The Zara Red Temptation flankers have been slower to hit the Japanese retailers here, but I finally did get a bottle of the elixir version of the best-selling Zara dupe for Baccarat Rouge (BK) 540. The Red Temptation Winter and Summer versions are also out, but I don’t have them yet, and might not get to them for a while, as I have so many other fragrances I want to share will share will you. And I do think that we’re reaching a peak BK540 dupe release phase, no? This is what happens when a supremely amazing fragrance becomes so popular: Everyone wants a piece of the pie, and not just one piece – now there are flankers of the copycats.
Zara has participated in inflation, so their stuff isn’t quite as cheap as it once was, but then, that must be the case for the original perfumes they are duping, too. I was curious about what the prices are now in Japan so I ventured over to Maison Francis Kirkdijan’s website and found this. OMG, the prices are insane. The regular BG540 is now more expensive than the Extrait de Parfum used to be. This level of retail purchase is beyond reason for me, so I am probably going to be even more open to dupes than before. I only have 5 to 10ml left of the real deal, which will now be cherished.
Not only have the prices gone up, but Zara has decided to price its particular perfume, Red Temptation Elixer, at 25% higher, bringing it out of the cheap frag. genre in my opinion. A few more coins have gone into the packaging, though. There is a sleeve on the box which in itself is far more robust, and the bottle is smaller, with a curved base and gone it the plate at the top which I always thought was a tad shoddy on the Chapters line from Zara. Though the packaging is better to behold, there is only 50 ml in here, not 80 like the others in the line. I’m sure you’ve already guessed that this perfume is duping BK540 Extrait de Parfum, which IS a great deal pricier, but I wonder to what degree more expensive the ingredients in this perfume are. It could be that Zara is exploiting the situation. I don’t know.
I do know, however, that I prefer this to the original, which is interesting because when I reviewed this and the extrait, I said I preferred the original, and I stand by that. It’s all to do with that ghost quality that I enjoy, which the original Red Temptation also has. This newer release is less ghostly, but I find it more delicious, and it lasts far longer on my skin than this one does. Moreover, it is richer, slightly sweeter, and generally more enveloping, and smoother.
- Red Temptation: saffron, bitter orange, coriander; praline, jasmine, amber, moss, musk.
- Re Temptation Elixir: saffron, bitter orange, coriander, praline, jasmine, woody notes, amber, musk.
The only thing different is the substitution of woody notes for the moss if you can fully trust Fragrantica, where I found the information. But we all know that note profiles don’t tell the whole story. There is ingredient quality and proportion, to start. To me, the elixir is brighter, deeper, richer, smoother (as mentioned), and definitely denser and stronger. It doesn’t have a trace of anything bitter to hold back the reigns, and this is what I personally feel can also de-elevate this fragrance into a more mainstream sweetness, and therefore perhaps become cloying for some, and due to the synthetic nature of the concoction, potentially even off-putting to others. Not me, though. That cotton candy burnt sugar vibe is still there. Yes, I love this DNA. I’m on my second full bottle of Red Temptation (the original) and I do spritz through it quickly because I’m always chasing the ghost (read my review of BK540 to know what I am talking about regarding the ghost) and do find that Red Temptation does not last as long as BK540. Red Temptation Elixer has vastly superior longevity and indeed projection and sillage. I do feel it probably has more saffron in it, too, and all together that justifies the price difference. Less important, but yes, I like the bottle better, too.
Let’s also be real here, though, fellow fume heads: the Zara dupes are not the real McCoy. The BK540 fragrances are not 10 times more expensive without justification. It is possible that much of that has to do with branding, but all of it? I’m not sure. The reason I gushed so much over Red Temptation when it came out, was because it was giving me a decent taste of BK540 for a fraction of the price. Life is a little less sweet now with the increase, but the originals have gone up in price now, too.
Here is a note breakdown of all four fragrances so you can compare:
- BK540: saffron, jasmine, amberwood, ambergris, fir resin, cedar
- Red Temptation: saffron, bitter orange, coriander; praline, jasmine, amber, moss, musk
- BK540 Extrait de Parfum: bitter almond, saffron, jasmine, cedar, ambergris, woody notes, musk
- Red Temptation Elixir: saffron, bitter orange, coriander, praline, jasmine, woody notes, amber, musk
Zara makes use of bitter orange and coriander in its blends where BK540 does not. I don’t pick up the coriander, but the orange, yes. I’m sure the praline adds a different sort of sweetness, and of course, super pricy ambergris is not in here, but you know, even expensive perfumes make use of synthetic notes to substitute for rare and pricy finds. Ingredients like airy ISO super E for woody notes not only smell great but add longevity to fragrances.
It will be interesting to see how the summer and winter flankers measure up. I suspect they might depart a tad from the original formula, and that would be a good thing. So have you sampled Red Temptation Elixer yet? What did you think of it? How about the other flankers? Are they worth blind buying? I suspect they very well might be, for me, anyway.