Calvin Klein ck free ~ fragrance review

Calvin Klein ck free cologne

Women have push-up bras and now men have push-out pants. In September 2009’s Details, I was amused to read: “What gets between you and your Calvins this fall? Extra Calvin. Calvin Klein introduces Jeans Body, a new line of denim designed to enhance your silhouette. Special features include an inverted rear seam to frame your waist and butt as well as an extra layer of fabric on the fly to, um, fill out your package.” 1 It’ll certainly take a man with real balls to walk up to the cash register with these jeans in hand. Wearing Jeans Body jeans implies: “I need some help with my arse and my, um, package.” Calvin Klein, as a company, puzzles me.

Calvin Klein ck free was created by two perfumers and I won’t mention their names because Calvin Klein/Coty hiring noses to create ck free is like me hiring professional baker Elizabeth Falkner — then handing her a box of Duncan Hines cake mix as she walks into my kitchen to cook. ck free is so basic and formulaic no talent was needed to create it — it’s perfume-by-numbers.

ck free (supposedly) contains notes of star anise, jackfruit, juniper berry, absinthe, tobacco, suede, coffee, buchu, oakwood, patchouli, cedarwood and ironwood. I just might smell the overripe “jackfruit” note, but the other notes make me laugh — due to their absence. I smell the usual fruity-fresh opening, the woody middle, and light musky base of a run-of-the-mill, purely synthetic sports fragrance — and that’s it. I’ve smelled “this” fragrance over a hundred times.

A Macy’s sales rep told me ck free is “flying off the shelves.” I have no idea if that’s true, but if lots of guys are buying ck free, major perfume regression is taking place. With this year’s releases (Tom Ford Grey Vetiver, Diesel Only the Brave, True Religion for Men and Lauder Men Brasil Dream to name a few), I was sure men’s mainstream fragrances, and tastes, were improving, and “fresh” sport fragrances were passé. Maybe not.

ck free’s artificial-smelling juice is not something to seek out, but those push-out pants? Looking for Calvin Klein rear-view labels on the streets this fall and guessing what’s real, and what’s not, inside those jeans could be fun.

Calvin Klein ck free is available in 50 ($47) and 100 ($62) ml Eau de Toilette.

1. "Padding the Truth", pg. 150.

Shop for perfume

Parfums Raffy


Leave a comment, or read more about commenting at Now Smell This. Here's a handy emoticon chart.

  1. Daisy says:

    I almost hurt myself laughing….push out pants??? I guess there’s been bust enhancing bras for years so false advertising was bound to spread to package enhancing pants ….at least guys can rejoice that their girlfriends will certainly stop stealing their jeans….

    • Fernando says:

      Sure these are not intended for guys with girlfriends?

      • Fernando says:

        Ack. I meant to write:

        Surely these are not intended for guys with girlfriends!

        • Daisy says:

          HA! yeah, I was going to say that perhaps the guy who is in such desperate need to show he has a package probably isn’t overburdened with womenfolk.

          • Daisy, I believe Fernando was pointing out that girls aren’t who is meant to be attracted…

          • Daisy says:

            ahh, ok….. I get it now…..I’m going to go somewhere and giggle now.

        • miss kitty v. says:

          But I think the type of “guys without girlfriends” who will actually buy these fall into the former category and not the latter.

          • boojum says:

            The Have-Nots vs the Want-Nots, eh?

          • Daisy says:

            isn’t that what they make tube socks for? warm in the winter too…

        • Kevin says:

          Fernando: I don’t think sexual orientation comes into it…just vanity, and a touch of bad taste.

          • Fernando says:

            I have no idea whether orientation would play a role, but it is rather pathetic in any case.

          • Kevin says:

            Fernando II: for some reason I’m seeing the target audience as the same teen boys who douse themselves with Axe body sprays…16-18 and hormonal.

          • OMG, no Kevin. Those boys are waaaaaay to paranoid about being macho to do something as feminine as hoisting their behinds up. And anyway, at that age, hardly any of them have anything to hoist!

          • Daisy says:

            Recent “views” at the high school and now at the college leads me to think that if the average 16-18 year old male was wearing butt enhancing jeans it would have no affect whatsoever as the butt portion of their jeans falls somewhere in the mid-thigh to kneecap region…..on the other hand, I’ve seen a rather astounding variety of boxer shorts….

    • Daisy says:

      ooops, got distracted and neglected the make the perfume comment….I’m sorry to say that CK hasn’t come up with anything terribly sniff worthy in a while. I like Eterinity (women) but the myriad of flankers without exception are dreck. His fragrances for men have been quite forgettable for years! I don’t even bother anymore…so maybe I’ve missed something amazing and invite anyone to bring that to my attention, otherwise I will continue to ignore CK.

