At first try I was turned off by this. Synthetic and edgy. It was too modern futuristic for me.
Then I let some time go by and I tried it again.
This is genius.
It is essentially a summation of the 2010s (minus any oud offering sadly) and the composition is such that it takes you on a journey of both masculine and feminine offerings.
Even if I am not a fan of the woody amber excessively present in today's fragrances, I can at the least enjoy the candy sweet berry notes that are a requirement in most femme frags.
The culmination is Ck One, except fuller, stronger, a tinge dirtier and unashamed. Still present is the soft rounded edges of a nouveau adolescent but this time with a confident smile and a notable absence of timidity.
Perfume art is back, in a form that is so 2020.
cK All (2017) wasn't touted as some sort of a big deal in the same sense as cK2 (2016), and even acts like the previous cK2 never existed, being called "The Third Pillar in the cK series" by Calvin Klein themselves, who've either sectioned off cK2 into it's own little world to die like Calvin Klein Crave (2002), or have retroactively made it a flanker due to it's failure, which is their own fault for deliberately stating cK2 as a "genderless fragrance for millenials", which regardless of intent, sounds like some of the worst soulless pandering in perfume history. Calvin Klein cK All doesn't seek to repeat that mistake by reinventing the cK wheel with psuedo-political correctness so to speak, and instead returns the best-selling unisex fragrance series to it's roots by being mostly recognizable elements and really cutting back on the "Kleinisms" aesthetic impression notes, actually telling people what the Hell is in the fragrance instead. cK All is literally cK one (1994) for the new era, and it's not so much better or worse, just more with this decade's tastes than with the 90's as it's time-honored predecessor. CK tapped big talent in the form of Albert Morillas and Harry Freemont, both CK veterans responsible for penning the original cK One, plus many career accolades since. Bringing back the original "dream team" of the first cK One was a smart idea for publicity, but unfortunately, lighting rarely strikes twice, and although I give this a thumbs up for sure, it's nowhere near the level of ingenuity the original displayed, nor smells as iconic. Bottom line here, is this is a fairly pallid, citrus-lead, dusty floral affair that could have been a feminine perfume if it had been released in the 90's, but since it's released in the 2010's with much more-relaxed gender tolerances, it gets to be labelled unisex. Now bear in mind, I wear feminines if I like them, so I don't really care what a fragrance is "supposed to be", but I have to admit this feels more feminine in the dry down than any previous cK One flanker or pillar.
cK All starts with a fairly stark manadarin accord, that actually is almost undetectable as such at first, making one want to overspray applications in the beginning. There are some other synthetic citrus whatevers going on in here, but at least Ck isn't giving them pretty names like "citrus on a wisp cloud of fresh" or other nonsense "Kleinisms" like they have done before. Instead, the next two identifiable notes in the pyramid are citrus blossom (a semi-Kleinism for it's vagueness), and Paradisone: a custom captive that's an intensified version of the hedione high-cis molecule used in fragrances past (including the original cK One), giving it an unexpected tie-in with greats like Dior's Eau Sauvage(1966). Don't get excited by this news, as Parisidone doesn't smell much like the original hedione and I can't even detect any jasmine accord from it like is expected. The generic citrus blossoms are the dusty florals I mentioned, and the base of amber, rhubarb, lily of the valley, vetiver, and musk just place a dry and piquant end-cap on the whole affair with an ephemeral sense of weight that comes and goes depending on how the air hits. Calvin Klein cK All goes on a lot less sweet and musky than the original cK One, and is less bracing than the barbershop tones of cK Be (1996) but also more citric and tart than it, almost as if this was a progression from cK Be away from it's more masculine-lean than a true sequel to cK One by it's own creators, which is weird, since I'd not suspect Morillas and Freemont to riff off of Ann Gottlieb (who composed cK Be). Once more, I like the stuff, but this really feels more like Calvin Klein were just so determined to avoid the embarrassment of cK2 that they were really trying to retroactively disavow not just it, but an entire series of seasonal flankers that came before, taking the family tree all the way back to the cK Be branch and continuing on from there. It's a shame, because I liked some of the flankers that landed in the time between. I think the overall gist of cK All is a respectable one, by pushing the citrus forward and focusing on crispness and delicate floral notes rather than go tit-for-tat with masculine and feminine values until it "smells like nothing" in the way cK One did, since the "fresh/floral/dry" approach cK All takes is arguably more "genderless" in execution than Calvin Klein thought the abstract cK2 was.
