When Calvin Klein launched CK2, the new update of its legendary unisex cologne CK One, it did so with much postgender fanfare. In addition to a bottle with multiple anatomical interpretations (pictured at right), a provocative ad campaign shot by art photographer Ryan McGinley features models paired in various guy-guy, girl-girl, androgynous guy–androgynous girl configurations. The company says the fragrance “celebrates the diversity of connections between two people…defined by who they are, not what they are” and that it is a “gender-free fragrance for a man or a woman, without prejudices.” So what exactly does a prejudice-free fragrance smell like? In this case it’s bright and cucumbery, with the subtlest of sweet wood notes. It doesn’t indulge in the typical markers of masculine (super earthy) or feminine (floral) and as such is something versatile, inoffensive, everyday and, in a word, normal.
THREE (MANLY) POSTGENDER FRAGRANCES:
Le Labo Santal 33
If you want to musk up, this is the hipster cologne to do it with (smelled in emerging zip codes in New York and L.A.). It’s intoxicatingly woodsy, funky and spicy—and best used sparingly.
Escentric Molecule 01
This cologne has grassy, fresh-cut wood aromas and reacts to your body chemistry to create a unique scent. Women will need to lean in to smell it, which is a good thing.
Byredo Rose of No Man’s Land
Named for the frontline nurses of World War I, this unisex perfume has subtle rose notes; wearing it is a true test of a man’s trans-scent-ual confidence.