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