Truth or Dare by Madonna Review

Truth or Dare pays homage to Madonna's mother, and is an obvious reference to the heavy hitting tuberose-laden Fracas by Robert Piguet, the fragrance her mother wore. It incorporates another favourite scent- gardenia. Madonna wanted to recreate the memory of how her mother smelled to her, and with the help of perfumer Stephen Nilsen, she's done a good job of translating this olfactive memory into a modern day fragrance. It plays up the religious influence of her name and Catholic upbringing, with a bottle designed to resemble a flacon of Holy Water and the resinous aspects of church incense.

Like an opening night performance, she starts off with a blast- in this case tuberose and white florals that are bold and emblazoned, but not suffocating. The tuberose misses the mark to create the well rounded buttery quality that replicates Fracas, feeling somewhat thin and engineered. While 'thin' usually signals 'cheap', like almost anything Madonna touches, it has managed to translate into shiny and new. Much like taking scraps of raggy lace and rubber typewriter bands and turning them into fashion statements and tools of empowerment. You don't feel cheated, but you're aware that we are indeed living in a material world and money inevitably has the last say when it comes to accessibility. Madonna even admitted this is what kept her from arriving earlier in the fragrance realm, emphasizing that there were issues around creating something that was quality enough to bear her name, yet affordable in the mass market that she could stand behind.
The gardenia appears green and waxy, spread a bit too thin to be lush- but there's so much going on, that you're still entertained. Like the entertainer, she may be a bit thin on vocal ability, but she sure knows  how to put on a hell of a show and make it work. Orange Blossom lends its fullness, and spicy lily nips at your nose unexpectedly, imparting a kick of peppery heat to keep the florals from becoming too heady. It reins in the tuberose and tries to tame the indolic jasmine that seems to take center stage- much like the 10yr old Madonna wearing a swimsuit and neon paint, go-go dancing at a school recital under a black light. Parents were horrified, and anyone who doesn't know what real jasmine is will be too. Indolic jasmine can smell like mothballs and in this fragrance, it acts as a conductor, sending vapours out in exhausted, forceful pants like the last vocals of Love Don't Live Here Anymore. This is where the fragrance seems to linger most, in a stage of suspended animation while the crowd screams for more, then hushes in anticipation of the spoken message.

Madonna Snr / Madonna

Without darkness there can be no light, and Truth or Dare creates a tangible example.
Resinous amber and benzoin lurk beneath the florals, giving it a dusty, (easily interpreted as powdery) vintage and austere feel to it. If you let your imagination go, you can almost feel the heavy, hard uncomfortable pews in church, designed to keep you upright and reminded that Christ endured and so must you. Yet, like a well-delivered sermon, its heavy and weightless all at once, sunken and concealed beneath the florals giving a dimension of depth, yet buoyant to keep them uplifted towards the light. The two opposites of light and dark, fluid and unmoving, create an intriguing duality that validates the seemingly corny name, rendering it wholly apt.

Skin musks and vanilla absolute buffer the zone between the two, never becoming individually obvious, instead interacting as necessary shepherds throughout the transitioning of the two extremes. The vanilla sweetens up the composition from top to bottom, making the white floral's appear juicy and succulent.

As the fragrance dries down, the benzoin and amber become more prominent and linger like the last wisps of smoke from a censer, somewhat textured and scratchy.
Sillage and longevity are reasonable. Despite being loud at first unleashing, it smooths out within minutes and unless you douse yourself in it, it should be easy enough to wear without offending.

Truth or Dare is a well crafted fragrance that isn't dumbed down for the masses. In fact, many of the masses can be heard with their protests of "old lady smell" which translates into "mature". It has the facets of a classic with a fresh and modern interpretation that should enjoy a long shelf life, providing an alternative to the sugar laden nose candy offered up by other celebs. Madonna can take a bow for a job well done, she has managed to convey the sentiment for which she strove and balanced it perfectly with her strong, persuasive, brashy-to-classy style.

Truth or Dare will be available exclusively at Farmers from May 28.

30/50ml/75ml Eau de Parfum, 200ml Body Lotion, 200ml Shower Gel


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