It's almost a de-ozonated 90's ozonic masculine, which would pretty much dump it into the appropriate unisex appeal category without much more modification than that. By the end of the day, fans of the cK series will go nuts for this, and I feel that's who this is truly for, which means Calvin Klein has bought me hook-line-and-sinker with it. We cK fans love our weird unisex science experiments that bring back high school memories when androgyny in fashion was exactly that, and not an attempt at a larger social statement (although kudos to those folks who are trying to make those much-needed statements). Everyone else not so indoctrinated won't see the value in this from that sentimental perspective, and like somebody who doesn't understand why the latest Star Wars films trespasses on so much of the fan's trust, the outsider to the cK universe won't get why this is a worthy new cK pillar and successor to the cK throne. These folks will just see it as a relatively weak, somewhat boring, synthetic floral perfume packaged in "another cK bottle that can't be told apart from the others" and you know what? They're totally right. This isn't some crazy next-generation thinking here like cK2 was purported to be, and it isn't even remotely novel like the first cK One was. It's another safe, fresh, nondescript Calvin Klein unisex "cK" fragrance banking on the iconic imagery of the first, but at this point, anyone not knowing that going into testing cK All should be scolded for any attempted incredulity. This is the closest thing I've seen Calvin Klein do in regards of making something just for the fans of a particular line, and I don't mean flankers, but actually creating a continuation of something liked in the spirit of it's predecessors but with a few new twists. Such a thing is tantamount to Guerlain not making a Vetiver (1961) flanker, or even a Vetiver reinvention, but just a "new version of Vetiver" that respects the original but still does it's own thing. That's why I think I like cK All the most, because if I was just to be blindfolded and told to sniff it sight unseen, I'd think you were trying to get me into the latest Celine Dion or Britney Spears fragrance, and we ain't going there! However, knowing this is the "new back-to-basics Act III" of the cK line, I totally dig it. This is by-the-numbers synthetic unisex cK for only the cultists. Everyone else can move on.
The brisk opening fanfare starts you off with a twang. Not too sharp and not too loud, its a well worked accord of grapefruit and rhubarb that really brings the nose alive.
Its a great introduction, but after no time at all the head starts to break down over the pale and very musky floral heart, and then later a sweet and powdery woody amber follows on.
To be fair the second stage isn't bad but material quality and radiance are both poor. There's a definite chemical aura hanging around for much of the time, and after the initial blast is over it gets pretty quiet pretty quick.
The main criticism is the structure. The profile starts off on a twangy but modulated freshness that's been polished till it shines, but then after than, nothing happens! It goes from bright to bland, with no attempt at development. Most of the interest lies in that first five minutes at the start.
As one wag noted, it isn't so much CK All as CyniK-All.
A blast of orange-manarin citrus freshness start the top notes, and this is not a sweet and ripe citrus that I get, but more crisp and fresh. Quite nice.
The drydown adds floral notes, with a lily impression the most evident on my skin. It is quite pedestrian and lacks any interesting characteristics, which, at least to some extent, the beginning displays.
The base evolves into a fruity melange, with rhubarb and a very industrial white musky undertone in the foreground.
I get moderate sillage, very good projection and six hours of longevity on my skin.
Overall rather generic and synthetic, but the beginning stands out as a pleasant summery start. The top notes push from the neutral into the - just - positive category by the skin of its teeth.