NEW YORK — The staggering success of Calvin Klein’s CK One in America has cast unisex fragrances in a new light: what was once considered niche is now viewed as a market all in itself, particularly by mass market knockoff artists.
To date, nearly eight CK One clones have been cited. The mimics include U From Parfums de Coeur Ltd., of Darien, Conn.; DQI One from Designer Quality Impressionists, New York; QK Too, from Deborah International of Ronkonkoma, New York; A Man & A Woman by Jean Philippe Fragrances, New York, and Chromosome XX XY from Parfums Vision International of Edgewood, N.Y.
And many other American companies with broad distribution are also jumping on the gender-bending wagon.
The Gap’s new collection of bath and body products, called Gap Scents, was created for both masculine and feminine consumption, including its four spray colognes.
Richard Barrie Fragrances will capitalize on the trend while cashing in on the popularity of Aaron Spelling’s nighttime soap opera — Melrose Place.
The new scent, which will bow later this year, will target young viewers of both sexes.
While CK One has brought the trend to the fore, the concept of shared fragrances quite probably has its roots in the European mass market.
After all, citrusy eaux fraiches and eaux de colognes purchased at the local pharmacy have been splashed on by both men and women in Europe for generations, particularly in warm Mediterranean countries. One of the most well known is the German brand 4711, which was acquired by Richard Barrie last year.
The fragrance, which has always been broadly distributed, is classified as an eau de cologne refresher. It consists of sandalwood oil, attar of roses, vetiver oil, bergamot, lemon and orange oils.
Many experts feel that the broad acceptance of shared fragrances has spurred on the prestige market to launch tonier versions, including Annick Goutal’s Eau d’Hadrien and Eau Parfumee from Bulgari.
The difference between European eaux de cologne and the recent additions is that traditional eaux de cologne aren’t marketed deliberately as being unisex.
CK One, on the other hand, plays up this image with co-ed “lifestyle” advertising and modern streamlined packaging. Another difference is that the original formulas, which were designed mostly to refresh, weren’t created to be as long-lasting as CK One.
CK One, which is classified as a light and transparent scent, has somewhat of a more complex structure than an eau fraiche.
Its top notes include bergamot, cardamon, fresh pineapple and papaya. The middle notes are hedione high cis, a highly refined aromatic material that approximates a key element in jasmine. The dry down finishes with two musks, amber and a green tea accord, which helps to create a lingering impression.