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.