I'd recognize Obsession anywhere. I bet that you would, too. Calvin Klein's direct offspring of Opium was everywhere during my formative years as a perfume-wearer. Not just the perfume itself, a blockbuster and ball-buster if there ever was one, but also the iconic imagery featuring a barely-legal Kate Moss. It's easy to forget that Moss wasn't the original face of Obsession: born in 1974, Kate Moss was only eleven when Calvin Klein launched the perfume. We were both too young to wear Obsession in the 1980s. I don't know about Kate, but I made up for it with a vengeance during the early-to-mid 1990s.
I no longer wear Obsession and haven't in years. I keep a small amount of the parfum for reference, but I've shed so much of my old self in the years since that Obsession no longer fits. It's not a rational thing, obviously, as I wear massive ambery orientals on a regular basis, and my views on beastly animalic perfumes is "Yes, please" and "Can I get some more". Seriously, I just spent a day in Youth Dew circa the Eisenhower administration, so you know it's not Calvin, it's me.
Beyond the imagery, beyond my days in Business School, beyond every memory of every other girl and woman who wore this perfume when I did, Calvin Klein's Obsession is a beautiful fragrance. It starts almost innocently with orange, slightly green and bitter citrus rinds, and a puddingy vanilla. The custard is also supported by a creamy sandalwood, and I sort of see (or smell) why some people get the idea of chocolate. Then there are spices, and lots of them. If Opium is the Cinnamon Queen, Obsession does the same thing with coriander and perhaps also cinnamon and allspice, immersing them in more vanilla, powder and amber.
The dry-down is all vanilla, incense, and- at least in parfum- a nice helping of civet. That's where the unbelievable sex appeal comes from. Obsession is as provocative as Tabu, with or without Kate Moss. It's no wonder that for my generation Obsession was part of the date night ritual. Dousing oneself in its rich and dark goodness, we were testing our own boundaries and asserting ourselves. The perfume's aggressive sillage and projection left no room for anyone else's personal space, but who cared? It was a declaration of intention and independence. It made us feel beautiful.
Notes: mandarin orange, vanilla, peach, basil, bergamot , lemon, spices, coriander, sandalwood, orange blossom, jasmine, oakmoss, cedar, rose, amber, musk, civet, vanilla, vetiver and incense.
The watered-down reformulation of Obsession is available anywhere mainstream perfumes are sold. There's more sugar and less backbone nowadays, and the longevity has shockingly diminished (who would have thought?). Yet Obsession is still as recognizable as ever, for better and for worse.