Niche Fragrance Magazine

Do You Do Dupes?

in Reviews/Thoughts by

I do dupes. Do you?

You know the feeling. You have a sample of a perfume that takes your breath away. You want to snuggle into its warm embrace for the rest of your days. And then you take a look at the price tag. Erm, no. What am I, a human cash dispenser? If you’re anything like me, you go to Fragrantica and immediately look at what got the most votes for “this perfume reminds me of….”. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll chance blind buying a cheaper alternative if enough people says it smells just like your favorite.

Well, I’m here to tell you that that ways lies ruin, people – both financial and emotional. I have been duped many times by these “dupes”. Dupes never really smell like the perfumes they supposedly emulate. Either they are lacking a crucial ingredient, or a skill in blending, or the expensive raw materials – either way, after a while you begin to realize that your favorite perfume is probably expensive for a good reason. Buying dupes is a false economy, because what you spend on them, you miss putting towards a bottle of what you really love. If I add together the sums of money I’ve spent on dupes – which seemed to be a good deal at the time – I realize with a sinking heart that I could have had my heart’s desire many times over. Or at the very least, a sizeable decant of my heart’s desire.

Naturally, realizing this in the cold hard light of the morning doesn’t mean that I won’t do it again. I have a problem, you see. I have a little something they call hope. Hope that one day I will finally come across that Holy Grail – a dupe that does actually smell like the more expensive version of a scent. Also, I seem to have all the self-discipline of a sheep. It’s a fact – if enough people mention that something is an exact dupe for something, then I am first among the lemmings jumping off that cliff. It doesn’t even have to be for something I am particularly interested in either – just the thought of saving a few bucks gets me going. I hear my husband’s voice in my ear, screeching, “Saving money by spending money? You idiot!” He is right, sometimes.

Anyway, to get to the subject at hand: Roses Vanille by Mancera is not that Holy Grail of dupes. To be perfectly honest, I only ordered a sample of Roses Vanille when I saw all the reviews on Fragrantica comparing it to Tom Ford’s Noir de Noir. I love Noir de Noir. It gives me a lump in my throat every time I wear my little sample – there’s something about it that reminds me of the Turkish Delight candy bar I used to eat as a kid – half rose water, half chocolate. It’s nostalgia without the calories. But damn, it’s expensive. So, I am always on the look-out for dupes.

Roses Vanille is an abject lesson on the heartache of buying into the whole “dupes” idea. No, it does not smell like Noir de Noir. It is perfectly lovely, in its own right, though, just like L’Erbolario’s Meharees is wonderful in its own right and not just as a dupe of Musc Ravageur (which it only vaguely approximates anyway). It is a simple delight – roses, sugar, cream – but lasts forever and fills a room with a huge cloud of scent.

There are two things that stop me from enjoying Roses Vanille the way I think I should be. First of all, there is a stonking rubber oud note at the beginning that takes about an hour to dissipate completely and is something I am not sure anyone else seems to be picking up. But I assure you that it is there, and it sullies the simple prettiness of the basic rose and vanilla accord, which is the main point of the scent. Second, I miss the earthiness of the patchouli and truffles used in Noir de Noir to counterpoint the sweetness of the rose – the oud note doesn’t perform the same function, sadly, because it is one of those stinky, rubbery oud notes that I don’t really like.

But I realize that those things are only an issue for me and my sensitive nose, and in general, I think this scent is a real crowd pleaser. If you are sampling this one to buy, though, I also suggest getting hold of a sample of Tocade by Rochas, which is another fabulous rose and vanilla scent, perhaps the original one, and in my opinion, far more enjoyable than Mancera’s version.

So, what do you think? Does Eau des Missions from Couvent des Minimes really smells like the super-expensive Guerlain Spiritueuse Double Vanille? Is L’Erbolario’s Dolcelixir really a dead ringer for Hermes’ Ambre Narguile? Have you ever been bitterly disappointed in a dupe and wondered what the heck everyone else was smelling? And now that we’re on the subject, does anyone (PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE) know of a dupe for L’Artisan Parfumeur‘s amazing Safran Troubant? I’ve tried Ambra e Zafferano by Tesori d’Oriente (nope) and Cimabue by Dawn Spencer Hurwitz (lovely, but not a match)…..you see? I’m still looking for dupes. It’s a sickness, I tell ya…..

My name is Claire, I'm a 39-year old mother of two, and I am a freelance writer and consultant. I love perfume, any perfume, practically all of 'em. Other interests such as writing, reading, and painting fall tragically behind the perfume. It's a hobby that tends to be all-consuming (of both my time and my money).

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