CALVIN KLEIN reignites an ICONIC LOVE STORY for its lat­est house fra­grances.


The house of Calvin Klein reignites the iconic love story be­tween ul­ti­mate muse Kate Moss and pho­tog­ra­pher Mario Sor­renti

If there ever was an im­age,

or se­ries of images, that could cap­ture the feel­ing of the 1990s, it might very well be the Calvin Klein Ob­ses­sion ads fea­tur­ing ul­ti­mate muse Kate Moss. The black and white images of a young Kate, ly­ing on a couch in a house in the mid­dle of nowhere, her face and body mostly bare and her hair salt and sun-soaked from the beach, peer­ing out at us, both vul­ner­a­ble and fully in com­mand, are in­deli­bly marked on our con­scious­ness. Taken by pho­tog­ra­pher and Moss’s then-boyfriend, Mario Sor­renti in 1993, the shock­ingly in­ti­mate photos are as raw and emo­tion­ally evoca­tive as ever.

Twenty-five years later, the images still res­onate to­day, so much so that the re­cently in­stalled chief cre­ative of­fi­cer for Calvin Klein, Raf Si­mons, de­cided to re­visit never-be­fore-seen out­takes from the orig­i­nal cam­paign to launch the new fra­grances, Ob­sessed for Women and Ob­sessed for Men. Rein­ven­tions of the clas­sic, cit­rus and white laven­der con­trast with musk to give sen­su­ous warmth to the women’s scent, while notes of black pep­per, car­damom, patchouli, and vanilla de­liver a cap­ti­vat­ing, spiced aroma for the men’s. “I sup­pose you could say we were ob­sessed by Ob­ses­sion,” says Si­mons. “If one thing summed up Calvin Klein for us vis­ually, it was Mario Sor­renti’s Ob­ses­sion cam­paign with Kate Moss.”

The deeply per­sonal story be­hind the cam­paign—that of Sor­renti and Moss’s love story— is per­haps just as iconic as the images them­selves. As Sor­renti tells it, the cam­paign came to be as a re­sult of de­signer Calvin Klein seen­ing images Sor­renti had taken of his then-girl­friend, 18-year-old Moss, on hol­i­day. See­ing that spark of pas­sion and long­ing con­veyed in the photos, Klein tasked the pho­tog­ra­pher to hole up on a re­mote is­land in the Vir­gin Is­lands with Moss for a week and take pic­tures of her for the then soon-to-launch fra­grance. And so they did, with­out hair and makeup or any other peo­ple around. “There wasn’t re­ally a spe­cific con­cept,” says Sor­renti. “The idea was that I would go and pho­to­graph my girl­friend and just cre­ate some­thing in­ti­mate and per­sonal.”

Re­flect­ing on that time, Moss says that while there was a bit more pres­sure on Sor­renti than usual, as he was a new pho­tog­ra­pher at the time, she de­scribes the ex­pe­ri­ence as be­ing very much like an­other day in the life of a boyfriend and girl­friend. “We were alone for seven or eight days with no hair or makeup and just lots of Su­per 8 film and cam­eras, and we just went on our own and hung out and took pic­tures.”

The cam­paign was provoca­tive even then and sparked some con­tro­versy when it came out, says Sor­renti, with cer­tain con­ser­va­tive groups crit­i­ciz­ing the brand for its ad­ver­tis­ing im­agery. “I think it kind of shocked a lot of peo­ple,” he says, in ret­ro­spect, but he notes that the public re­sponse was largely pos­i­tive. “I re­mem­ber trav­el­ling through Amer­ica at that time with my best friend and go­ing to dif­fer­ent col­leges in Amer­ica and see­ing the pho­to­graphs lifted out of mag­a­zines and taped up on the walls of dorms. That was kind of amaz­ing, that I some­how reached my peers in a way that I thought was im­por­tant.”

Moss, who had al­ready ap­peared in a mem­o­rable Calvin Klein jeans cam­paign with rap­per Marky Mark in 1992, was a model on the rise, but the Ob­ses­sion cam­paign made her a break­out star. “I was like, ‘I’m on a bus in New York!’ I didn’t re­ally know what peo­ple were say­ing about it be­cause there was no so­cial me­dia, it’s not in your face like it is now. I was still work­ing and get­ting on with it,” she says. “I sup­pose I started get­ting fa­mous. Peo­ple started rec­og­niz­ing me and know­ing my name—that was what changed.” Now aged 43, Moss’s decades-long ca­reer is seem­ingly hot­ter than ever.

Asked what made the images so iconic, Sor­renti says, “For some rea­son, those photos touched a nerve with a lot of peo­ple. Maybe it’s the hon­esty in the way that Kate and I felt about each other that’s cap­tured in the pho­to­graphs. They’re kind of an enigma for me as well.”

“I think we were ob­sessed with each other,” adds Moss. “We were re­ally young and in love and I think [Calvin Klein] just saw that. [Mario] had a cam­era and he was ob­sessed with tak­ing pic­tures and I was a model and he took a lot of pic­tures of me. We were in love and he cap­tured that.”

Kate & Mario circa 1993

Calvin Klein Ob­sessed for Women EDP $106 (100 ml); Ob­sessed for Men EDT $95 (125 ml).

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