Thursday, 18 December 2008

Obsession v Secret Obsession - and the winner is...

...Obsession, the 80s classic. By a landslide.

Let's compare:

Top notes: Mandarin, bergamot, greens
Heart notes: Orange blossom, Jasmine, Sandalwood, coriander, rose and spices
Base notes: Vetiver, Amber, Frankincense, Oakmoss, vanilla, civet

(Interesting note: a friend once gave me vanilla musk from Body Shop, saying it reminded her of me)

Secret Obsession

Top: exotic plum, mace, rose Damascena
Heart: French orange blossom, Egyptian jasmine, tuberose, plum, woods

Base: cashmere woods*, burnt amber, Australian sandalwood

When I first went looking for a signature scent in September 2004, I didn't want to like Obsession. Really, I didn't. I wanted something warm and woody, for sure. But 1985's Obsession by CK??? WAY too tacky.

Hunt I did, at Boots and Debenhams. The women's scents were all too floral, too light. And anything with grapefruit will smell like cat piss on me after about an hour. Most citruses were right out.

But I kept spraying Obsession in the air and sniffing it. No, I insisted, I wanted mostly sandalwood, patchouli, ylang-ylang. But...I was falling in love. With THAT perfume.

Determined not to fold, I went to the men's section. Nothing. Stuff that might make grab the lapels of my male friends and go, "Don't worry, I'm not going to jump you, I just want to inhale (read: Obsession for Men - do we sense a theme?) for a few minutes." But none of it smelled quite right.

Finally, I took the plunge. I sprayed some Obsession on my wrist and continued shopping.

Game over. Rich, warm, spicy with the smell of vanilla lingering at the end...I was hooked. There are many kinds of sensual and sexy, and this scent dovetailed with my definition perfectly: more sultry, mysterious and dark than light and playful. More reminiscent of kohl-lined eyes, colourful, sensual fabrics and heat than the lighter Marilyn Monroe/Audrey Hepburn version of sexiness in fashion now.

Last time I ran out, a few months ago, I remembered I had some Body Shop sandalwood perfume oil, so I decided to take a break and use it for a while. Secret Obsession came out whilst I was on a break, so when the time came to decide last weekend, I re-sprayed Obsession on one wrist, but without thinking, rubbed it against the other, as is my wont.

Damn. Secret Obsession on back of right hand. Boy, was I sorry.
Despite the promise of the ingredients, the top notes smelled like Aquanet. Unfortunately, I didn't need my hair to hold position in a hurricane-force wind.

"Ok," I thought. "It's a top note, give it a chance."
I thought I might be prejudiced because several reviewers have had issues with its top and heart notes. Despite claiming sandalwood, jasmine, woods and amber as heart and base notes, Secret Obsession - which by its name should have been richer and deeper than the original - petered out into a light, floral scent that belonged on someone like Miley Cyrus, lacking the depth and edge of the original.

Which smelled as beautiful as ever on my wrists.

Secret Obsession an adolescent/very young adult fragrance, whereas Obsession's more complex fragrance belongs on a grown woman.

So I washed my hands.


Ariel said...

When I was still in Oxford, I remember you saying you'd bought a new perfume, and now you wanted to make out with yourself... was that Obsession?


Irim said...

HAHAHAHAHA! I'd forgotten that. Yes, it was indeed Obsession. And it was a perfect expression of how much I love it. xx