As new perfume releases fly by, I can’t help but remember the old saying, “There is nothing new under the sun.” While the monotony can be a drag, it has one big advantage: if you like a particular style of perfume, you might have lots of versions to chose from, at difference price points and availability.
This post is dedicated to calling out “smell-alikes” — that is, fragrances that aren’t dupes but smell similar enough to be siblings. They might give you ideas of fragrances to try, or they might provide a proxy for a rare perfume you can’t get your hands on. I hope you’ll add your own smell-alikes to the comments.
Frédéric Malle Carnal Flower/Coty Sand & Sable. Sure, there’s no comparing the quality between these two, and smelling them side by side would probably ruin Sand & Sable for me for good. (A side-by-side of cousins Grès Cabaret and Frédéric Malle Portrait of a Lady ended in my tossing my decant of Cabaret in my give-away pile.) But if you crave Carnal Flower but your wallet opens only to the change you scavenged from between the sofa cushions, you might want to give Sand & Sable a try.
Xerjoff Irisss/Prada Infusion d’Iris Absolue. Who can afford a bottle of the glorious Irisss? That is, even if you were able to sample it before ordering it. Prada Infusion d’Iris Absolute feels a little like stiff rayon next to Irisss’s silk, but it does radiate Irisss’s rich, elegant, but slightly dirty aura. Plus, it adds an interesting patent leather angle. (If you end up loving the patent leather, try Elizabeth Taylor Black Pearls.)
Parfumerie Générale Corps et Ames/Chloé L'Eau de Chloé. These fragrances share a shot of rich rose and bitter geranium that summon the retro charms of Norma Shearer’s dressing table. Corps et Ames is mossier and lasts longer, but Eau de Chloé is an enjoyable light version. (Incidently, both fragrances remind me of Diptyque L'Ombre dans L’Eau once Ombre’s maple-sweet bit burns off.)
Guerlain Shalimar/Coty Emeraude. No, they don’t smell exactly the same, but they share a baroque mood replete with lemon peel, lavender, amber, civet, and piles of tasseled Persian carpets. Vintage Emeraude Parfum de Toilette compares well to Shalimar Extrait.
Fabergé Tigress/Stetson by Stetson. Tigress is still out there if you’re willing to troll thrift stores and yard sales, but Stetson Man is as close as your drug store. They’re both a sheer hybrid of a fougère and an easygoing oriental, although Tigress’s packaging is much more exciting.
Amouage Jubilation 25/Rochas Femme. Both these fragrances simmer with carnality. Femme is a bit more blowsy thanks to its peach and cheaper materials, but she might have a thing or two to teach to Jubilation 25’s well-bred sex kitten. Both fragrances require a tolerance for animalic odors and a penchant for cleavage. The new version of Christian Dior Diorama is a cousin.
Other smell-alikes: Hermès Bel Ami/Bois 1920 Come La Luna. L’Artisan Parfumeur Dzing!/Bvlgari Black. Frédéric Malle Parfum de Thérèse/Molyneux Quartz (kind of); Christian Dior Diorissimo/Jessica McClintock for Women.
What smell-alikes have you encountered? Please share!