Tom of Finland is one of the perfect examples of how the worse (which sadly means, quite a significant part of) niche perfumery works, and how it relates to “mainstream” alleged competitors. On one hand, here we have the witty, creative, avantgarde Tom of Finland, $85 a 50 ml bottle from fancy underground and/or luxury shops; on the other hand, there we have the ultra-boring and generic Essence de Cerruti, $15 a 50 ml bottle, that kind of uninspired cheap stuff which pops out around Christmas in the “gift boxes” section of supermarkets and chainstore perfumeries, straight from there to your uncle Reginald’s shaving shelf. Or to the “bargains” section of Amazon and the likes. Ask any niche connoisseur, they’ll probably rave about Etat Libre’s Tom of Finland and will have barely heard about Essence de Cerruti (and anyway it’s just another Cerruti: boo-ring!). Now, who composed both scents? Antoine Lie, the Dr. Niche and Mr. Mainstream of contemporary perfumery, carbon-copying the same couple of recipes over and over for any paying customer from Zegna to nu_be. Are they similar, Cerruti and Tom? No, not really. They’re nearly identical – on the drydown, they’re hilariously identical. Just blind test them side by side. The same, exact, unoriginal cheap musky leather with some minty/balsamic stuff, saffron and violet and a bone-structure of any woody Oriental designer (Cerruti is slightly heavier on the latter, while Tom leans more on musky leather). Decent per se, perfectly acceptable for Cerruti or fellow unpretentious and inexpensive mainstreamers, plain pathetic for Etat Libre d’Orange. Chapeau to these little French rascals for being so successful in fooling hipsters with this stuff.