Dolce & Gabbana Sicily : Perfume Review and On Modern Aldehydes



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

Sicily provides an interesting example of using a heavy dose of aldehydes (effervescent aroma-materials made famous by Chanel No 5)  in a modern composition. Created by Nathalie Lorson for Dolce & Gabbana in 2003, Sicily rests its floral-aldehydic heart upon the vanillic oriental base. The result is an unexpectedly seductive juxtaposition of soapy notes and powdered honeysuckle, which gently allude to the sun tan oil before segueing into the creamy sweetness of sandalwood. …

Aldehydes are quite diverse in terms of their olfactory profiles, ranging from burnt candles to waxy oranges. They are important in perfumery because when married with the floral opulence, their chemical scent turns into the opalescent sparkle that lends abstraction and intrigue to the finished arrangement.  After a long period which gave us classics like Chanel No. 5 (1921) and Nina Ricci Nina (1987), aldehydic florals have fallen out of favor.

This is not to say that aldehydes are rarely used. Quite on the contrary, they are present in many fragrances, from Comme des Garçons 2 Man (2004), where aldehydes serve as a prelude for the woody-leathery darkness to Calvin Klein Eternity Summer (2006), where they lend their metallic chill to the fougère accord. One might also discover the crispness of aldehydes in Frédéric Malle Cologne Bigarade (2001), which sets them against the canvass of bitter orange and cedarwood, or enjoy the elegance of icy aldehydic freshness in Estée Lauder Pure White Linen (2006). Indeed, perfumers are constantly exploring new combinations and materials that might serve as suitable backdrops for the aldehydic fizz.

Although Sicily has a number of modern elements, it attests to the difficulty of rendering the classical floral-aldehydic pairing without the obvious retro references. As the composition develops, it oscillates between the vintage glamour and the coquettish seduction. At the same time, the composition also demonstrates how aldehydes can lift the heft of this floral oriental and create the sand on warm skin effect that is quite sensual. Like most aldehydic fragrances, Sicily simply blossoms in the balmy summer air, and it seems like perfect choice these days, especially when I am going out in the evening.

Sicily includes notes of bergamot, honeysuckle, hibiscus, jasmine, rose, musk, heliotrope, sandalwood. Dolce & Gabbana fragrances are sold at Saks5thAvenue, Sephora, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and a variety of other retailers and discounters.

Sicily ad with gorgeous Monica Bellucci from Parfumsdepub.



  • Madelyn E: Dear Victoria ,
    Hi ! Thank you for your suggestion for a new , sexy, summer fragrance ! I emailed Ormonde Jayne – got a gorgeous website – and paid $18. (US) for 20 samples of their one -of-a-kind- gorgeous scents. Thank you,I really loved Champaca – yes it is summer, sexy and feminine. Who could want for anything more ????
    Thanks again.
    Fragrant Regards-
    Madelyn E July 5, 2006 at 2:24am Reply

  • Rafael: I remember smelling Sicily some years ago and it was definitely something I didn’t like. I guess the contrast between the aldehydes and the oriental base wasn’t something I enjoyed the most.
    I guess I was also expecting something much more daring from the D&G guys, what do you think?
    Elaborating on the aldehydes subject, I guess it would be lovely to have your review of these remarkable materials. I have the opinion that there is an interesting world out there to explore with modern aldehydes, like farenal, for instance, a molecule I’m pretty fond of.
    Regards, R. July 5, 2006 at 7:56am Reply

  • Elle: Floral aldehydes certainly have never fallen out of favor w/ me personally. Somehow I seem to have overlooked Sicily. Your review has convinced me I have to find some very soon. July 5, 2006 at 11:04am Reply

  • Laura: Must dig out my Sicily sample again, after reading this. I don’t think it’s going to be something I’d buy, but I want to try it again with your description in mind! July 5, 2006 at 7:14am Reply

  • Dusan: I wasn’t aware of the aldehydic presence either. Yes, it is soapy, more so than I would have liked, but the drydown is very sensual and vintage-powdery as you say. Plus, Monica Belucci takes my breath away 🙂 July 5, 2006 at 11:55am Reply

  • Jennifer: You know I love Sicily and have always considered it a unique scent until you article never realized it was the aldehydes that made it so unique (or that it had aldehydes). July 5, 2006 at 10:11am Reply

  • Ina: Never thought of Sicily as aldehydic but now that you mentioned it, it totally makes sense. I love its drydown (the top and middle notes are a bit too sour-soapy). July 5, 2006 at 10:58am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Madelyn, I am glad to hear that you are enjoying Ormonde Jayne fragrances. Champaca is definitely everything you mention. It is very beautiful. July 5, 2006 at 3:16pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: L, it is definitely an interesting composition, although I doubt that it is your style of fragrance. However, you should try it anyway. July 5, 2006 at 3:17pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Rafael, yes, if I can fault it for something, it would be just that. In the retrospect, it would have been more interesting to see a thoroughly modern aldehydic floral, but perhaps it is just not in the air right now.

