A few months ago, I reviewed Eternity For Men, and mentioned how it was one among a handful of fragrances that perfume enthusiasts love to criticize. Enter 1993's Escape For Men by Calvin Klein, another whipping boy for the aspiring fragrance snob. I'm not saying that you have to like this scent, or that you're a snob if you don't like it. I just think that because Escape For Men was a mass-market fragrance from a well known designer firm, some people are automatically going to think negatively about it, before even smelling it. If you don't like Escape, or if you have never tried it, I think it's important to put it in historical perspective.
For me, the 1990s, particularly the mid-to-late Nineties, produced some of the worst fragrances in history. It was an era of weak-ass aquatic and sport scents that were about as ubiquitous as a gallon of milk at a supermarket. Wimpiness and androgyny were considered to be assets in a perfume back then, and crap like Nautica (now called Nautica Classic) and L'Eau d'Issey were all the rage. It was awful.
Before all those silly fragrances took over the market, however, there was a style of woody, spicy men's colognes in the early Nineties that was popular. Though they didn't have face-melting power, these fragrances, in retrospect, seemed like a final gasp of the powerhouse fragrance style of the 1980s, before Acqua di Gio killed it off for good. This spicy style can be smelled in early 90's scents like New West For Him, Horizon, Catalyst For Men, Lagerfeld Photo, and this one, Escape For Men.
Escape For Men may not be unique, but it's so much better than it's given credit for. I've read a lot of reviews of it, and I don't agree with most reviewers' perceptions of it. First, it's often described as being "like a fruit cocktail at the beach". No way - when I read something like that, I immediately think of pina coladas and Hawaiian Tropic suntan lotion. Escape smells nothing like that. I've also read reviews describing it as sweet and fruity. Although I do smell citruses like grapefruit and melon in the top notes, this is not a sweet fragrance at all. Most reviews I've read also say that Escape For Men is a summer scent, and is unsuitable for winter. I couldn't disagree more. Escape is great for any season - it's crisp and dry enough to wear in hot weather, yet spicy, mossy and substantial enough to smell great in the dead of winter.
No, Escape For Men is a very masculine, spicy and woody fragrance. So many reviewers focus on its fruitiness, but I perceive Escape as being primarily spicy, not fruity. It's dry, not sweet, and the strong aromatics like nutmeg, sage, patchouli, rosemary and vetiver add a slightly dark hue to the scent. There are a lot of wood notes listed for Escape: sandalwood, fir, cypress, birch and vetiver, but I can't detect any of those woods' unique qualities. The woods serve more to dry out the scent and enhance its spicy facets. The oakmoss and patchouli in the base notes do a good job of adding just a touch of sweetness underneath all that sandpaper-like texture, without making Escape a sweet or heavy fragrance.
Escape For Men's woody spicy style has never completely gone out of fashion, yet you don't often find fragrances made nowadays that smell quite like it. Escape definitely has that early Nineties, post-powerhouse style. As a result, some people might find it a little bit dated.
Me? I don't find it dated at all. I just think it smells awesome, and totally masculine in every way. It's an addictive scent, smelling better and better as the hours pass, eventually reaching perfect balance and equilibrium in the woody, mossy drydown. It's a great fragrance, and is appropriate for every occasion, for men of any age group.
MY RATING: 8.5/10
Fragrance House: Calvin Klein