Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Obsession For Men

When I think of Obsession For Men, I think of the number "0", both because of the shape of its bottle and the fact that I get almost zero enjoyment out of this scent.  I've owned a bottle for a couple of years now, and no matter how hard I try and how many times I wear it, I feel nothing for this fragrance.  It's not terrible, but it's not particularly good either.  I initially liked it, but I've grown indifferent to it over time.

Obsession For Men was a big hit in the Eighties, but even then it was nothing spectacular.  I think it smells like a flat, watered down and sweet version of Opium or Cinnabar for women, both of which came before and are a lot better than this.  It should be simply called "All-Purpose Oriental", because it smells like a boring, generic mishmash of every cinnamon and amber based perfume that's been popular since the release of Shalimar.  Take Opium, Cinnabar, Shalimar, JHL and Catalyst For Men, pour them all into a barrel, add more amber, benzoin and vanilla, stir up the whole stew, and you've got Obsession For Men.  It's less than the sum of its parts.

It's heavy, syrupy and sweet, with a very harsh, synthetic smelling cinnamon 'n spice opening.  I like spicy fragrances, but this is just an annoying, heady mess.  Once all the spices tone down, you get a yawn-inducing slog of vanilla/benzoin/amber in the drydown.  It's a run-of-the-mill sweet oriental drydown you've smelled a million times before. 

The overall fragrance is crude and poorly blended, adding to its annoying character.  Crudeness can be a virtue in some powerhouse fragrances (e.g., Quorum, Arrogance Pour Homme, etc.), but not with orientals.  A good oriental should be smooth, warm, sultry, alluring and exotic.  Obsession For Men, on the other hand, smells cheap, heavy-handed and irritating.  It's like the Gilbert Gottfried of oriental fragrances.

MY RATING:  5/10

Fragrance House:  Calvin Klein

15 comments:

  1. I'm cooling off on Obsession, and warming up a little more than I'm comfortable with to Eternity for Men. If only CK could just put a leeeetle more thought into their formulas, maybe they'd get good at this oriental thing.

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    1. Same here. I initially liked Obsession, but quickly grew indifferent to it. I don't hate it, but I'm indifferent to it. I do like Eternity For Men - used to hate it years ago, but I like it now, even if it has a synthetic vibe to it. For a more natural take on the Eternity For Men type frag, try Perry Ellis Reserve (review to come).

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  2. Totally agree. Never met a CK frag that I liked and this is a perfect example of that.

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    1. I used to feel that way about CK frags too, but I've since found a couple I've liked, like Eternity For Men and Escape For Men.

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  3. I just sampled Chanel Pour Monsieur Concentree for the first time in a long time and felt the same way towards that one!

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    1. Wow, that's a blast from the past for me too. Back when it was rel'd, I bought a bottle, liked it, and used it up. However, the smell grated on me over time, and I was glad to finish the bottle. I haven't smelled it since, but I doubt I'll be revisiting Concentree again. It's that annoying nutmeg note that grates on my nerves.

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  4. I like Obsession for Men and have liked since its launch, but admit that it is not special nowadays, especially in today's formulation. Sometime ago i blind-bought Cartier's limited edition Eau Fine, and don't think i will ever have to wear Obsession again. Not when i have a smoother (albeit less stronger) and more refined version of the same smell and theme.

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    1. Hm, I've never heard of Eau Fine. I need to try it out now. "It's nothing special" describes Obsession perfectly.

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  5. I know that Shamu is not a stickler, generally, about reformulations but this one is indeed appreciably different and not in a good way. I had a bottle when it first came out. I tired of it quickly due to its overwhelming "cologney" vibe and grating sweetness. I switched to Santa Fe for a similar, better version of this style (I'm talking about '88-'90 here). Now, I don't own Obsession and don't often wear my bottle of Santa Fe. There are numerous spicy frags better than Obsession these days.

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    1. JHL is a far superior scent in this style, for example.

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    2. I don't remember what Obsession used to smell like, but I have to wonder if it was warmer and smoother. I have a bottle of Classic Match's knockoff of OFM, and it's a lot better than the stuff I just reviewed. I wonder if it's a knockoff of what OFM used to smell like.

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    3. The Classic Match knockoff is bettwer, but I still got very tired of it. I have read that the Classic Match is like the original formulation.

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    4. I kind of figured it copies an older version of OFM, considering Classic Match Drakkar copies the original version of Drakkar Noir. Classic Match makes great knockoffs, and is a boon for fans who seek out the smell of vintage formulas.

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  6. Bath and Body Works' WOODLAND fragrance also has a distinct Obsession flavor that's closer to the original. The original was a sillage monster that was more boozy than spicy, although spice was prominent. It just got very cloying in even moderately warm temperatures; any more than 1 spray was too much. Santa Fe for Men, Brooks Brothers 1818, Witness or Richard James EDT all do a better job of presenting a spice or booze combo.

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    1. Never tried Santa Fe or Richard James, but yes, BB1818 and Witness are both FAR superior fragrances.

      I wore Obsession again last night to a dinner function, hoping yet again to have a change of heart. It's annoying at how uninspired and cheap it smells.

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