      • miss kitty v. says:

        They are consistently not good, we can say that much.

        Speaking of CK, I was amazed that Allure magazine listed Euphoria in their “best of” article as a good “light” fragrance. (Or maybe they said “soft,” but whatever it was, it was insanely inaccurate.)

        I’m awfully tangential today. I think i will start restricting my posting based on relevancy. (So in other words, I probably won’t be saying anything.)

      • Kevin says:

        Daisy: agree…don’t think you’ve missed a THING in years…at CK.

    • AlbertCAN says:

      It’s a subtle trend that has been hoving for years now. Getting into the metrosexual territory (can’t believe I’m still using this term) means guys will look for physique-enhancing products. And it’s not only the, ahem, less endowed men who buy padded products: two years ago Ewan McGregor supposedly caused a bit of stir when was said to spend quite a bit of money on Wonderjocks by AussieBum:

      And while there is no way I can fact check but McGregor is quite proud of, ahem, his thing. There was even a cheeky reference in “Moulin Rouge”. So the Calvin Klein is a bit late in the game.

      (As you might have deduced I have no comment on cK Free.)

      • AnnieA says:

        Re: Fact Checking — just have a look at Ewan’s, hmm, role in “The Pillow Book” to see there is no need for him to buy Wonder Jeans of any sort…

        • vickyjane says:

          Ahhh, Ewan… …

        • AlbertCAN says:

          Hmm…I have seen “The Pillow Book” but if I go down on the fact checking / measuring path viewer discretion advisory would have to be inserted!

      • Kevin says:

        AlbertCan: I should have waited till I could buy a pair of these jeans and reviewed THEM! Certainly it would have generated more comments!

        • miss kitty v. says:

          Well, now you have to.

          • Daisy says:

            oh, Kitty, you’re just angling for pictures! ;-)

          • Kevin says:

            Miss K: if they’re released with a Jeans Body fragrance I’ll HAVE to do a duo-review!

          • miss kitty v. says:

            Niiiiice. :)

        • AlbertCAN says:

          Ha! If you want you can have someone else model the jeans for you. By the way, I wonder if male models will accept the CK contract with their usual glee if, say, they have to be in ads with those jeans…come to think of it, judging by the “Beckham for Armani” underwear ads photoshop will do just fine during a photoshoot.

    • Kevin says:

      Daisy: HOW TRUE…HAHA!

  2. Joe says:

    Hmm, Kevin, perfume AND jeans-shopping advice all rolled into one. I need some new jeans too, but guess which ones I won’t be considering, thank you very much? I hate clothes/pants shopping most of the time.

    I have a theory: maybe young guys have gotten so used to the fresh, sporty fragrances that they don’t mind buying the same scent with different names because it gives them the impression that they’re getting something NEW and being “diverse consumers.” I work amongst university students and if I’ve smelled that generic musky aroma once I’ve smelled it a thousand times…

    • Kevin says:

      Joe: it’s probably the NEW factor coupled with not really caring much about the scent

  3. Kevin, dear, those jeans are what online shopping is made for… As long as there isn’t anything on the outside to indicate the brand I predict they’ll be big sellers.

    • Joe says:

      And she means BIIIIGGG sellers. Ba-dum-bum.

      • Daisy says:

        well, biggER …..

        • Kevin says:

          Daisy: stuff in a sock and you’re good to go…right?

          • Daisy says:

            welll, if you’ve seen me drive on the expressway, you’d already know I have substantial balls…… oh just kidding, I couldn’t resist… about the driving that is, my balls are huge!
            hmmm kicking me off the blog yet??? ;-)

          • Kevin says:

            Daisy: you are allowed to stay…I was asking for off-color comments today…knew it from the opening paragraph!

  4. miss kitty v. says:

    I love that the Macy’s person said it was “flying off the shelves.” I got attacked (yes, I think that’s the right word for it) by an overzealous SA on Saturday who proceeded to marinate me in Lola. (Which, it turns out, I really hate.) She said that it was “the #1 best-seller currently.” I have a hard time believing it, and if it really is, it is presumably only because people will buy it if it means getting rid of hovering sales associates and getting the hell out of there. (By the way, there was so much more to this situation, but I don’t want to bore everyone with the details. I will say it was the one time I felt like I had gotten involved in a pyramid scheme for just saying, “sure, I’ll take a sample…”)

    • boojum says:

      Hate those overzealous SAs, and yes, attacked IS the right word. Unless you prefer assaulted, of course. :D

      • miss kitty v. says:

        I think the assault occurred when she slathered Lola lotion all over my hands, after my terrified protestations about having a skin condition and breaking out in a rash. (Which I did, within a matter of seconds.)

