From Paris to the Mall to the Drugstore: the Smell-Alike

One afternoon last week, I sniffed my wrist, trying to remember which perfume I’d put on that morning. “Oh, Shalimar,” I thought, smelling the familiar animalic shellac of lemon, vanilla and amber. But, no. I’d actually worn Carthusia Ligea. Without too much of a stretch, it might have been Coty Emeraude or even Etro Shaal Nur.

It spurred me to think about perfume smell-alikes. It makes sense that a success in one grand perfume house would spark drugstore copies. One of my favorite vintage scents, Ciro Danger, is clearly a drugstore take on Schiaparelli Shocking with cinnamon. Or, to return to Shalimar, its success has led Guerlain to gin up copies of its own fragrance in flankers…

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