Madonna Truth or Dare : Perfume Review

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Mtod

Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

Truth or Dare? Tame or dramatic? Cheerleader or femme fatale? As I reached for the slim white bottle of Madonna’s Truth or Dare perfume at the Macy’s counter, I felt reluctant to shatter my dream of a Bandit like blend. Of course, since Coty, a company renowned for its commercial blockbusters, backed Madonna, it would be naïve to expect leather and incense. However I tried to reason with myself, I just didn’t want Madonna’s first perfume to be a cheap cotton candy blend. I spray the liquid on my skin, wait for the alcohol to evaporate and bring the wrist to my nose for the moment of truth.

I haven’t purchased any of Madonna’s recent albums, and I’m not up to date on any of the latest gossip surrounding her. I just admire her for her ability to adapt and to establish new trends. As I smell Truth or Dare, I can see that this was not meant to be a trendsetter. Truth or Dare is Madonna’s mature and sophisticated self, translated into a polished, well-behaved perfume. In an interview with WWD, she said, “My oldest memory of my mother is her perfume, I carry it with me everywhere. She always smelled like gardenias and tuberose, an intoxicating mixture [that was] feminine and mysterious. I wanted to re-create this scent, but with something fresh and new about it as well.”

Truth or Dare is a lush tuberose, with other white floral notes amplifying its creamy richness. The mélange of gardenia, honeysuckle and jasmine gives the composition its bright, dewy impression. The subtle green accent tempers the heady white floral bouquet, but the sparkling feeling vanishes soon enough. Then, Truth or Dare reveals its milky tuberose heart. The fragrance veers into gourmand territory with its hints of meringue and vanilla marshmallows. It is neither sugary nor cloying, but Truth or Dare plays with enough sweet notes to suggest an edible impression.

Madonna isn’t breaking any new ground with a white floral fragrance—Jennifer Aniston, Mariah Carey, Daisy Fuentes and Kim Kardashian have gone there before, but Truth or Dare is far more sophisticated and elegant. The powdery drydown is soft and caressing. As I smell it, a picture of a perfectly coifed woman at her vanity table floats up in my mind. You might know what I mean—that classical vintage ad where the beauty in a silk dress is leaning towards the mirror to touch up her flawless face. Truth or Dare isn’t a Fracas–although it tries—and most tuberose loving perfumistas wouldn’t give up their Frédéric Malle Carnal Flower for Madonna’s perfume. However, as far as celebrity fragrances go, Truth or Dare stands out for its mature character. This alone is daring enough for a commercial perfume.

Madonna Truth or Dare includes notes of gardenia, tuberose and neroli, with jasmine, benzoin tears, white lily petals, vanilla absolute, caramelized amber, and sensual musk. The fragrance is available for testing and pre-order at Macy’s, and it rolls out globally in May. Eau de Parfum is sold in various sizes priced $39 to $68.

Sample: my own acquisition

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44 Comments

  • The Candy Perfume Boy: Sounds great! I’m glad that she hasn’t gone for the typical diabetic-coma inducing candy floss trash that every other celebrity feels the need to release.

    As a Madonna lover (although I admit that she’s nowhere near as good as she used to be) and a white floral lover I cannot wait to try this!

    Thanks for the review 🙂 March 28, 2012 at 8:30am Reply

  • Vanessa: Fantastic – can’t wait to try it… This is my No 1 Designer Lemming…Celebudesigner lemming even! March 28, 2012 at 8:51am Reply

  • mals86: I’ve not been a big Madonna fan, but I do think it’s rather sweet that this scent is a tribute to her late mother. And of course I love me some BWFs, so I must smell it at some point. I’m a little worried about that “caramelized amber,” I admit. March 28, 2012 at 9:17am Reply

  • Robin: Oops…my review is tomorrow, sorry we’re “bunching up” again! And sounds like we’re on the same page. March 28, 2012 at 9:46am Reply

