Calvin Klein Obsession: Vintage, Modern & Men’s

For perfumistas above a certain age, the name “Obsession” typically carries a host of memories. Maybe you wore it or maybe you were just assaulted by it from every corner. Either way, you’re bound to have some scent memory of the fragrance. Today, I will share with you reviews of three different versions.

Obsession for Men, vintage version

I loved Obsession and wore it during one year in high school until the fragrance became too ubiquitous for me. Last December, while waiting in CVS to get my booster and flu shots, I noticed a mini bottle of the modern eau de parfum for roughly $14.99 and decided to buy it on a whim. From there, curiosity led me to eBay where I purchased a vintage Men’s Obsession and a vintage Women’s eau de parfum. My thinking was that no-one really wore Obsession these days so it might be nice to indulge in the spiced amber and patchouli of my memory.

Obsession surprised me in all three versions — not always for the best. The vintage Men’s eau de toilette proved to be a synthetic nightmare that I had to scrub. The two Women’s versions were different than I had remembered and, in the case of the vintage Women’s eau de parfum, more complex when a greater scent application was applied, simpler and less interesting when a smaller spray amount was used. One thing which surprised me with the Women’s version is how much of a Shalimar-esque accord there was during one stage with its citrus vanilla accord. I never remembered that from before, nor the quiet green and herbal elements in the opening.

I thought I’d share with you my comparative scent findings, particularly as you can buy vintage Obsession quite cheaply on eBay. I’m terrible at dating bottles, however, so the reviews provide links within to Basenotes and Fragrantica threads which can help you identify bottles from different eras. (Calvin Klein is one of those houses that makes life difficult by re-using batch codes every ten years, so one can’t rely on that in trying to date a fragrance which came out in the roughly 37 years ago.)

With regard to each of the Twitter review threads listed below, if you click on the image it will take you directly to Twitter where you can read the scent details in consecutive tweets. In other words, the posts below are imbedded links to the full story on Twitter.



My vintage bottle was, I’d guessed, maybe from the 1990s but a Twitter friend later helped me identify it as probably circa 2004. I purchased it for about $40, full, on eBay.


My review for the vintage Men’s eau de toilette consisted of two short tweets:

I wasn’t the only one overwhelmed by the almost purely synthetic, grating, abrasive nature of Obsession for Men, vintage version. An Italian Twitter friend who is a highly sophisticated perfumista in terms of both vintage fragrances and modern niche scents bought a bottle after reading the fond, nostalgic accounts of others, including many women, who wore it back in the day. He later told me that he was absolutely horrified by the deluge of synthetics which greeted him. (And he doesn’t have any of my physical issues with aromachemicals!)

If you’re interested in re-exploring Obsession as it is today without spending much on eBay, Surrender to Chance has samples of both the men and women’s current versions. Unfortunately, I don'[t see any vintage versions on the site. On eBay, you can find a host of versions, including the original kidney-shaped cologne splash bottle. If you do decide to get a vintage women’s bottle, you might want to keep in mind my experience where a greater scent application or a 3-4 spray amount yielded a far less simple and synthetic outcome.

2 thoughts on “Calvin Klein Obsession: Vintage, Modern & Men’s

  1. Thank you for the reviews. My ex husband wore way too much Obsession, so I can’t stand the stuff. I’ve got a small bottle of parfum from the late 90s/early 2000s that I wear maybe once a year; it’s quite strong and not overly synthetic to me, nice but not a favorite. Vintage Opium I find much more enjoyable. I guess vintage Obsession’s era overlapped somewhat with Opium’s, before the reformulations. The 90s were interesting times. Incidentally, I just wore Opium yesterday, now the weather has finally cooled off for a while.

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