Perfume Directory

Obsession for Men (1986)
by Calvin Klein


Obsession for Men information

Year of Launch1986
AvailabilityIn Production
Average Rating
(based on 824 votes)

People and companies

HouseCalvin Klein
PerfumerBob Slattery
PackagingPierre Dinand
Parent CompanyBenckiser > Coty Inc > Coty Prestige
Parent Company at launchMinnetonka

About Obsession for Men

When Calvin Klein transformed his female Obsession into a unique fragrance for men, he created a popular classic. The fragrance is potent, powerful and intensely provocative with a blend of Bergamot, Lavender, Amber and Musk.

Obsession for Men fragrance notes

Reviews of Obsession for Men

Calvin Klein joined the pack with the debut masculine Calvin (1981), but while that scent tread the emerging powerhouse style, it did so within the confines of what was then convention, and thus was forgotten. Collectors clamor over it, but it's function was limited in the face of far superior rivals. Obsession for men was quite the opposite from CK's previous masculine, as it wasn't even built from the ground up as a man's toilette like Calvin, but rather was a men's "build" by perfumer Bob Slattery of the feminine oriental created a year before by Jean Guichard for the house. Men didn't see many orientals, although there were a notable few from the 70's and the beautiful JHL by Aramis four years before this, so guys were still mostly unaccustomed to rich and sweet smells marketed to them. Compound this relative uniqueness of Obsession's genre of choice with CK's "it" factor in men's ready-to-wear, lingerie, plus the blitz of advertising all around, and it's easy to see how this became so huge.

Obsession opens with mandarin orange and bergamot, which is a familiar combo found in such creamy concoctions, as orange is the roundest of the citrus top notes, without the bite of lime or juiciness of lemon. From there we have the unsurprising clove paired with bakery-delicious nutmeg, coriander, sage, and some lavender mixed with myrrh to heat things up for the thick bed of amber, patchouli, musk, sandalwood and vetiver in the base. This is classic oriental and not too far away from what women were wearing in the 1920's, and much like JHL, could be marketed accordingly if it was made back then. There isn't anything particularly complicated here, just pure old-fashioned oriental goodness keyed to what they felt a man would accept, and before long, nobody would even care about CK's "Calvin" anymore. This was the scent of romance in the 80's, the smell of candlelight dinners and slow dances, but when worn alongside a woman also wearing the feminine version, creates a whole whereas both genders of Obsession disappear into each other and become one.

Obsession has weathered a lot of changes in the decades since, but has changed very little itself outside of becoming a little thinner, more rattly, and shorter-lived. The vintage juice is every bit the powerhouse you might expect despite not being in that oakmoss bomb category, but the newest stuff will get you there all the same with heavier doses. Obsession created an army of flankers like most successful CK scents, but we won't speak of them here. This is not as sophisticated nor well-blended as it's older rival JHL, but far easier to find and honestly more accessible since it doesn't have a tobacco or leather note. Is it the superior of the two? Depends on if you prefer creamy orientals over robust ones, as they are both equally sweet in the end. This one is far more economical because it projects into infinity and lasts all day, but in modern times has also become a bit ubiquitous due to being a favorite of aging middle-managers that used to scoop dates with it in the 80's but think in the 21st century that it's acceptable work fragrance.
24th January, 2018
:-) I don't know vintage version ,i suppose it's beatiful . Actually version for me it's a neutral fragrance .it's a pretty sandalwood ,lavender a little chemicals .
17th January, 2018
TeeEm Show all reviews
United Kingdom
An old favourite.. I first came across it in 1989-90
Very spicy, non citrus (to me it smells like cinammon), I often confused it at the time with L'Egoiste by Chanel.

I bought it again last summer (2017 is a perfume nostalgia year for me as I turned 50 in Dec 2016) and still loving it.

Positive comments, strongish scent, goodish longevity and distance

06th January, 2018
Man, I don't like wearing this cologne. It's heavy, stuffy and cloying to me.
It's an oriental, very strong and heavy, and there's a lot of cinnamon and vanilla in there. Cinnamon isn't listed, so maybe it's nutmeg or clove that I'm smelling. But I thought it was cinnamon.
Anyway, like I said, I don't like wearing it, and I don't really differentiate this between younger/older guy-style. While it's distinctive and strong, I find it a little boring.
I can only see wearing this on really cold winter days, during the Christmas season. Wearing this to a Christmas gathering would make sense.
I thought maybe it just didn't work for me, but I've smelled it on others, and just found it far too simple and cinnamon-y.
I do respect the fragrance, I can see why it's popular, and I sometimes miss my old bottle, but this is something I simply don't wish to smell on myself or others.
21st August, 2017 (last edited: 04th January, 2018)
Spicier than Eternity for Men, but not spicy in a unique way. Almost a barbershop...but not enough a barbershop to be unique. A more rugged scent than most dept. store fragrances that start with citrus, then Lavender, then oakmoss, but not something I like.
22nd July, 2017
Early 1990s-memory provoker. The original formulation has muscle and flesh that the contemporary recipes lack. Vintage bottle from circa 1989 holding up perfectly — spicy amber that reeks of the handsome bridge and tunnel crowd, in the most desired way possible. In hindsight, complex and exciting; with today's eyes, fairly linear and myopic, but a pleasure center still all the way.
05th July, 2017

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