  • Sujaan: 4 stars! I’m happily stunned. When I first saw the ad I thought, oh god, here we go again with another celeb clunker, but now I am actually looking forward to heading to Macy’s. I too am not up on the Madonna machine, but I’m always impressed by her ability to keep adapting to an ever changing world, especially difficult in the music business. March 28, 2012 at 9:55am Reply

  • Victoria: The candy floss was exactly my fear, but although Truth or Dare is gourmand, it isn’t cloying. It also doesn’t smell cheap. A polished, well-mannered white floral. Definitely should be sampled, if you love big tuberose bouquets. March 28, 2012 at 10:57am Reply

  • Victoria: Mine too! I stalked Macy’s counter till they got the testers and samples. 🙂 March 28, 2012 at 10:58am Reply

  • Victoria: I would liked it more if it were less gourmand, but even so, it isn’t cloying or heavy like Mariah Carey’s first fragrance. I love big white florals, so it turned out to be a pleasant surprise. March 28, 2012 at 11:00am Reply

  • Victoria: I look forward to reading your review, R! I’m pleasantly surprised that Truth or Dare is far more sophisticated than I anticipated. March 28, 2012 at 11:02am Reply

  • Victoria: She always struck me as hard-working and determined. I still remember an interview from the early 1990s with one of her back up dancers. The interviewer was asking about what Madonna does in her spare time and where she parties. The dancer said, “let me get her off the treadmill and she can tell you herself.” In other words, she was always busy. Not sure if it was just the PR image she wanted to project, but somehow it stuck with me.

    If you like white florals, you should definitely try Truth or Dare. It also made me think of Kate Spade (discontinued) and Versace Blonde (also discontinued). March 28, 2012 at 11:08am Reply

  • Kym: So, if I don’t like Fracas (it’s just TOO much), but love Carnal Flower and find EL Tuberose & Gardenia to be a smidge too much sometimes…do you think I’ll like this one? March 28, 2012 at 11:41am Reply

  • zazie: What a nice surprise!
    I hope I’ll have the chance to sample the perfume: there have been few celebrity-scents I’ve wanted to test (and sometimes I didn’t even know the celebrity!) based on online reviews. All have been about white florals (Jennifer Aniston, and kardashian -who is she???, and now Madonna). But I’ve never seen the JA and KK on a shelf…:(

    Is this fragrance loud and diffusive?
    Usually it is the volume, and the cheap drydowns, that turn me off mainstream fragrances… celebrity or not.
    Anyway, when a perfume appears in the same sentence with Fracas, I get curious… March 28, 2012 at 11:55am Reply

  • Victoria: Truth or Dare is definitely less heady and less dramatic than Fracas. If you imagine Tuberose Gardenia with a marshmallow note, then you might have a good idea what Madonna’s perfume smells like. It is less heady than the perfumes you mentioned, but it is sweeter and warmer in the drydown. March 28, 2012 at 12:06pm Reply

  • Victoria: It’s diffusive, but not loud. I would call it elegant and well-mannered. In other words, it isn’t Poison! There is enough freshness in top to offset the richness of tuberose.

    Kim Kardashian is a celebrity knowing for being a celebrity. She is an American socialite, celebutante, television personality, model, actress and businesswoman, according to Wiki. 🙂 March 28, 2012 at 12:07pm Reply

  • Patty: Although I’ve never been a Madonna fan, I say good for her for not caving in to the celeb fragrance trend. Do we really need another “fresh” musk or fruity-floral or cupcake scent? I like that she looked to the past and to her mother’s perfume for inspiration. And although I don’t consider myself a white-floral fan, I may just have to give it a try. Tuberose can be overwhelming (in something like Fracas), so I can see myself preferring it in something that is not a heavy hitter. I like your description of it as “sophisticated and elegant”. March 28, 2012 at 12:44pm Reply

  • Victoria: I was also happy that it isn’t a cupcake! And then as I wore Truth or Dare, I realized that it’s also well-done. I was wearing it earlier today, and a friend commented that it smelled “glamorous.” March 28, 2012 at 3:27pm Reply

