Downtown, the latest from Calvin Klein, is meant to “capture the essence of the confident woman.” It’s fronted by actress Rooney Mara, and it’s geared young, although not as young as most: the target is reportedly women 25 to 35. Catherine Walsh of Coty explained the scent’s marketing strategy thusly:
This group of consumers lives by its own rules. We’ve put together a superaspirational scent. Globally, consumers see downtown as a place they want to be. They identify it with youthfulness, edginess and cool.1
If you read yesterday’s review, that probably sounds familiar. Young women who “see downtown as a place they want to be” is exactly the group that Elizabeth Arden Untold is chasing, albeit in a different way, or at least, Elizabeth Arden’s idealized image of “downtown New York cool” sure doesn’t look much like Calvin Klein’s. Regardless, it’s been an awful long time since Calvin Klein last managed to bottle youthfulness, edginess and cool — arguably, they haven’t pulled that off since CK One in 1994.2Downtown handily manages the youthfulness. Edgy and cool, maybe not so much.
Calvin Klein is calling Downtown a woody floral, and maybe it is, although the top notes are nearly candied enough to qualify for a more edible classification. The opening is a pile of sweet fruit, weakened slightly with an aquatic note (the notes: cedrat, bergamot, neroli, pear, watery plum, pink pepper, violet leaf, gardenia, cedarwood, incense, vetiver and velvet musks). Early on, a mild but persistent undertone of cotton candy keeps Downtown from stepping wholesale into pear shampoo territory, but it also keeps Downtown from smelling like anything you might imagine Rooney Mara, or indeed, anybody downtown, wearing with a black leather jacket.