Dolce & Gabbana Pour Femme ~ fragrance review

Dolce & Gabbana Pour Femme 2012 advert

Last week I casually scanned the perfume display at Sephora while a sales assistant made me a sample of the new Marchesa (review to come). My eyes lit on the familiar gold and red Dolce & Gabbana bottle. In the 1990s, the original Dolce & Gabbana was in my regular perfume rotation. I loved its diffusion, hint of tangerine and spice, and wide load of oriental seduction. But I hadn’t smelled it for years. “Could you make me a sample of that one, too?” I asked and pointed at the bottle 

Sure, the bottle looked more slender and elegant than the boxy rectangle I remembered, but the fragrance had so much personality I was sure it couldn’t have changed too much. I confidently spritzed my arm and lifted it to my nose, expecting a rush of memory.

Nothing. Not a single “clang” of the mental bells.

Well, maybe I didn’t spray enough, or maybe competing odors drowned it out, although I’d remembered Dolce & Gabbana as a real room-clearer if I wasn’t careful. A few blocks away, I lifted my arm again. A little tingly jasmine, warm jam, and — could it be cotton candy? Surely my memory couldn’t be that bad. After all, my almost forgotten favorites Chanel Coco and Love’s Baby Soft smelled like old friends even after years of not smelling them.

When I got back to the office I raced to my computer and clicked to Now Smell This. Yes, the original Dolce & Gabbana had been “fine-tuned” and released with a “Pour Femme” after its name.

Really? Fine-tuned? Run over twice, hosed off the sidewalk, and siphoned through a Slurpee machine is more like it. My old favorite Dolce & Gabbana from 1992 was nowhere to be found in this version.

The new Dolce & Gabbana Pour Femme has notes of neroli, raspberry, tangerine, jasmine, orange blossom, marshmallow, vanilla, heliotrope and sandalwood. Its press release calls it “passionate, sensual, and maternal.” Gone is the heavy-lidded Sicilian widow lounging in leopard print and a corset while clutching a rosary. In her place is Teen Mom after cashing in her first royalty payment.

Pour Femme opens with a gently aldehydic raspberry and neroli sprinkled with powdered sugar. Jasmine buzzes in and skips along the sugar syrup. Generic summer garden flowers and a hint of sandalwood and musk lend body. The new Pour Femme is humorless and inoffensive. It’s suburban-pretty with a fruity twist, kind of a white zinfandel of perfumery — someone who doesn’t care about wine will like it well enough, but the rest of us might opt for seltzer water and skip the sugar headache in the morning. The old Pour Femme’s naughtiness is gone gone gone.

Pour Femme is tenacious, too. It lasts a good six or seven hours on me, and its vanilla becomes more pronounced as it ages, then peters out, leaving a trace of white musk. Once the jasmine burns off, Pour Femme smells perilously close to an industrial scented candle.

This morning I rode my bike through the rain to interview someone on hunger policy. I was wearing Pour Femme. As I warmed up in the conference room, a force field of sweet berries and marshmallow grew around me. It would have been one thing were I a fourteen-year old flower girl, but as a full grown woman talking about children who went without dinner, I was mortified. 

If you weren’t expecting something entirely different when you picked up Pour Femme, and if you like your fragrances sweet and girlish, you might adore Pour Femme. Here’s the thing, though: I guarantee you can find something equally appealing for a fraction of the cost at the drugstore. Start with Britney Spears Fantasy and move through the celebrity fragrances from there with an eye on balancing sweet fruit with floral goodness. With a beautiful atomizer, no one will ever know it didn’t come from the department store.

Dolce & Gabbana Pour Femme is available in 25 , 50 ($77) and 100 ml ($98) Eau de Parfum.

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48 Comments

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  1. I like the original Dolce & Gabbana. 80s-style floriental. It still had a fanbase – I’d sell it to older women when I worked in Macy’s, people who’d been wearing it for years. I venture they’ll be very confused & chagrined by this “tweaking.” I bet you’ll be able to find the original at discounters and drugstores for some time still, though. In fact, I saw it on the flash sale site HauteLook this morning.