  • Austenfan: Glad to hear that this is a good scent. I will try to catch a sniff. I’m most certainly not a fan of Madonna, but I will count this as a point in her favour. I love white florals, so a good one will have to be sampled. March 28, 2012 at 3:52pm Reply

  • Victoria: It isn’t a dramatic fragrance like Fracas, but it’s very nicely done. March 28, 2012 at 4:23pm Reply

  • bulldoggirl: Big White Floral? I’m so there. Can’t wait to sniff it. Hopefully, my Macy’s has it. March 28, 2012 at 8:35pm Reply

  • Victoria: It’s so much better than I anticipated, and I have been wearing it happily for the past few days. And oh yes, I love most Big White Florals! March 28, 2012 at 11:55pm Reply

  • maggiecat: This does sound like a lovely, sophisticated yet commerical perfume, and I’m glad to hear it, especially since it’s reasonably priced. I won’t be going for it, as tuberose is, sadly, a note I simply can’t stand, but I can appreciate the artistry. I also liked jennifer Aniston’s scent – it smells a bit on the inexpensive side, but it’s pretty and well put together. I may need to be more open-minded about celebrity scents after all! March 29, 2012 at 11:04am Reply

  • Emma: I haven’t tried Madonn’a perfume yet but I just bought her new cheerleaderesque/girl gone wild MDNA album. I like it for what it is; fun, young, carefree, not serious and no big message in it other than girls of all ages just want to have some fun! (and if it’s with her 24 yr old brazilian studs then I’m down with it!).
    I love gardenia and tuberose and I like sophisticated perfumes 😉 March 29, 2012 at 3:44pm Reply

  • silverdust: It was within the past year or two that Madonna made some ‘fumer news with her statement that EL Youth Dew is the sexiest perfume on the planet and what she wore daily. (The SA in Dillard’s smugly repeated the EL comment, too). Seems a little odd that if she liked her mother’s white floral so much she’d go for something so utterly different in professing her adoration for Youth Dew! March 29, 2012 at 6:37pm Reply

  • minette: oh, good! was hoping that this wouldn’t disappoint! not a huge madonna fan, but figured if anyone could come out with a decent celebrity scent, it would be her. giving it four starts puts it in excellent company. can’t wait to try it! March 29, 2012 at 7:43pm Reply

  • Victoria: I love white florals, and I like how it treats tuberose. For a celebrity scent, it is great, and it can easily compete with other big launches. March 29, 2012 at 11:59pm Reply

  • Victoria: Maybe, Youth Dew didn't market test as well. White florals are popular in the US year after year. So many other celebrities go for the same genre. March 29, 2012 at 11:59pm Reply

  • Victoria: Sounds fun! I'm going to check it out. Haven't bough any new albums from her in a while. March 30, 2012 at 12:02am Reply

  • Victoria: I also try not to let the labels distract me. I sometimes test perfumes blindly, and it is a good exercise. I get more impatient with uber expensive niche perfumes. March 30, 2012 at 12:08am Reply

  • Chantal Roggeband: Finally a Parfume by Madonna 😀 And i love it! The style is great,en it smells lovely! April 14, 2012 at 3:55pm Reply

  • Nubie: When my friend and I smelt Madonna’s Truth or Dare for the first time we both immediately said it reminded us of ‘Lady of the Night’, otherwise known as the plant Brunfelsia americana which only gives off it’s heady scent at night. Sensual and intoxicating as you might expect from Madonna. April 15, 2012 at 12:03pm Reply

  • lady: Tuberose…lately everyone attempts it and so few are successful. I like this fragrance not. It should never be mentioned in the same breath as fracas May 1, 2012 at 11:43am Reply

  • Mel: My friend and I tried on Madonna’s Truth and Dare Perfume today and we are Madonna’s biggest fans ever! Love her, we were both so excitied to smell her new perfume and to our dissapointment both hated the smell! It made my friend feel sick and we can’t believe how bad it smells! So dissapointed as the bottle is gorgeous! Still have it on my wrist and I’m smelling it all the time and trying to like it, but sorry….no 🙁 May 19, 2012 at 7:11pm Reply

