Perfume Directory

Obsession for Men (1986)
by Calvin Klein


Obsession for Men information

Year of Launch1986
AvailabilityIn Production
Average Rating
(based on 844 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

This review is for the original version.

Opulent, in your face, unique, mesmerizing, seductive. These are just some of the things that spring to mind when I think of CK Obsession. Reminds me of the 90's. Holds a special place in my heart.

I will add that the current version is a pile of piss. I mean it is disgusting. One of the worst things I have ever smelt.

In its original formula it was a 9/10 for me.
03rd October, 2018 (last edited: 01st November, 2018)
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 in a few short years after being bested by rivals that managed more distinct and mossy bergamot bombs. Collectors clamor over it as underappreciated and misunderstood godhead, or "the only good Calvin Klein" but it's function was limited to just a "good" powerhouse in the face of far superior competition and such suppositions are utterly ridiculous anyway. Obsession for Men (1986) was quite the opposite from CK's previous masculine, as it wasn't even built from the ground up as a man's eau 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 (1982) 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 became so iconic with it's Kate Moss advertising campaign that even folks who've never worn or sniffed the stuff sometimes remember it, and even close to the quarter-century mark, you can occasionally smell it in men's locker rooms or on guys stepping out into the night (as I have), making Obsession the most iconic masculine from the house besides Eternity for Men (1989). There was even a scent released in 2017 called "Obsessed" that was more of a modern "look back" on the impact of Obsession, made under the concept of "how it would be done now" in 2017. If there's only one oriental in a man's wardrobe besides Old Spice (1937), it's likely this.

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 (1982), 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 envelope whereas both genders of Obsession disappear into each other and become one. Modern versions of this tone down some of the richer facets but the scent never relied heavily on moss since it was more of an amber-powered spice beast, so outside of some sillage and longevity issues, any iteration of this is acceptable, with newer versions being a bit easier to control. The clove, lavender, and nutmeg sort of pair to make a caramel ghost note to my nose, and it's often been said by others who smell me that I do in fact smell like some sort of really good caramel, so take that as you will when giving this a spin. It would be the last time Calvin Klein played with mostly traditional fragrance elements going forward, as Eternity for Men began the use of synthetics and customized captives that would not only establish a new style of perfume, but become CK's niche as they took it further than anyone else even after it became the mainstream standard. Newer versions of Obsession for Men are likely also stuffed with some synthetic proxies for IFRA standards and cost-meeting, but they're likely the discreet kind and not part of the scent pyramid as it were. Later scents like Boucheron's Jaïpur Homme (1997) Fragonard Siecle (1998), and Penhaligon's Endymion (2003) would borrow heavily from Obsession for Men's dynamic.

Obsession for Men 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 as some are "Obsession" in name alone. 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. I'd still save this for romantic and evening use if worn, when the air has a slight chill, because Calvin Klein Obsession for Men is a scary thing indeed in the summer heat. In conclusion, Obsession was only the second and final powerhouse in the masculine side of Calvin Klein's stable, and the last masculine made by the house until 2011 that wasn't a freshie or aquatic, as the house nearly invented the style and would perpetuate it until the idea finally ran out of gas two decades later. It's an essential piece for most men wanting a romantic evening, and even if somewhat dated after 3 decades, is so widely recognized that most folks won't even think about that when they smell it on you.
24th January, 2018 (last edited: 05th October, 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

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