Thursday, April 18, 2024

Clone Wars: Round 1

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So last November we put out an article about fragrance clone houses, more or less making a case for their existence. Our argument is still that there is value to be had with these houses as they offer clones/dupes of fragrances that are either discontinued or are set at a price point that is utterly haram and out of reach for the rest of us.

Over the last 14 months, I’ve tested out some of the more popular clone houses and compared them to fragrances I would consider prohibitively expensive for the average person to see how they stack up. Which brands reign supreme on giving you a similar scent that won’t break the bank? Read on to find out.

Bergamote 22 – Le Labo

Retail price for 100 mL: $280

Clone Club Contenders

Dua Brand – Dua Brand kicks this round off with their version of Bergamote 22 called 22 Shades of Bergamot which sells for $60 for 30 mL (before any discounts, which they usually offer). This take on B22 is, what I refer to as, the nuclear option. It’s Bergamote 22 on steroids, launched by a rocket. To be honest, if you enjoy B22 but always thought to yourself you wished it were strong, this is going to be the alternative for you to pursue, regardless of price. For the rest of us, it’s close to the original DNA, but it’s going to knock your shoes off when you wear it.

Alexandria Fragrances – If Dua was the nuclear version of Bergamote 22, Alexandria is its more gentle cousin. Their version, Sparkling Bergamot, sells for $42.99 for 30 mL and $99.99 for 100 mL (though that size is currently not in stock). Sparkling Bergamot is softer than Bergamote 22, and the citrus presence is a little tamer. The DNA is still almost the same, but if you’re in the market for a version of B22 you could more easily wear in crowds, this is your best bet.

Fragrance Unlimited – By far the most wallet-friendly option, you can pick up Fragrance Unlimited’s take on Bergamote 22 for $42.99 in the 100 mL size. This is a pretty darned close match and the pricing is definitely a bonus for this version. My only complaint is that compared to the other options it might come across as a tad flat.

Montagne Parfums – If I had to say there was a clear winner for an exact scent-to-scent match, Montagne Parfums and its Eau Bergamote option would win, hands down. Plus the price isn’t too shabby either, with a 50 mL bottle coming in at $40. If your most important metric is finding an exact match, then this is the option you’ll want to go for (and the presentation is pretty snazzy too!).

Roja Dove – Enigma/Creation-E

Retail price for 100 mL: $532

Clone Club Contenders

Dua Brand – Dua’s version of this is called Midnight with the Mobster and sells for $65.00 for a 30 mL bottle. While not an exact match (this particular fragrance is notoriously hard to clone), Midnight with the Mobster manages to get in the 75% ballpark and definitely nailed the “coke” note associated with Roja’s scent.

Alexandria Fragrances – I’ll keep this short. They have a version they call King Tut. Don’t bother.

Boadicea the Victorious – Blue Sapphire

Retail price for 100 mL (at Selfridges only): $695

Clone Club Contenders

Alexandria Fragrances – Alexandria’s version of Blue Sapphire is called Spirit of Dubai and runs $62.99 for a 55 mL bottle, or $42.99 for a 30 mL. It smells very similar to the original, though not quite as “beast mode” as Blue Sapphire can run.

Fragrance UnlimitedTheir version of Blue Sapphire is your cheaper option, and runs at $42.99 for 100 mL, and $25 for 50 mL. Again, like with Alexandria, this is a very close match to Blue Sapphire. It’s just unfortunate that I really do not care for the original scent in the first place.

Boadicea the Victorious – Hanuman

Retail price for 100 mL: Was over $1000, currently not in production

Here’s a double punch of “haram price” as well as “limited availability”.

Clone Club Contenders

Byredo – What? Byredo isn’t a clone house! You’re right, they aren’t, but their scent, Bal D’afrique, is a dead ringer for Hanuman, and you pick up a 50 mL bottle for $144 online at Selfridges. If you don’t mind spending the extra cash, and you don’t like the “stigma” of clone houses, this is your best option.

Dua Brand – Of course, if you don’t want to pay over $100 for a version of this, Dua’s Strength of Wind clocks in at $65.00 for a 30 mL. And again, it’s pretty much a dead ringer for Hanuman, if a little bit sparklier. Bottom line, if you love Hanuman, you have options and they’re both vastly more affordable.

As I personally source and test the originals and the clone options myself, I’m still in the comparison process (read, I’m still waiting on a couple of clone options so I can at least compare two options to each expensive original), and will have a second installment of this series later this summer.

The Fandomentals “Fragdomentals” team base our reviews off of fragrances that we have personally, independently sourced. Any reviews based off of house-provided materials will be explicitly stated. 

Have strong thoughts about this piece you need to share? Or maybe there’s something else on your mind you’re wanting to talk about with fellow Fandomentals? Head on over to our Community server to join in the conversation!

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