        • Can’t you sue them, especially in the States?! I mean getting marinated in any perfume is no fun at all. And breakouts from cosmetic… help.

          • boojum says:

            You could, but I wouldn’t. More likely, I’d complain to the manager and see if I couldn’t score some freebies or coupons or something for my suffering. ;)

    • mals86 says:

      Marinate you in Lola! I’m cringing at the thought!

      FWIW, I haven’t actually smelled the stuff, only seen the bottle in person & at a distance. I don’t live anywhere near a mall where perfume is sold, excepting the Belk 18 miles from my house (they have a few Chanels, some Lancomes, and alllllll the Lauders, which does me absolutely no good). But right now I’m rejoicing that I don’t have to run the gauntlet of spritz-happy SA’s… even if it means I have to obtain samples of stuff through the mail.

      And anyway, I’m still too stupefied by that Tabac Aurea to care about anything else at the moment.

      • miss kitty v. says:

        So Tabac Aurea is good? That’s on my to-try list.

        Hey, I can send you my sample of Lola! Ha ha ha!! :)

    • Kevin says:

      Miss K: I also endured a REALLY HARD SELL when trying to get a ck free sample at Macy’s…a horror.

  5. claresparkle says:

    The idea of jeans to enhance one’s “package” is hysterical. It automatically makes me think the guy’s package is umm…dare I say it…lacking?

  6. mals86 says:

    Kevin, I may have to bill you for a keyboard replacement. My lemon-ginger tea may have ruined the current keyboard… it’s all your fault for making me laugh. (I should never, ever drink anything while at the computer, but especially not while reading a Kevin review!)

    • Kevin says:

      Mals: I try to amuse, especially when the scent I’m reviewing is a snoozer!

  7. bergere says:

    Yup, Kevin, little drops of coffee are trailing down my screen now. . . I wonder if customers can choose how much to, um, maximize their assets, one size, two sizes, more?

    • vickyjane says:

      Perhaps they’ll do inflatable ones so you can customise them to fit your “mood”…

      • boojum says:

        LOL looks like we had the same idea at the same time. :D

        • vickyjane says:

          Great minds… :) (even if they are in the gutter!!)

      • laken says:

        inflatable ones. That instantly makes me think of the movie “Dodgeball” where Ben Stillers character has, well, an inflatable – cod-piece – of some sort. Actually I guess if women have bust enhancing bras its only fair that men have crotch enhancing jeans ? You know, equal opportunities and everything. !

    • boojum says:

      Maybe they come with an air pump….

    • TwoPeasInAPod says:

      Like those VS bras that had the button on the front clasp that you could “click” to “customize your cleavage”, LOL?!?!?

  8. Rictor07 says:

    I love how all these comments are about the pants and not the cologne. Ive smelled Ck Free, and my review is much more concise than kevins. It sucks.

  9. monstabunny says:

    I always check a man’s package. It’s between his ears, right? I mean, his brain’s in his pants, right?

    • Daisy says:

      monsta, I’ll meet you in the time-out-for-naughty-bloggers-corner. ;-)

  10. alotofscents says:

    “Free to be fake” and I guess they threw in some fake notes to match. Of course it has always been completely acceptable for a women to fudge a little- except not many women I know look at a man’s crotch, unless of course we’re wondering if he’s turned on by us. Maybe we should up the ante by wearing jeans called oh…Right and Tight or something. My stepdaughter would wear them.
    See Daisy your not the only naughty girl. But if God didn’twant us to laugh at dirty jokes, he wouldn’t have made sex so funny sometimes ;)

    • Daisy says:

      my naughtiness is an art form!
      But you know I’ve always wondered what guys think when they “unwrap” a gal in a push-up or wonderbra….it does seem like false advertising, doesn’t it? I mean if unzipping revealed the something extra CK panel….or heaven forbid a tube sock tumbled out, I’d probably fall down laughing….pointing is optional.

      • alotofscents says:

        …a tube sock tumbled out…hahahahaha! I’d leave. But
        I guess if a man took off my push-up bra he’d feel *let down*.

      • laken says:


  11. desmondorama says:

    I’m sure this fragrance will sell very well – not for the juice nor the composition; but simply for the mainstream ‘ck’ target market – younger heterosexual males with no sense of style and lots of testosterone. Their girlfriends may just buy it for them or the feel ‘safe’ enough to wear it because it’s by ‘Calvin Klein’ or ‘ck’ to mainstreamers and features a casually attired , unshaven and adventurous young male spokesmodel on a motorbike in the print advertising and TVC. Even I’ve seen the TVC in Perth, Western Australia and the fragrance is sold in every department store!