    Aldehydes certainly deserve an article of their own. They are such fascinating materials. July 5, 2006 at 3:26pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Jennifer, I think that it would have been much less interesting without that large dose of aldehydes. They give it lift. July 5, 2006 at 3:32pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Ina, I grew to like the soapy effect in the top notes, and I think that is exactly what makes it so refreshing in the hot weather. The drydown is quite lovely, with a nice comforting quality. July 5, 2006 at 3:33pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Elle, floral aldehydes are definitely in favour with me too. I recently discovered Leonard Tamango, and what a lovely fragrance. If you like floral aldehydes, I highly recommend it. July 5, 2006 at 3:34pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Dusan, I recently watched Ricordati di Me, only because I knew that Monica Bellucci is in it. She is stunning. July 5, 2006 at 3:36pm Reply

  • alice: Dear Victoria,

    Thank you for this lovely review. The aldehyde connection explains a lot for me; it does seem soapy-rosy at first (a dead ringer for a teen-years shampoo). A friend also detected what he called a “banana pudding” note. Must be the vanillic base you spoke of. I wonder if you would kindly share your opinion on another floral-aldehyde, Mariella Burani (original)? Thank you. July 5, 2006 at 4:03pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Alice, Mariella Burani is a very lovely fragrance, with soft floral notes and a beautiful coconut-cardamom aspect that lends it an interesting edge. I have not seen in store recently, and I wondered if it might be discontinued. July 5, 2006 at 10:50pm Reply

  • sariah: I thought I didn’t like aldehydes because I’ve always associated them with very powder fragrances. But I do love Sicily, and have been neglecting it lately. Thanks for broadening my aldehyde horizons. I will have to take your suggestion for wearing it out in the hot weather. I find it to be very sexy and at the same time appropriate for my very conservative office -a rare combo.

    Yep that Monica B is something. At least I can smell like her! Thanks for blogging – Sariah July 6, 2006 at 12:01pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Sariah, I agree that aldehydes are very diverse, and it is often difficult to generalize about them. They can lend a powdery quality, but not necessarily. They can be icy, chilly, fruity, fizzy. I find them fascinating. July 6, 2006 at 5:17pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Katie, it is certainly soapy and spicy vanilla, but I do not find it dull. I find the combination interesting, especially with the dose of aldehydes added to lend another unexpected facet. July 6, 2006 at 11:53pm Reply

  • Katie: You make Sicily sounds so lovely, though alas, it simply doesn’t fit with me. I get soapy amber and spicy vanilla which pretty much stays flat on me and goes nowhere. It’s so dull on me, sigh. Sounds like it must work so nicely on you! 🙂 July 6, 2006 at 8:12pm Reply

  • Aida: Even though these comments are almost 6 years old, I have my very own to share on Sicily. I first smelled it on another woman in 2005 and found it shocking, daring, and utterly sexy and sophisticated, in a very Sophia Loren way. I did not dare buy it! I thought I was not, and I could not be that woman, that could wear Sicily like a scarf.
    Then, a few months later, I received it as a Christmas gift from my boyfriend (recent, at the time). He was not aware of my secret forbidden love affair with Sicily… he just chose it for me, as he felt it.
    No point in saying I was amazed, and probably never been flattered like that ever again!
    For me, this marks a mental transformation from girl to woman, in the most interesting possible way: through a perfume. January 21, 2012 at 7:32am Reply

  • Nora Sz.: Although I’m not an aldehyde fan (bought a rare bottle of D&G for her and then gave it to my mother without regret), your review made me curious. I blind bought this perfume two month ago and boy, am I glad I did. It is my signature fragrance now, ageless (I could have worn it years ago as a student but I can see myself using it as a mature lady) and good for any occasion. I wore it go to work, to dance the night away, to seduce men, to go iceskating and enjoyed it’s sensuality and warmness all the time. Thank you, Victoria for your inspiring review. January 14, 2014 at 3:11pm Reply

    • Victoria: It’s nice to see a comment on Sicily today, because I was just thinking about this D&G perfume and wondering if it still has its fans. I think that it’s elegant and beautiful and you’ve described it so well. Very happy that you’re enjoying it. January 14, 2014 at 4:26pm Reply

  • Nora Szekely: There are still a few bottles available here in Hungary, I Think I’ll try to pile up some more to use this beautiful scent as long as possible. Any ideas on keeping unopened perfume bottles retain their scent longer are welcome. 🙂 January 15, 2014 at 6:24am Reply

    • Cornelia Blimber: Keep your bottles in a cool place (no heating in that room; NOT in the bathroom), or even in the fridge, in their box, in a dark place. In short: cool, dark, unopened.
      Your Sicily will last for years to come in that condition. January 15, 2014 at 7:18am Reply

    • Victoria: I agree with Cornelia. Keep them someplace cool and dark, and they will last well. Also, I suggest keeping them in their boxes. January 15, 2014 at 9:23am Reply

      • Nora Szekely: Thank you Cornelia and Victoria, I will do so. January 15, 2014 at 9:25am Reply

  • Ellen Martin: I just opened an old sample of Sicily rattling around in a drawer. My first impression on skin is “yuck!” soapy, unsweet and harsh. It’s less bad on a blotter. My cat hated it.
    I don’t know if it’s the aldehydes, the long storage at ambient room temperature, or the heliotrope (which, for me, overwhelms any other note in its presence), but alas, for me it’s a scrubber. April 27, 2019 at 12:01pm Reply

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