    Have less than zero desire to try the “re-worked” Dolce and Gabbana. I mean, I’m barely interested in trying the house’s super-fancy Velvet line. Their perfumes are just horrible these days IMO.

    • Angela says:

      I bet a lot of people will spritz it and drop their jaws in shock. It’s not the same fragrance at all. Not one bit. Hopefully the pink juice will clue them in before they make a blind buy thinking they’re replenishing an old favorite.

  2. Absolute Scentualist says:

    I loved the original D&G ever since discovering it on a scent strip in Vogue when it launched during my early teens. It took a while for my budget to make some room and for me to feel like I was old enough to carry it off, but I bought a bottle as soon as I could. And, I still love it now all these years later.

    I don’t generally have a problem with well made fruity florals, but have a huge problem with fragrance companies “reformulating” or “revamping” original and wonderful frags or launching flankers that have nothing to do with the original i.e. Coco Noir or my recent griping about Miss Dior Cherie. Dior seems to be especially guilty in that department.

    If D&G wanted to release perhaps a Femme “light” while leaving the more sexy bombshell original for those of us who like it, that’d be great. And I’d give the new D&G Femme a try from the perspective of an entirely different fragrance.

    But sadly from your description, Angela, this one isn’t even in the same neighborhood of its spicy, stunning and sensual predecessor, no matter how often she puts on grown up high heels and plays in the big girl makeup of the original D&G Femme. A shame and perhaps I’d better stock up on the original and adjust my expectations for the reinterpretation accordingly.

    • Angela says:

      For me, probably a large part of my disappointment was that I was expecting a whole difference fragrance. But even if I knew ahead of time it was something different, I still wouldn’t be tempted to wear it. It smells light and fruity and pretty, like a thousand other fragrances.

  3. Merlin says:

    Wow, the tester I tried of this must have been an old one because it was very spicy and oriental. Is there any way to tell the new ones from the old by looking at the sealed box? Sometimes shops have old testers and you buy a box only to find the one you bought must be a re-formulated edition.

    • Angela says:

      It must have been the old one you tried. I don’t have the boxes in front of me, but I wonder if the new one has “pour femme” on the box and the old one doesn’t?

      • Merlin says:

        I’ll have to check!

        • Angela says:

          The new juice is apparently pink, too, although I didn’t notice it at the back of the dim Sephora.

    • 50_Roses says:

      That happened to me with Mitsouko, and I’m still stinging from that.

      • Angela says:

        Oh no! Did you try a tester with the old version then end up with a bottle of the new?

        • 50_Roses says:

          Exactly. I didn’t know they were different versions until I got home and sprayed some from my newly acquired bottle. This was back in 2008, apparently shortly after the fatal reformulation, and I didn’t know. I did manage to swap it away in the recent Swapmeet, though, for a bottle of Messe de Minuit.

          • Angela says:

            What a disappointment! I’m glad you made something good of it in the end, though.

          • Merlin says:

            I actually think one should be able to return an item if it is markedly different from the tester that is presented.

          • Angela says:

            That seems only reasonable to me.

  4. Alem says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with your review: I, too, went to the fragance looking for my old love, for that stunner fragance that I used on my wildest nights – and at first I thought that I had became old. And, yes, I’ve become old, but this “new” Dolce & Gabbana is not even a shadow of its former self… Such a pity…

    • Angela says:

      It really is a new and completely different fragrance in my mind.

  5. olenska says:

    When I was living/working on the outskirts of Newark in the ’90s, D&G was everywhere. Business executives & bus drivers, secretaries & sales counter clerks, “real housewives” and waitresses– all wore it. In my memory, it remains the scent of democratic female hope, respecting no boundaries of age, ethnicity, income, history, or zip code. For those of us who lived on the “wrong side of the tracks”, it was a tiny bit of glamor we could afford– even if “affording” it simply meant knowing where a test bottle could be had for a free spritz. But it was NEVER cheap smelling…. and this redux sounds as if it smells cheap, and therefore kills that wonderful, equalizing hope. Boo.

    • Angela says:

      I love the idea of a fragrance smelling like “democratic female hope”! Now it simply smells like mediocrity–to me, at least.