    This type of fragrance, although looked down upon by parfumistas and niche fans, actually sells very well, because it’s so mainstream.

    I want a pair of the new ck Jeans Body, though!

  12. MFfan310 says:

    Quit dissing Duncan Hines cake mix! Steve Ballmer started out as Duncan Hines Assistant Brand Manager, and he’s now CEO of Microsoft! ;)

    That being said, I find ck free a ripoff of Chrome (Azzaro, not Google). And not a very good one.

    • Daisy says:

      true, and if you’re going to use a cake mix; Duncan Hines is way better than Pillsbury or Betty Crocker. Personally I go for a nice homemade carrot cake with cream cheese frosting….great, now I want cake!

      • alotofscents says:

        It’s sin city today ain’t it?

      • laken says:

        Oh homemade carrot cake with cream cheese frosting! My favourite!!

        • laken says:

          Or even BOUGHT carrot cake with cream cheese frosting!!

          • Daisy says:

            well, you’re just being ‘easy’ now ;-)

    • Kevin says:

      CFFAN310: It’s a rip off of SO many things….

  13. RossM says:

    The first thing I thought when I first sniffed it was, “why bother?” Seriously, it had absolutely NOTHING to say that hadn’t already been said a million times before. Even if it cost $10 I wouldn’t have spent the money on it. Very very disappointing. But now, those jeans on the otherhand…

    • Kevin says:

      RossM: with the ingredients that were (ab)used, they will make a FORTUNE per bottle sold!

  14. guerlaingirl says:

    Haven’t/won’t smell ck free, but wanted to share this “impressive” portrait of King Henry the Eighth: Thanks for a great morning everyone!!

    • Daisy says:

      The codpiece, essential menswear of the time…..often they adorned them with jeweled pins and such….nothing says “hey, check out my package” like a bejeweled codpiece! (ack!)
      Henry was apparently most proud of his fabulous legs…and Philip of France indicated to Elizabeth I that she should marry him because he had such attractive legs, just like her father! (double ack!)

    • Joe says:

      I prefer the Bronzino, actually:

      Ah… freshman year at art school. I learned what a codpiece was in art history AND had to deal with nude figure drawing in the first week of class.

      • laken says:

        Gosh, they weren’t very suble back then, were they?

  15. Graham says:

    Well it couldn’t POSSIBLY be as bad as that ck One Summer (blue) I picked up at TJ Maxx not too long ago. Couldn’t figure out WHY it gave me the skeevies so bad, but then I realized that there is some sort of corresponding note in One and Secretions Magnifiques… Urga. Any ideas what that is? Anyhoo – had to toss it out.

    • Royal says:

      I’m not sure what’d skeeve you out about cK one summer 2008 – it’s easily my favorite release from the house in quite some time.

  16. adamj2004 says:

    Kevin, I completely agree with your review of ckFree. I work as a fragrance model for Coty and when I smelled this fragrance I was ashamed I have to promote it. It is a completely generic sport fragrance without a shred of originality. It has been done many times before. I hope Coty can put out something original in the future and actually have it perform well (Secret Obsession was quite original but sold absolutely nothing).

    • Kevin says:

      AdamJ: Aye…a tough gig when you don’t like a fragrance! Never got to try Secret Obsession.

      • adamj2004 says:

        Kevin: It is a really nice job because you get to promote fragrance all day but recent launches from Coty have really disappointed me. This one especially because it is so vapid. Fragrance made by committee comes to mind. However, in their will to please, they created such a generic fragrance that it is mind numbingly boring. Additionally, the sillage is awful. Secret Obsession was woody and strange. It launched alongside Lauder’s Sensuous, when they were trying to push the revival of woodsier fragrances to women. I know how the SO episode turned out, as Macy’s no longer carries it, but I wonder how Sensuous has done? I suspect not very well…

  17. tmp00 says:

    This is hilarious- kind os makes me want to try it.

    The scent that is, not the jeans.

  18. eminere says:

    This is so generic it’s beyond boring. Yawn.

  19. olenska says:

    Being that CKFree is practically fragrance-free, the ingredients list is a laugh and a half. One gets the feeling that the PR drone assigned to write the product description tried desperately to cobble together a list of what a macho man’s deepest desires might be. Apparently, he wants a fragrance that will provide him with manly nicotine, a hot strong cup o’ joe, and something made out of suede to cover his, um, ironwood.

Leave a reply