Calvin Klein Obsessed winks at its powerhouse perfume past

Calvin Klein Obsessed winks at its powerhouse perfume past

Calvin Klein’s Obsession made fragrance history in 1985, and now the brand takes its cue from that blockbuster with its new Obsessed perfumes for men and women.

In 1993 the world was treated to Calvin Klein’s Obsession campaign starring a then-18-year-old Kate Moss photographed by her then-boyfriend Mario Sorrenti. The stripped-back and intimate campaign was the first major international spot for Moss. It was a campaign that helped solidify the visual style that is now a signature of Calvin Klein advertising campaigns.

Now, almost 25 years later, not only has the brand revisited the images from the shoot, but they’ve also revisited the fragrance itself. Meet, Calvin Klein Obsessed.

The new fragrances

Obsession, originally released in 1985, was a spicy and oriental fragrance—despite the minimalism of Moss’ campaign in 1993. Notes of vanilla, peach, incense, sandalwood, oakmoss and amber dominated. The goal with the new Obsession-inspired scents (there is both a men’s and a women’s spritz) was to relive that original moment as a memory—sort of a palimpsest of that original campaign.

“I suppose you could say we were obsessed by Obsession,” says chief creative officer Raf Simons. “We thought about a scent that could reflect such an idea of memory and desire for today. Of male and female, of the memory of somebody else on your skin.”

The new Calvin Klein Obsessed For Her takes that oriental memory and adds an aromatic and green touch. Citrus, neroli and elemi mingle with lavendar and sage and dry down to reveal musk and ambrette. For a fragrance named Obsessed, it’s surprisingly fresh, but very true to that fresh CK ethos. Though marketed to women, this perfume could easily be a unisex option.

The new For Him scent (the original was spicy and woody), maintains its woody history. Notes of grapefruit, pepper, cardamom, leather, labdanum, patchouli and vanilla combine to deliver a full and fresh fragrance. A leather-and-grapefruit greeting deliver a surprising and positive first impression, and then, vanilla adds a hint of sweetness. Again, this is marketed to men, but there’s a serious blurring of gender lines here.

The new campaign

It might be a bit of a misnomer to call this campaign “new”. Raf Simons and Pieter Mulier, creative director at Calvin Klein, poured over the Obsession archives and discovered many great unused images from the 1993 campaign. They decided now was a good time to revisit the imagery. “It is a story of an iconic and inspiring moment in fashion photography,” says Mulier. “We wanted memory, the visual and the sensual to intertwine today.”

The bottles

Obsession lovers will recognize the simple rounded silhouette of the original bottle in these just-released designs. The clear eaux now live in completely clear bottles; most will remember Obsession’s golden hue, by contrast. The font on the bottle has also been further updated, though it remains—like all that walks down that Calvin Klein runway—simple, streamlined and refined.

Calvin Klein Obsessed For Women, $106 (100 ml), and For Men, $75 (75 ml),

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Alexandra Donaldson is the editorial assistant at The Whale & The Rose and a freelance writer and content creator. Although she recently took up yoga in an effort to be a healthy adult, she still binge-watches cartoons on a regular basis and dreams of running away to a cottage in the woods. She has yet to nail down her favourite perfume, but knows that it smells green, earthy and maybe a little bit spicy, but definitely not sweet.