  6. nozknoz says:

    LOL at “Really? Fine-tuned? Run over twice, hosed off the sidewalk, and siphoned through a Slurpee machine is more like it.”

    Haven’t sniffed either old or new D&G, but it’s true of so many old favs! :-(

    • Angela says:

      This truly is a whole new fragrance. I think “fine tuned” is very, very misleading.

  7. bluepinegrove says:

    Angela, you have inspired my haiku for the next open thread, if you don’t mind my stealing “teen mom” for a fragrance name. Lol!

    • Angela says:

      I love it! I eagerly await your haiku.

  8. Marjorie Rose says:

    Great writing as ever, Angela! I think I would find such a change terribly jarring and disappointing! One of the beautiful things about fragrance is that it is ephemeral, but this sounds like more than that–intentionally misleading marketing. I don’t like that IRFA restrictions and species becoming endangered have changed scents over time, but I begrudgingly accept it as part of the deal. But to make such a drastic change (or the deeply confusing Dior shenanigans), seem pretty unacceptable. Like writing a novel, deciding you don’t like it, and keeping the title and cover art but changing the story!

    • Angela says:

      What a perfect comparison–I feel exactly like I picked up an old favorite novel and found a completely different story.

    • Merlin says:

      And about the misleading marketing, see my comment above – about when stores have old version testers but are selling re-formulated versions. Mostly I don’t think its intentional – but I don’t think the customer should be paying for their mistake. After all, at least one can page through a book before buying but perfumes often come sealed in shrink wrap.

      • Angela says:

        I really doubt it’s intentional, too. The natural thing in a store would be to unwrap the next tester when the old one runs out and assume they’re all the same. Sometimes they’re not!

        • Jillie says:

          I get frustrated when the testers have actually turned, and the SAs look at me as if I am mad when I quietly point this out!

          Thanks for the info on the D&G, Angela – I have already ordered an old bottle, before they become elusive/too expensive..

          • Angela says:

            Oh yes, the turned tester. That could be a real drag.

  9. pigoletto says:

    Yep, these are 2 completely different scents. I take it they feel they get away with the ‘tweaking the formulation’ because they both supposedly have orange blossom. From a slightly disinterested point of view, I don’t find the new one badly made – it’s better crafted than a lot of the ones of that tarot card inspired series – but there is no doubt it is a gourmand fruity (with a smidge of floral) scent. The new Ivoire is a bit in the same vein – it’s got more in common with No 19 Poudre (uber soft green with musky vanilla powder drydown) than the original Ivoire. No sharp soapy galbanum anymore. Matter of fact I would even say it is only a hint of green now – there is way more green from the iris-galbanum in 19 Poudre or the deliberately watery galbanum of A Scent by Issey Miyake than what they’re done to the new Ivoire. Again, not badly made, but wise heads should not consider it related to the original.

    • Angela says:

      I have on my list to find the new Ivoire to sample, so it sounds like I’d better get into the frame of mind that this is NOT the old Ivoire. I loved the old Ivoire’s personality. Oh well! Maybe I’ll like this one, too.

  10. Nile Goddess says:

    OMG ….

    When I saw the name and before scrolling down I thought “reviewing this old gem … it can only be Angela” but as I LOVE the original soapy, aldehydic, Sophia Loren-ish fragrance I prepare to be delighted …

    … and got a cold shower instead.

    Better stock up on the old Pour Femme while it’s still available then.
    Hopefully Sicily won’t meet the same fate.

    • Angela says:

      Yes, people who love the old red cap D&G had definitely better stock up. The new version is no substitute. I haven’t smelled Sicily in ages, but I loved By.

      • Merlin says:

        Just to check, the old one is the one in the picture with the pink juice and the lid that is dark at the top and gold at the bottom? Its weird – I cant find any pics of DG like this on the web…They all seem to have the pale gold juice and red cap?

        • Angela says:

          The one in the picture is the NEW one (which doesn’t live up to the sultry woman in the ad, by the way). The new one has the pink juice, and the old one has the red, squared cap. I bet a lot of people will be confused!

