Anyone familiar with the European discount chain Lidl will be aware that it sells both food and non-food items on a pretty random basis. On one day last week they had a delivery of guitars, apparently, and you can routinely find everything from spaghetti hoops to crocs via shower curtains, table soccer games and the occasional security camera.
One day earlier this year I noticed two new own brand perfumes named Suddenly D'Or and Suddenly Fleurs, selling at the ludicrously cheap price point of £3.99 for 50ml! My nose was drawn to Suddenly D'Or, a pretty decent fruity floral. I bought a bottle on the spot - £3.99 is a bargain by any standards. It smelt to me like a perfume that cost up to five times that ie what I would consider as the lower end of the designer market. Or at least three times, say - comparable in quality perhaps to those frequently remaindered lines like Elizabeth Arden. A few weeks later, I ran across a promotional display for the new Ghost scent, Ghost Luminous. The bulbous-bottomed bottle looked uncannily like Suddenly D'Or and the scent was even more reminiscent of the Lidl one! Notwithstanding the chronology of events, I assumed the Lidl scent was most likely a knock off of the Ghost, and not vice versa...
I felt I couldn't ask Lidl outright if they had modelled their scent on the new Ghost release, but I could at least ask them what the notes were, to see if I had correctly identified a strong resemblance. My phone call to Lidl customer services was met with a refusal. They could not help me because their Swiss supplier would not permit the release of this information. I tried to explain that the note information I was after was very much in the public domain for all designer and niche scents, and that I wasn't trying to extract the precise chemical formulation from them. So I asked the lady to go away and put my question to the supplier again.
Weeks passed, when "suddenly" I received a letter from Lidl's Product Quality Services department in Scotland:
"On receipt of your query we contacted our Quality Assurance Department who have advised that the fragrance used for our Perfume consists of apple, lime-tree blossom, violet, melon, jasmine, lily of the valley, peach, rose, iris, musk and sandalwood.
If the product is not to your liking, please return the item to your local Store for a refund."
But I do like the item! I like it £3.99's worth and more! With trepidation, I googled a note listing for Ghost Luminous - common notes are highlighted in italics:
"Bergamot, pineapple, orange, blackcurrant, melon, apples, sea breeze accord, champagne, jasmine, lily of the valley, raspberry leaves, violet, rose, freesia, sandalwood, vetiver, powdery dream, candied raspberry and peach sweet.
Okay, so the Lidl one is not an exact replica, but eight of the eleven notes listed for it also feature in Luminous. Even to my neophyte nose, that counts as a "ghostly resemblance".