Scenting Orphan Black’s Clone Club

If you haven’t seen Orphan Black, you’re missing out on one of the best performances by any actor on any television programme that has ever been aired, ever. Tatiana Maslany, who finally won an Emmy last year for her portrayal of Sarah (and everyone else), plays several genetic identicals or illegal clones that have found one another and fight for their survival.



The show raises questions about ethics, nature vs nurture, the future of humanity and tech. The show has recently returned for its fifth and final season, and I’ve set out to pick the right fragrances for each of the Leda ‘sestras’.


The first of the clones that we meet, Sarah is street smart and originally on the run from an abusive relationship with Vic. She’s proven herself as a chameleon, surviving imprisonment in deserts and the frozen north, and handy with an accent to go undercover or pretend to be one of her sisters. A fearlessly devoted mother to Kira, Sarah’s grungy style means that she doesn’t look like she smells all that great most of the time.


At first thought, Sarah might wear something entirely unconventional, such as Comme des Garcons BLACK, but it’s much more likely she’d wear a ‘don’t f**k with me’ modern chypre, such as Juliette Has a Gun’s Lady Vengeance.


A homicide detective, Beth got herself suspended for shooting a civilian whilst investigating Neolution. For most of the series we see Beth as played by Sarah. But through flashbacks and other nuggets throughout the show, we know she is determined to find out about her origins, enjoys running, is rightfully paranoid, has an amazing apartment, and abuses prescribed psychoactive drugs like a Hollywood A-lister to distance herself from the emotional turmoil of being a clone.

Beth would absolutely play it safe with fragrance choice – nothing too challenging for the station or yet another grizzly crime scene. A minimalist, fresh fragrance. L’Eau d’Issey by Issey Miyake.


Oh Alison. How I love thee. A devoted soccer-mom to her two adopted kids and wife to lovably dim Donnie, Alison is a recovering alcoholic with a flair for local politics, amateur dramatics, making soaps, using firearms and illegally distributing prescription drugs. Alison is, nonetheless, the responsible mom of the group – putting up finances for the sestras, and helping bury the bodies.

She’d wear something gentle, a sweet and fruity floral to maintain a façade of innocence. Marc Jacobs Daisy.


Sarah’s mirror twin, Helena was raised in Ukraine by nuns and trained in survival and as an assassin by religious extremists. Her back is covered in scars and wounds, and her spirit animal / life coach is an imaginary scorpion. After some deprogramming and meeting Kira, she starts looking out for her ‘sestras’ and appreciates what they do for her – showing her appreciation in somewhat unconventional ways.


Helena is most often covered in blood, wearing furs that she hunted herself. Vierges et Toreros [Etat Libre d’Orange] with its bloody tang and leathery warmth is spot on.


North Californian PhD microbiology student and proponent of medical marijuana, Cosima is somewhat bohemian with questionable taste in women and an in-depth knowledge of her own biology. A bit of an all-round genius and polymath, Cosima dominates board games with her lab partner’s buddies and doesn’t flinch at the thought of dissecting the cheek of a necrotic, disembodied head.

Typical of hippies, Cosima would wear a patchouli fragrance. Patchouli Patch by L’Artisan Parfumeur is probably the perfect patchouli, and thus fits our favourite scientist.


Sometimes I love Rachel. Most of the time I love to hate Rachel. Raised entirely self-aware by the scientists who headed up project Leda, before they went into hiding and left her to grow in DYAD’s corporate environment. Working to keep her sisters unaware of their origins but herself being played by the system, she is determined to rise to the top and assume power and control of human cloning.


Serving board room dominatrix realness at all times, Rachel’s attitude warns you off. But she is vulnerable, too, because of being abandoned by her parents and being in a semi-mobile state following a pencil through the eye and frontal lobe. First thought, Donna Karan Gold or Lys Mediteranee [Frederic Malle]. On further consideration, Chanel’s No. 19 is the ultimate boardroom bitch.


Practitioner of the healing art of the manicure and the martial art of krav maga, Krystal scores herself a 10 to her sister Sarah’s 7. Willingly naïve and almost intentionally obtuse, she was almost captured by two of the Castor clones and has since become obsessed with uncovering Estee Lauder’s stem cell research, confusing human cloning with a beauty industry conspiracy theory.

Krystal smells like a whole department store, but we’ll make do with Coco Mademoiselle – progenitor of 1000 fragrant clones.


A German clone with apparently unlimited amounts of cash allowing her to stay and trash hotel rooms with abandon, she’s a glamourous red head suffering with a serious respiratory condition. We don’t know masses about Katja, but she was self-aware from the age of 17 and had met several of the other European clones.

What little we can glean suggests a fire-y personality. Katja would wear something cosmopolitan but representing the desperation of a woman who knows her time is limited. Black Orchid by Tom Ford.


Tony is unlike any of his sisters, purely because he’s, well, a he. Born Antoinette, Tony became a bit of a thief and got himself into trouble, only meeting his sister Sarah as a result of calling Beth’s phone. A little rough around the edges and very sure of his masculinity, Tony seems to have a fluid sexuality and is completely at ease when not on the run.

Tony smells like a typical man hovering around the age of 30 and playing it somewhat safe: Ralph Lauren Polo Black.


So, what do you think of the choices? What are the moral implications of human cloning? And how does nature vs nurture affect a clone’s taste in fragrance?

About the Author

  • Nick Gilbert

    Nick has been working in the world of fragrance for over 15 years. He is co-founder of Olfiction, a creative scent agency offering fragrance development, training, copy and content production. He is frequently quoted in the press and has provided perfumery training globally, from London to Seoul.

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