Calvin Klein Secret Obsession: Prelude to Love, a Review {Perfume Short} {Scented Thoughts}

The 39 Steps by Hitchcock via The Erotic Impulse

In typical fashion for our general approach and perception of a perfume, images come first and then the first inhale. How much this precedence of the visual over the olfactory guides our thoughts about a fragrance is hard to decipher, yet we can recognize this shaping, almost hierarchical quality of vision over our nose where fine fragrances are concerned (except when a reviewer is offered the opportunity to sniff unnamed and unadorned lab samples, but then again, we see something before we smell it). Left to fend off in a less civilized environment or simply put in such conditions as to be able to smell natural aromas freely and unaware, the relationship of precedence inverses and we will experience oftentimes the sudden intrusiveness of a smell before finding its origin and identifying it with the help of our sight as we request for further clarification.

We talked at length already about the images surrounding Secret Obsession by Calvin Klein and the brand made sure the images around the new perfume would be arresting around the idea of nakedness and feminine desire...
The core belief revealed by the general marketing approach is to elicit dreaming and encourage imaginings of a perfume first through images. I am not sure the reverse has been attempted, like dousing a room full of people with an anonymous scent. In fact, Prada recently demonstrated in a particularly convinced fashion that one simply had to forgo the scent itself first and concentrate on workings of the imagination through seeing a number of visual interpretations of their new cologne, Prada Infusion d'Homme. A journalist who attended the event complained about the brutality of this treatment.

Added to this general vision-over-smell-precedence phenomenon where fine perfumery is concerned is the gradualist approach favored by marketeers. Indeed, like in an erotic approach, the perfume is made to perform a strip-tease over the course of several months in which you will slowly discover more and more information about the scent before the final encounter. The delightful French term "effeuillage" is particularly evocative of this idea of taking off layer after layer before finally getting to the naked perfume.

It is particularly fitting therefore that Calvin Klein, before releasing the perfume itself, is sending out a sexy scented bracelet which closes up with a pair of gold-toned handcuffs. The erotic allusion is two-fold, as in a metonymy and a metaphor. It both suggests amorous games and points to the erotic process of slow unveiling of a perfume. 

The bracelet was imbibed with Secret Obsession and gives you a first, rough idea about its personality. I can't call this a review of the perfume itself but I don't think it's too perilous to say that certain elements of information surface nevertheless.

Secret Obsession appears to be related to Obsession, not just in name but in perfume notes as well. Its personality seems to be that of a medium to dark amber-y and woody oriental with a soapy facet. It is also spicy and plummy and rosy with an understated exotic touch. Its sensuality is comparable to that of Obsession, the perfume that I would personally exhibit to prove that Americans do not just like clean scents (especially in the pure-extrait version, which has a very marked animalic, dirty personality).

After a few days left to evaporate on a table, the perfume catches you by the nostrils unaware, as if you were taking a walk in an unknown forest, and it smells insinuating and seductive, better this way than when conciously smelt.    

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2 Comments | Leave a comment

  1. Very interesting approach! But also, how much of the images and dreams are left outside Sephora in an universe with so many fragrances...?

    Octavian Coifan
    • I think I see what you mean. You think that most people's imaginations will be invested by the cues given by a popular fragrance market-place like Sephora? I think you might need to clarify what you mean by that remark for us :)

      Sephora, incidentally, is one of the few places that understand that customers need samples to bring back home to live a little with a fragrance. They should be applauded for that.

      Chant Wagner

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