Return of the Clone Wars !


Recently on Basenotes.net and Fragrantica.com there have been threads in the “men’s” forums about how close Armaf’s Club de Nuit Intense for Men is to Aventus. Some may laugh at this notion, considering how much discussion there has been for a long time now about batch variations in Aventus (and I pointed out in a thread that one could not “clone” Avenuts even if he/she was willing to spend a huge amount of money if you believe in the batch variations – the best you could do is to “clone” a particular batch). Obviously, the idea is find a replacement for a very expensive scent that doesn’t leave one feeling “deprived.” However, this is clearly something one can only decide for oneself.

And yet the new threads keep coming, with various claims, such as:

1. The person starting the thread is a “shill,” “troll,” or something along those lines.
2. There can never be a “true clone” (for one reason or another).
3. Clones are nothing new.
4. Sometimes the clone was released before the expensive scent was.
5. “Luxury items” are not to be compared to “knock offs” (I guess the fake Rolex watch being a prime example).

I think number 3 is worth pursuing, in that when I sample a vintage scent for the first time, I often find myself thinking that it was clearly “inspired” by another scent (s). There are quite a few examples, such as Tenere and Boss Cologne (now #1), and of course the army of scents similar to Gucci’s Envy for Men. Some seem to be “in betweeners,” such as Carven Homme, which features elements similar to Envy on the one hand and Heritage/Zino on the other. The other day I wore vintage Alain Delon, and my thought was that it was like a weird combination of elements from vintage 1-12, the honey-dominant vintage ones like Kouros, Tenere, and Boss #1, and some basic leathery scents (sort of a murky, blended aspect that gives the impression of an old baseball glove).  When do we use the term “clone?”

In the case of the Armaf scent, it seems that there is a clear lemon note that is inconsistent with Aventus, for example. Does that mean it is not a “clone?” And of course one can argue that the top notes of a scent were “cloned,” but the drydown was not, or vice versa. What I liked about another “Aventus clone,” Lomani’s AB Spirit Silver, is that there’s a kind of burnt coriander note that I enjoyed, whereas lately I have not enjoyed clear coriander notes. I can’t remember what Aventus smelled like a few hours after application, but I’m not sure I would prefer it to the Lomani! Of course one can argue that after spending $200+ on a regular-size bottle, the buyers are going to think that a $20-25 “clone” can’t be “as good,” and that this affects their ability to assess at least some scents, but I think that after one has done quite a bit of sampling, it’s easy to get a sense of where “the reality” probably lies.

So, where is that, exactly? I’ll use the example of Virgin Island Water, which I recently sampled. At first, I was struck by the similarity to Laguna (“women’s”‘ version), in terms of at least a central accord. My thought was that if Laguna was layered with vintage Set Saiil Saint Barts for Men, one could get close to VIW. In fact, my guess is that it would smell better (to me). Laguna provides a soft, particulate quality that SSSB does not possess, whereas SSSB has the “spikey” elements that supplies contrast and dynamism. I usually don’t think much when someone says that this and that scent can be layered to produce a third scent, and here I’m not saying a “clone” would be the result. Rather, this is what I’m seeking in this kind of scent, at least in recent days.

The key point here is that this is my reality, in the recent past. I have no idea if it will be my reality tomorrow. I don’t really pay much attention to reviews any more, in terms of “blind buying,” other than to get a general sense of what the scent might smell like. For example, if someone said that a “clone” of Patou Pour Homme had just been released, I would be in no rush to get it, because I have to want to wear the scent in question often, and these days I’m finding that “cheapos” can be quite compelling (and of course I’ve got a bunch of vintage scents from which to choose as well). Along with a few niche that I like, what is the point of the “clone?” If you want a “panty dropper” scent, the “clone” may very well work out fine, whereas if you are an aficionado (and have plenty of money to spend on these concoctions) why would you even think about the “clones?” So, if you want a “clone war” to be in your reality, that’s your decision.

Yes, if you bought a few “clones” and they disappointed you, it’s something you can mention on a relevant thread, but isn’t it time to stop there and just refrain from buying such scents in the future? If you’ve got the money to buy a bunch of clones, why not just buy a decant of the “real thing,” if money is a factor, but not such a huge factor that you can only buy one clone? Last week, I purchased Sun Java White for Men, because I remember enjoying Silver Mountain Water’s first half hour but then didn’t smell much of anything (as a “newbie”), so I thought that from the reviews it was worth the $12 or so I would have to pay for it. I am pleased to report that there is a very interesting and pleasant accord present, though it doesn’t seem as rich, complex, etc. as SMW does for that first half hour. Because variety is very important to me, I’m glad I now own a bottle, and also that I didn’t pay retail for SMW. However, if you only want to own ten or so bottles, and retail Creed prices are not an issue, then I’d advise to just avoid even thinking about the “clones.” Get “war” out of your consciousness !

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