Battle of the Tuxes

It’s officially springtime and that means that your cold weather fragrances now move to the back of your collection and your spring freshies are front and center, ready for action. I can’t begin to tell you how elated I am that winter is finally over. Living in New England is usually much worse in terms of winter seasons, but this season was surprisingly low key compared to previous winters. Don’t get me wrong, it was still cold, but not as much snow as we usually get. Enough about the weather, let’s talk fragrances!

So today I’ve got a bit of a conundrum for you. You’ve got one fragrance from Yves Saint Laurent called Tuxedo that’s the ultimate prize in both quality and likability (just not in the price department) and you have two other houses competing for those same accolades and some of which are…potentially better?

I couldn’t believe this either, so I had to do my own research, minus a lab coat…and a lab. I grabbed 4 decants from Decant House; The OG – YSL Tuxedo, Kismet by Maison Alhambra, Moustache by Rochas and finally The Tux by Maison Alhambra. First of all, can we talk about the fact that Maison Alhambra has TWO fragrances that smell almost identical to each other just under different names and different bottles?

Second of all, my conclusions on the testing were surprising to say the least. So, let’s break this down and see which one is closest to the original. What I’ll do first is give you my thoughts on the original Tuxedo from YSL and then give you the other three, in order from the furthest from the closest exact match. Then I’ll give you my final thoughts. Sound good? Let’s go!!

Control - Yves Saint Laurent – Tuxedo ($185 for 75ml / c.2015 / Eau de Parfum)

Let me preface this and say that if you don’t like patchouli, then none of these frags will be for you because they are 100% patchouli-heavy fragrances. I personally LOVE the smell of patchouli and am digging all four of these.

YSL Tuxedo right off the bat hits you with that undulating patchouli but is complimented with violet leaf, coriander, some black pepper, and vanilla. It’s not overly sweet but balanced perfectly in my opinion. What makes the Yves Saint Laurent Tuxedo fragrance stand out is its ability to capture the essence of a tuxedo in a bottle. The scent exudes confidence, sophistication, and elegance - all qualities that the classic tuxedo embodies. The fragrance is perfect for evening wear and formal events, just like the tuxedo itself.

With it being an EDP, the projection is really good but not as strong as I’d like. Longevity is around 9 hours in my testing and is a warmer, woody fragrance so fall, winter & spring is the preferred time to wear this. A solid fragrance from YSL with a price tag that’s a bit too high for my blood. Even discounters don’t really have this available and when they do, it’s less than $10 off of retail so not a good deal if you ask me. Overall, I’d give it an 8/10.

#3 - Rochas – Moustache (Around $60 for 125ml / c.2018 / Eau de Parfum)

In terms of clones, yes, my beloved Moustache is in third place. It pains me to say this and even though for the sake of this blog it’s in third, it’s still in the front of my collection and one that I wear frequently. It’s weird to say, but the bottle is what sold me on this fragrance on top of the scent. The 70s-esque glass bottle with the heavy cap on top and the playful way that “Moustache” is written on the bottle was icing on that patchouli-laced cake. But, in definitive terms of cloning Tuxedo, this was indeed last for me but let me explain.

The notes are somewhat the same but instead of black pepper, there’s pink pepper. Instead of bergamot there’s mandarin orange. And instead of ambergris there’s benzoin. What separates Moustache from Tuxedo is sweetness. Moustache comes off sweeter than Tuxedo and you can tell the differences between the two. Projection is higher with Moustache but it’s not a 1 to 1 clone, but oh so close. Longevity was around 9 hours.  Moustache is a REALLY good clone and worth putting your nose to if you haven’t already. This is an 8.5/10 for me for sure.

#2 - Maison Alhambra – Kismet (Around $28 for 100ml / c.2022? / Eau de Parfum)

This one was the real head scratcher for me. You have the house – Maison Alhambra. You have two fragrances in each hand, you spray them both, they smell oh so similar. You look at the notes and your brain starts to overheat because it just doesn’t make any sense.

Kismet comes right out of the gate smelling exactly like Tuxedo, and it’s really that patchouli and vanilla that are the dominating forces behind that similarity. But along with those notes the fragrance also has woody notes, nutmeg, coffee, cacao (chocolate) and vetiver. No citrus like the previous two, no pepper like the previous two and certainly no form of amber to speak of. So, while the opening smells like Tuxedo, it’s the dry down that starts to change for me in a negative way. I’m not sure what supporting note makes it unpleasant for my nose or a combination of multiple notes, but Kismet just doesn’t sit well on my skin. In terms of closeness, yes, it’s closer to Tuxedo than Moustache, but not one I’d consider owning.

Longevity was about 8 to 9 hours for me, and projection was moderate which you’d expect from an EDP. There isn’t really more to talk about with this one other than that dry down. Do you notice anything about the dry down that doesn’t make sense? Maybe it’s the woods/coffee/chocolate combination that makes it smell like synthetic chemicals to me. Overall, I’d give this a 4/10.

#1 - Maison Alhambra – The Tux (Around $28 for 90ml / c.2022 / Eau de Parfum)

Finally, we’re down to the #1 closest fragrance. Ladies and gentlemen, I can’t even begin to describe to you what this house has done to completely replicate an almost $200 fragrance and sell it for $28 (if you know where to look). I mean, if you want a refresher as to what it smells like, see #1 above because it’s all of that – not really worth repeating. The notes don’t match exactly but they are similar enough to make it work. There may be a slight difference between the two but if you’re not careful, like I was, you’d spray them on each arm and then forget which is which because they’re that close.

What’s even more surprising is that The Tux even lasts LONGER in longevity than the previous three above. So, for that value, you’re getting a next-to-designer-brand-esque fragrance for pennies on the dollar. Overall, I’d give this a 9/10. Great fragrance for the money without question.

Final Thoughts

I’d be remised if I didn’t touch on one topic before I wrap this up. This day in age we’re living in the clone wars where we have lesser-known companies competing with top-name brands for spotlight and notoriety. In some instances, I feel as though it’s a cheap way to push “knock offs” and, in my opinion, I feel like it’s a disservice to the original fragrance designer for somewhat stealing their work. I know it’s not a complete knockoff but calling a fragrance “The Tux” and making it smell EXACTLY like a fragrance called “Tuxedo” feels wrong.

I get it though, a lot of us don’t have the coin to be able to afford such an expensive fragrance, but for me, I’d rather save the money and get the real deal. That’s just me. What do you think? Are you on board with all the clones coming out? Let me know in the comments below! Catch you all in the next one!