Downtown Calvin Klein test drive

Downtown Calvin Klein test drive

By Deborah Fulsang

First impression: Love the Downtown name. How was it not taken? But this toilette is sweet and pretty. And sorry Calvin but so not downtown. Thinking Rooney Mara, the muse and face for the scent, would not be wearing this with her black leather and Givenchy.

Reminds me of: Preppy, pretty high-school girls; or pretty, preppy 20something girls.

The facts: Scent-wise, the execs at Calvin Klein define this as a “floral, woody.” From a laboratory hierarchy point of view, the notes are:
Top: Italian cedrat, bergamot, Tunisian neroli, green pear, watery plum
Heart: pink peppercorn, violet leaf, gardenia petals
Base: Texan cedarwood, incense, vetiver, velvet musks

What I really think: I wanted this to be dark and moody, even a bit weird. After all, it’s Calvin Klein, and Rooney Mara, and the name is Downtown.
And weird is often interesting. Weird in a good way, of course. Weird as in different. Weird the way ckOne was weird and different. Weird as in break-the-mould weird.
But this is very not weird. Spritzed on a blotter, this fragrance is not brooding, nor edgy and downtown. Not that it isn’t pretty. You get neroli and pear, a hit of gardenia and violet. But not too much of the spice, wood, incense or musk that I had anticipated. To be fair, I’m mainly objecting to the incongruity of the muse and the name with the actual scent.

From a fragrance review point of view, a true measure wouldn’t be complete without a skin test. That move warmed me up to the fragrance somewhat. I got more of the pepper, the plum, the wood and the musk—the warmth. As the hours wear on, the drydown of Downtown becomes more appealing. Problem is, I don’t think I should have to wait so long to be intrigued.

The rating: ★★/★★★★★

Downtown Calvin Klein EDT, $78 (50 ml); also in EDT rollerball and body lotion.  Available at major department stores, Sephora, Shoppers Drug Mart and Jean Coutu. 

Read our review of other fragrances. 


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Deborah Fulsang has spent the last two decades as a journalist covering news and trends in the worlds of style—in fashion and beauty, design and décor, food and entertaining. Her long-held love of fragrance led her to launch The Whale & The Rose, a destination for all things perfume-related. Now, when she indulges in a crazy-expensive bottle of fragrance, she can do so guilt-free. Well almost. It’s all in the name of research after all.