Rebottling an icon | ck one Eau de Toilette review

The product: ck one (on-the-go packaging)

ck one has always smelled like a cologne to me, with its hard, fresh, too-synthetic edges. I mean, I do have quite a bit of respect for it (how could you not respect something so iconic, something that has changed the perfume world this much?), but it’s never really been up my alley, so to speak.

At first spritz, ck one is sharp and almost aggressively clean, with notes of bergamot, cardamom, pineapple, papaya, and green tea. I can’t imagine anyone not recognizing the scent–remember when it was everywhere, on everyone, for like, a decade?– though perhaps a generation of fragrance lovers who’ve never so much as heard of ck one is upcoming. I don’t get a lot of fruit out of it (the bergamot and green tea pop out the most, on my skin), but they’re tucked away in there.

Launched in ’94 and crafted by Alberto Moriallas and Harry Fremont, ck one was the first “big” unisex scent. The full-sized version (I’ve photographed the rather unique travel-size bottle), designed by Fabien Baron, features a screw-top lid and and an almost flask-like frosted bottle, which was – intriguing, to say the least.

The sharp top notes fade quickly, revealing a softer layer of florals (rose, violet, jasmine, and a nice, comfortable nutmeg) and a woodier base (musk, amber).

At the end of the day, I think what I respect ck one most for is that it made unisex cool. It was sort of the groundbreaker, the fragrance that said “I can smell like this because I want to smell like this,” you know? And that’s definitely something I can get behind.

ck one is, admittedly, not for me – and probably not for a lot of us. The nineties were a long time ago (can you believe that this scent is already seventeen, eighteen years old?) and fragrance trends have changed, but I still think it’s worth giving a sniff. To me, it’s one of those scents that every ‘fumehead needs to try, even if just for reference. It was huge, iconic, and I do think it’s still relevant to some degree. ck one is a classic; it’s the Shalimar of the Gen Xs and Ys, the Angel of the nineties tomboy.

Give it a try. Who knows? Maybe you’ll like it. Maybe you’ll love it.

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  • mostlysunnybunny

    I might have liked this when I was living in Taiwan (hot and humid. You want to go really easy on scent), but now that I'm living in Europe I need something a bit "louder," just because you won't be able to smell it at all otherwise! Kudos for having stayed on the market for SO long though, CK One!
    My recent post Swatch & Review: Cargo Blush in Rome

    • I find this one surprisingly loud, for a fresh scent! But I know what you mean about loud/quite scents and the weather – I love scents that wrap you up in the winter, but as soon as summer hits, it's just like, "okay guys, let's tone it down a bit." :P

  • ines

    longtime lurker here – good to see some fellow canucks in the blogosphere!

    i found ck one intriguingly synthetic-fresh… owned a small bottle for a while, but just couldn't get it to work for me (everyone figured i was wearing my BF's stuff). worth a sniff and kind of unique for a mainstream scent if it works for your skin chemistry!

    • Hi, Ines! Glad that you're de-lurking ;)

      There's something just so about ck one, right? It's got that hard synthetic edge, but you can tell that it was very much intentional – it's a really nice juxtaposition against the soapy bergamot. I couldn't really get it to work for me, either, though; I wish I could've!

  • BeautyReflects

    I remember this!! I thought it was so cool when it came out. And Eternity before it I also loved. They were my first grownup perfumes!
    My recent post I'd Go Back To France Just To Get This: Bioderma Crealine Lait

  • I remember my first contact with ck One was in an upscale restaurant in Zurich, where they just a had bottle lying in the restroom for their guests' convenience – I thought that was super cool :) And I quite like the original flacon too!
    My recent post The Battle of Chemical Exfoliants: AHAs vs BHAs

  • BeautyReflects

    Hahaha you were FANCY. Me, not so much!! :) I remember girls I worked with on my first job wearing these, so that's why I bought them. Ahh, what I used to be able to spend my paycheques on!!
    My recent post I'd Go Back To France Just To Get This: Bioderma Crealine Lait

  • jen

    Wow! such beautiful packaging! I’ve always luuurved CKone. this is another reason why I should love it more.


    • Yes! It's really cute, not to mention travel-friendly ;) The plastic's makes it a lot lighter, too – and the flatness means it'll fit in a clutch!

  • BooBooNinja

    Wow, ck one brings back so many memories!
    I have never been a fragrance girl so I didn't wear it myself.
    However, I remember people at school wearing it. They were trying to be so grown up!

    • Lol! It makes me kind of sad that girls getting into perfume often reach toward celeb smell-alike creations, nowadays. Kind of takes away the fun, y'know? Scent used to be all about luxury, or (in the case of ck one, for instance) statements – where you'd own one, maybe two bottles.

      And now it's all "fruity florientals" and Britney Spears at under $40 a pop. Which – there's nothing wrong with cheap 'fumes, but I feel like it's more about smelling like your friends than growing up with it! :(

      Sorry, sorry. I'm going to stop this trainwreck of a comment now >.<

  • I love this one. Hubby and I both use it. Digging the new on the go look! LOL

    • Aww! It's not often that you find couples who share their fragrances – even if the scents are unisex! That's awesome, hon ;)

  • I think because my aunt wears this, I'm a bit averse to it. I tend to go really feminine with my fragrances.

    • Ha! Yeah, I know what you mean. It's like, I can't wear that, I don't want to be [person x]! :P And this one – well, it's not floral-less, but definitely doesn't fit the definition of a floral-lover's perfume ;)

  • Nina

    I like this scent. At first I also thought that it was too harsh but it faded quite good on me. Plus, I like that it's unisex and has such nice bottles. I always loved the full-sized version and this tiny one is really useful, it's always in my purse ^^

    • I wish it sat as well on my skin as it must on yours! I find that I like it most for the first hour or so; the drydown goes a bit sour on me – it's really strange. Not "gross" by any means, but there's just something about it that isn't to my preference!