfume, in addition to their fundamentally "challenging" demeanor. It takes some time to come to an appreciation of these perfumes. Those who are looking for instant gratification need not apply, because these creations are really quite demanding. I have no doubt that many a sniffer gave them a quick whiff and then summarily dismissed them, relegating them forever to their own private dustbin of olfactory history. In the case of CONTRADICTION, the orchid, lily, eucalyptus, and about a million other notes together produce an utterly unique creation, like nothing else I've ever smelled. Yet it's not the perfumic equivalent to a garbage pizza. No, not at all. An appealing chypre texture and strangely harmonic effect ultimately arise out of what might at first seem to be sheer cacophony.
Surprise: I was delighted to discover just now (after having compared the two C's in my mind...) that the perfumer who produced this radically other perfume is none other than...drum roll...Ann Gottlieb: the creator of COVET! Brava, cara! I am truly impressed!
Ordinarily, according to my own explicitly stated evaluation criteria (in my profile), I would only be able to give a thumbs up to a perfume in my collection which I had every intention of replenishing, but my 100ml bottle of CONTRADICTION remains one-third full after, well, fourteen years. No matter: I'm going to contradict my own evaluation scheme in honor of this splendidly original perfume.
I wore this extensively throughout high school, and remembered it as being soft and warm with a kick of spice. When I found a mini at my local perfume shop, I quickly snatched it up and applied to wrist immediately upon getting home.
*sigh* Either my memory of this scent is off, or this mini is off, as the eucalyptus dominates all the way through the long dry down. It's medicinal, sharp, and not to my liking. I get hints of the scent I remembered in the background, but the eucalyptus kicks it backstage, not wanting it to steal its spotlight.
I suppose the usage of sharp and sweet might've been the point of Contradiction, and as high school was over 10 years ago my skin chemistry is more than likely just different. I'm glad to have a mini for the nostalgia but I have no need to get a full bottle.
Someone get Ann Gottlieb out of Calvin's kitchen!
But I kid. This isn't Man. I actually like this one. I accidentally bought the feminine Contradiction at a discount store a couple years back and tried it, and though I loved the rose in the opening the strange metallic note that surfaced scared me away. I subsequently gave it to a friend and she pulled it off beautifully. All the florals were present and the whole thing seemed to have more body. What the heck? Contradiction is certainly chemistry-dependent, but if you've got the genetic makeup this is a nice modern floral indeed.
Don't know what's not to love:
freshness of the eukalyptus added up with just a hamonious amount of juicy fresh pear, with a core of lilac and orchid as the main topic (still backed up by the omnipresent herbaceous freshness) and throughout there is the slight sweetness of tonka and earthyness of woods and amber.
It is the fresh ontake on the normal oriental vanilla. At least to my nose and with my body-pH it's perfect and perfectly interesting without being difficult to wear or hard on other people (like, mhhh, Just Me by Montana) and I'm angry with CK for stopping my most beloved fragrances by this brand: Truth and Contradiction. How can that be?
I never used to be all that keen on contradiction, but recently Ive come to like it, although it doesnt stay on for a great deal of time, not the most overpowering scent, but theres something in it which makes it interesting, maybe thats the eucalyptus