  11. Racine says:

    I remember my best friend´s mother calling it “The Easter in Seville” frag, since it reminded her so much of her time there watching the parades from a balcony surrounded by orange blossoms and carnations.
    I tried the new one and it´s just another fragance, cannot imagine why would D&G, or should I better say the execs at P&G, choose the same name and almost identical packaging for this. I can tell the cap is different and also the box is dark red, almost wine.
    Funny that the only redesigned the bottle of men´s counterpart, pour homme, the juice remains the same. Thank god since this one of my favs, specially for winter!

    • Angela says:

      That’s not fair that the men’s scent wasn’t monkeyed with! Well, so much the better for them, I guess.

      I really do need to smell the old D&G now. It’s been so long that I only have an impression of it rather than a clear remembrance. Your description is so nice.

  12. Kaleefornia says:

    I have the original in my store, and I am constantly warning people about the new one and how misleading it can be. It’s like the Opium revamp all over again for my customers. It doesn’t help when patrons are constantly mislead to believe they are buying the same product and it is completely changed. Also, I just wanted to add how much I love following the reviews and new product information on here. I frequently use it when helping customers looking for something new or specific that we don’t carry.

    • Angela says:

      I’m so glad you’re able to let them know before they end up having spent good money on something they didn’t intend to buy! I’m also glad that you’re finding useful information at NST.

      • tweetybird says:

        Agreed, so frustrating….old adage “why mess with a good thing?” comes to mind. Then when the “new and improved” version comes out, people think it’s a fake….oldies but goodies like this evoke such sentimental memories…a smell of the “improved” can be like waking up from a nightmare…startling, confusing, and alarming to the senses

        • Angela says:

          The worst part is that it isn’t even clear by the packaging that it’s different!

  13. perfumesecrets says:

    I really didn’t care for the original at all, and to me it smells like the early days of D&G in 1992. They’ve been quoted saying they were really young when they made it, and to me that kind of says it all. They were over it, or perhaps it wasn’t selling. I saw it in TJ Maxx a few years ago and thought it was already discontinued.

    • Angela says:

      It’s hard to know how much designers actually have to do with their fashion houses’ perfume launches, too.

  14. texasperfumista says:

    I always was a huge fan and lover of the original formulation, however Ido love the brand so I decided to try Pour Femme after much research. I really like it a lot, but my problem is I just CAN’T smell it on me. For reference, my usuals are Dior Addict, Picasso, Armani Code, those types…deep and heavy. What I usually do like I did in the case with Candy (I had the same problem) is layer w a strong lotion with a particular note in the edp. With Prada Candy, there are some great options to deepen it, but w THIS one, I literally went through the large bottle in less than 2 weeks. It layered well w a blackberry lotion I have. I desperately want another bottle but don’t want to spend another $98 to not be able to smell it myself but most importantly (to me anyway) is to garner compliments on what I am wearing an introduce a new fragrance I to someone’s life. Anybody have the same issue or suggestion to this problem, making it deeper and longer lasting? I sooo want another bottle!!

    • Angela says:

      We did a post a while ago about getting perfume to last. You might try some of these suggestions (and be sure to look in the comments for more suggestions, too): http://tinyurl.com/crdszu3

  15. Villagebeaute says:

    When I read that it would be an improved version was all happy, however, I was disappointed. Dolce & Gabbana perfumes fell trendy sweets with red fruits. I bought without testing before and I was sad, because he disappears into my skin. I’m really sad for D & G red be discontinued.

    Dâmaris
    Blog Village Beauté
    from Brasil

    • Angela says:

      I miss the old version, too. It reminds me of a certain time in my life.

  16. Debbi says:

    Can anyone please help me? I love love love D & G Red cap released in 1992. My bottle states made in Italy. I see many bottles with red cap not in the old glorious velvety box. Does this mean the original formula is not the same? Especially because they are made in Germany. I know the new purple box, purple lid, rose colour juice is the new one released in 2012 and is distinctively different. If the cap is red, does that mean I’m still buying my old favourite? Crazy that there is no contact available on the D & G website. Thanks so much :)

    • Angela says:

      I wish I could tell you! You may simply have to see if you can find a tester and sample it to make sure it’s not the 2012 version. If you do find out, please let us know! I too love the old version.

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