  • Canada: Some people in general like to shot other ‘s people success down. Lets just stick to the Madonna’s Truth or Dare perfume. I really think is very AGE APPRORIATE for the matutured and cultivated women out there. Is like fashion, most designers strictly design clothes for the youth and tend to forget the other WOMEN out there that look ridiculous wearing something that doesn’t make them feel right or comfortable . I don’t care what people say about Madonna. She has always been disciplinary in life, hard working, shrew and she earned it. Now if only we all can have the body. Go Madge go… Women power. By the way I am 42yrs of age.

    Nd May 22, 2012 at 7:40am Reply

  • Rola: I tried this at Macy’s and liked it. When it dries down, it smells a lot like a lighter old version of Fracas. I am curious to try the new formulation of Fracas. May 26, 2012 at 11:09pm Reply

  • bluegardenia: finally tried this! i’m very very surprised! i’m a huge madonna fan. i shelled out for front row tickets to her latest tour (yes, i’m that big of a fan). i’m also a huge white floral fan and wear fracas, l’artisan tubereuse, carnal flower, do son, and many other tuberose scents. they’re my every day go-to scents. alas, i wasn’t in love with truth or dare. much, much, much too sweet for me. funny that so many reviewers have stated they’re glad she didn’t go for a cupcake or candyfloss celebrity scent, because that’s what this smells like to me. gardenia, tuberose, and marshmallow-cupcake-cottoncandy-bubblegum-vanilla. the drydown is softer and more tolerable, but the opening for me is sharp, shrill, and most definitely sickly sweet and cloying. June 10, 2012 at 1:13am Reply

    • bluegardenia: Okay, okay…smelling it again this afternoon (maybe my nose works better in the daytime?) and I don’t hate it. I agree with everyone who said it’s well done. Still too sweet for me personally, but I guess it is designed to sell. I’ll get it in the bath gel form and use it as a bubble bath! June 10, 2012 at 4:45pm Reply

      • Victoria: I think that it’s on the sweet side as tuberose tends to be (especially when the coconut cream aspect is emphasized), but I don’t find it overly sugary. The bath gel form sounds good to me though! June 11, 2012 at 8:59am Reply

  • Thaumas Oneiroi: Well.. I love Madonna, very much! Just came from Paris last night to her concert, in this tour 2012 I’ve been in 3 concerts in Europe already, but the perfume… Smell like naphthalene to me.. No good at all, nothing against, but to me smell like grandmothers closet!! =-/ July 16, 2012 at 8:37am Reply

  • Vivienne: I tried this fragrance today and will buy it. I will wear it with a soft fabric material in the late afternoon with someone special by my side. Anyone who is romantic and classy but not sugary sentimental will like it. July 21, 2012 at 3:15am Reply

    • Victoria: I agree, it’s not sugary at all. I expected something really sweet like most celebuscents, but it was such a nice surprise. July 21, 2012 at 1:25pm Reply

      • bluegardenia: Most celebuscents these days must be like sugar shock! I better test some out so I know what everyone’s talking about. I feel like I’m the lone crazy person who thinks ToD smells like frosting! July 21, 2012 at 2:52pm Reply

  • Ultra: Lovely post you have here Victoria. Tuberose lovers will fall head over heels in love with this scent. There’s something about the white florals in Truth or Dare that makes us feel sophisticated and quite vintage-y. Well done, “Her Madgesty,” well done. 🙂 August 19, 2012 at 6:27am Reply

  • ShelleySmells: Well I happen to like it….alot….no Fracas headache for me and BWF are my FAVE!
    And I mean… come on… for that price its totally FBW for a Celeb scent…did you hear that Mr Ford Private Collection?!! August 28, 2012 at 5:37pm Reply

    • Victoria: Exactly! For the price, it’s great. I’m tired of overpriced luxury. August 29, 2012 at 4:17am Reply

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