Scent and style go hand in hand. While it’s often said that you can boast a sense of style on a budget, for some reason the rule isn’t easily applied when we’re talking about scent. When people think “low budget fragrances” instant nightmares of headache-inducing smells from years gone by come to mind.


And yet in 2024, there seems to be a boom in the clone fragrance market, for several reasons.


On the one hand, the rising cost of living in a post-pandemic world has meant that people are cutting costs in their budgets, and luxury items are among the first to face the chop. With this in mind, clone fragrances have taken a new appeal.


On the other hand, dedicated clone houses have become genuine players in the fragrance market due to their likeness to the originals they mimic. I’ve tried to ignore the chatter on social media over the past few years, but this year my curiosity led me right into the heart of the Clone Wars – where Arabic brands like Lattaffa, Fragrance World, Maison Alhambra and more are fighting for the attention of an emerging audience.


I decided to dip my test strip in the water and try out a few popular clone fragrances  to see if the social media hype is to be believed and to see if the budget scents could prove to be useful in my everyday life.

Here’s what I looked out for:


Opening Scent/Dry Down

How does it smell when I first apply it? And then, how does it smell after a few hours.



For how long will I be able to smell it after applying



Can others around me pick up the scent (or worse – is it unbearably intense?)


Bonus: Sillage

Does the scent leave a trail behind it as I walk or take up space in a room?


After doing some research, I decided to try four very popular clones of very popular fragrances.


Suave by Fragrance World – Dior Sauvage EDP Clone

For R365 I picked up a bottle of Suave by Fragrance World, the Dubai-based perfume house. It’s designed to mimic the fresh, spicy, and woody feel of the popular Dior Sauvage.


I have to say, it comes extremely close when it’s first applied. It felt slightly less peppery than the original to my untrained nose and earned me a few gentle compliments from my spouse and colleagues. My only issue with Suave is that after three hours it was completely indectible and needed a re-spray.


The original Sauvage not only performs well for at least eight hours, but its smell evolves into something more ambroxan-influenced over time. Having to respray my bottle of Suave meant I didn’t get to experience that drydown which is an essential characteristic of the original.


Having said that, as an affordable every-day scent for office and social spaces, it’s a solid bargain and a very uncomplicated performer. 6/10.


ASAD by Lattafa – Dior Sauvage Elixir Clone


If Dior Sauvage is the popular kid on the block, then Dior Sauvage Elixir is the popular kid’s rich and influential dad. The Elixir is definitely a lot more intense than it’s Eau De Toilet or Eau De Parfum variants, and yet it’s unique enough to deserve its very own range of clones. Enter: ASAD by Lattafa.


Not only is ASAD the most popular clone of Sauvage Elixir – it’s arguably the most popular clone fragrance on the market right now. You can’t escape the reviews, YouTube videos and reddit comments with everyone having a say. Lattafa is another UAE-based clone house and is a parent company to several sub-brands (we’ll get to one of them shortly).


I couldn’t ignore it, but I also couldn’t ignore the intensity warnings so I opted for a small, 30ml bottle for R249 on Takealot. I was immediately impressed.


ASAD is a far heavier and more sophisticated scent than Fragrance World’s Sauve, so I applied it with caution. Despite that, I was impressed with its all-day performance and strong projection. It left a lingering scent in rooms I occupied but more importantly, I applied enough for it not to feel nauseating.


In my opinion, the stronger spicy notes make ASAD a great winter fragrance but it won’t be out of place during any other time of the year. I found it to be a close, but not identical clone of Sauvage Elixir but most online communities agree that ASAD is the closest and safest bet in the clone world. 8/10


RAMZ Silver by Lattafa – Jean Paul Gaultier Ultra Male Clone


Having impressed me with ASAD, I decided to give RAMZ Silver by Lattafa a try. I’m a big fan of JPG’s sweet-leaning scents and I was curious to see how well Lattafa’s take on the ultra popular Ultra Male would fare.


Once again, I was not disappointed. You can almost taste the vanilla in the opening notes, while the dry down was intriguing. I’m not quite sure how to place the notes but it matures as you wear it.


As much as I enjoyed that dry down, it doesn’t last extremely long.. I found myself getting about four hours of performance from RAMZ. It’s a respectable performer and projects quite intimately (which won’t offend your friends and colleagues). It might need a re-spray if you’relooking to have it last all day. 7/10


Fabulo Intense by Maison Alhambra – Tom Ford F****ng Fabulous Clone


Tom Ford’s original F****ng Fabulous is a divisive fragrance. Some find it to be confident, alluring and imposing. Others say it smells like fresh baby diapers. Going for an FF clone was always going to be a risk but I was tempted by the reviews of Maison Alhambra’s Fabulo Intense.

Maison Alhambra is a subsidiary of the aforementioned Lattafa brand but, Alhambra is forging its own unique identity in the clone world. Alhambra has also made the news after Tom Ford filed a lawsuit, suing the Emirati fragrance house for producing bottles in the likeness of Tom Ford perfumes.


The likeness inside the bottle is quite close, too. It opens on the same sage/lavender/bitter almond note and gently evolves over time into a leathery texture with hints of amber. I took the time to macerate my bottle of Fabulo Intense by spraying it 10/15 times and leaving it in a dark cupboard for about 6 weeks (you can macerate for between 1-3 months) before actually using it.


This extra process might have helped its performance and I found it best saved for nights out in a club or at a concert. Fabulo Intense is another, like ASAD, which needs to be sprayed cautiously. It projects with gusto and a few puffs on your pulse points will last you a good five to six hours.


As a night fragrance, after a month of maceration Fabulo Intense deserves a strong rating but it should come with disclaimers. It’s close to the original, but the original is a divisive fragrance. As well as that, the intensity can overwhelm those around you if you’re not spraying carefully. 6/10.


Can you really fake it until you make it?

It was a fun experiment and over three months I was able to find myself smelling good on a relative budget. My total expenditure for the four clones I reviewed was less than R1500, which is a steal compared to the price of just one original fragrance. It’s definitely cost effective – but is it sustainable?

To a certain extent, yes. At least, in my opinion. Unlike what fast fashion is to the fashion industry, clone fragrances have presented themselves as slightly more environmentally friendly solution for certain customers. Vegan perfume lovers who have been at odds with big-brand fragrance houses are now turning to clone houses that offer animal-free/animal-cruelty-free alternatives. A lot of the clone fragrances are also alcohol-free, caring to a large market who avoid alcohol for religious and other reasons.


It also appears as if the clones are not going anywhere. From a copyright point of view it’s interesting to note that, while you can trademark a specific recipe, you can’t trademark a smell. Instead, trademark laws protect what’s outside of the box (the brand, the packaging, the bottle design etc) rather than what’s inside the bottle.


Still, clonehouses are treading a little to close to thin ice for the luxury brands’ liking and it won’t surprise me to see them fighting in court as often as they are fighting on the shelves for years to come if Tom Ford vs Maison Alhambra is anything to go by.


More importantly, for us, the gents who want to smell good on date nights and in the office, clones might prove to be a realistic option for building one’s fragrance collection on a budget.


What I’d recommend for the novice perfumisto is to build a collection which comprises of three clones for every one original. This could allow you to grow your collection faster and try out a wider range of scent profiles without needing to commit to an expensive risk.


Let me know if you found this helpful and I might return with another batch of clones for us to experiment with. I get all my information on the Reddit sub /R/FragranceClones as I find YouTube and TikTok reviews to be too biased.

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