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MIA Review: Eternity Eau de Parfum for Men by Calvin Klein (2019)

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This is a review for a perfume not yet in the Basenotes Directory. I will move the review to the directory and hide this blog entry once the perfume is added to the database.


Calvin Klein seems to be having trouble with where to go next concerning some of its largest and best-selling lines. Eternity for Men (1989) was a watershed release that not only rekindled interest in the fougère genre beyond the tired barbershop varieties and the overbearing musky powerhouses that were starting to overstay their welcome by the end of the 1980’s, but also invigorated the genre by creating the off-shoot known as the “fresh fougère”, a staple scent category that would run for the next twenty years unchallenged outside aquatics until oakmoss restriction forced perfumers into turning elsewhere. In the span since a scent like the original Eternity for Men had started falling out-of-fashion (yet remains bizarrely ever-popular), Calvin Klein has tried numerous times in vain to create a follow-up smash success in the form of a new pillar that almost always falls on deaf ears, while simultaneously milking whatever cachet remains of evergreen nameplates like Eternity with an endless wave of flankers both seasonal and permanent. We’ve had so many flankers featuring different elements that one might expect combining them could summon Calvin Klein himself as if he were Captain Planet, but here we have something altogether different in nature. Calvin Klein Eternity for Men Eau de Parfum (2019) is a proper eau de parfum retooling of the iconic classic, and is not simply “a stronger Eternity” since higher concentrations of modern perfumes seldom work that way. What Eternity for Men Eau de Parfum is may be hard to fully determine, but I know what is isn’t: a fougère. Yep, you heard that right: Eternity for Men Eau de Parfum isn’t a fougère, or at least not exactly one anyway. Of course, in the light of oakmoss only being usable under IFRA regulations if it is processed to be almost free of atranol, not even the original pillar is much of a fougère by definition, since a brand like Calvin Klein won’t pay the price for expensive denatured evernia prunastri at the economy of scale they need and instead stuffs the newest formulatons of the original eau de toilette with a chemical replacer called evernyl, thus calling it a day.

With this eau de parfum variant, which is exactly 30 years late to the party, Calvin Klein chose to build up the famous Eternity for Men accord from ambroxan, the synthetic base-du-jour of almost all designer masculines since 2010. There maybe be a touch of evernyl here just as a link back, but otherwise Eternity for Men Eau de Parfum is an altogether different animal from the “fresh fougère” of the original eau de toilette. The opening features a sweet and tart green apple note replacing the mild calone shimmer of the original, which was labelled as the “green botanics”, while sage and lavender switch places in the top. The lavender being pushed down into the heart with geranium is but one key change, as a slight ozonic note also enters the opening, recalling the fabulous disaster of Crave by Calvin Klein (2002), to a much lesser degree. The heart is also spiced up with a bit of nutmeg for body but this is by no means a spicy fragrance, just much rounder and richer than the OG. Apart from that, I can still say this strangely resembles Eternity for Men if it was made to be more of a cool-weather scent with more heft and less sparkle, like a flanker that would have actually been better-released in the 90’s as competition for something like YSL’s Opium pour Homme (1995). The base warms up with the faux-ambergris accord from ambroxan, some cypriol for a touch of sourness, a suede leather note very similar to Coach for Men (2017), polysantol for a sandalwood-like plushness, and some soapy orris with maybe just a pinch of mossiness. Anyone who appreciates a semi-oriental/woodyamber vibe and doesn’t mind some fruitiness and throwback barbershop tones in the mix is bound to like Eternity for Men Eau de Parfum, as it brushes against the concept of being old-school just enough to scratch the postmodernist itch of a young STEM professional who watches Regular Car Reviews about old Hondas on YouTube in his lunch hour, but isn’t dyed-in-the-wool enough to enjoy actual vintage flavors from the period like the original Eternity for Men. Wear time for this EdP is great at over 10 hours and sillage substantial, but projection is not a war cry like that of its dad.

It goes without saying that if you hate synthetics in perfumes you probably shouldn’t go near this or any Calvin Klein product beyond the launch perfumes back at the turn of the 1970’s/1980’s, as the house is practically ground-zero for all the synthetic development we’ve seen in mainstream perfumery thanks to futurism being one of the biggest quriks about the perfume arm of this particular designer. We are talking about the same house that gave us cK One (1994), so it reasons to argue that anyone decrying how synthetic this new eau de parfum flanker is just hasn’t been paying attention to Calvin Klein to know this is his thing, and has been for almost the entire existence of the brand. With that having been said, Eternity for Men Eau de Parfum is even more synthetic and surprisingly rougher in execution than expected from even this house, who at very least knows what they’re doing with aromachemicals most of the time, even if it isn’t usually to the liking of the typical niche or artisanal perfume fan. Because of this, fans of Calvin Klein overall still may see this as exceedingly synthetic or rushed, linear, and unexciting, although I maintain it does the best it can do as a long-overdue attempt at a flanker that actually tries to capture the essence of the original rather than just slap some unrelated juice into an Eternity for Men bottle like all those before it. Will I wear this? No, since I don’t find the original all that dated and see this as an inferior, redundant entry with marginally better longevity and cool-weather performance as the only trade-off. The eau de parfum may be a bit safer in a 21st century office setting than the original classic EdT, but little else about this Johnny-come-lately inspires interest. Better late than never, I guess. Neutral.
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