Madonna – Truth or Dare


Madonna‘s Truth or Dare attempts to pay homage to the grand dame of all tuberoses, Fracas, but unfortunately falls flatter on its face than Madonna does while singing Like a Prayer:

After a twirl of giggly bubblegum-my, marshmallow-y tuberose more suited for a tween pop star than the 55 years that Madonna really is (as of 2014), Truth or Dare sobers up and attempts to show some grown up flesh by playing peekaboo with some gardenia and jasmine, before collapsing into an all too generic musk within the hour. Unfortunately, Truth or Dare is ultimately thin, angular and reedy, and lacks the voluptuous curves demanded by a white floral fragrance . In short, it describes the singer to a T:


To be fair to Truth or Dare, Persolaise deemed it to be “not as terrible as as we might have suspected” while The Candy Perfume Boy reported that it smells “much more expensive than it is and is much better than it needed to be”. But I disagree with their implicit assumptions that we ought to hold celebrity scents to a different standard.

Madonna may pray, Give me all your luvin’, but at the end of the day, Truth or Dare leaves me Frozen.

~ The Smelly Vagabond

[P.S. I don’t think I’ve ever inserted so many music videos into one post before!]

9 thoughts on “Madonna – Truth or Dare

  1. Even though I do not like tuberose and celebuscents in general, didn’t like Truth or Dare in particular and has never been a Madonna’s fan, I feel like this review is too mean for no good reason. Most artists do not perform great in 10,001st live show – but their fans go there not for the performance. And you can find a really not flattering picture of any super-star or super-model, even when she’s 25 – let alone 55. What does it prove? Truth or Dare isn’t better but it definitely isn’t worse than the majority of its price range mainstream siblings so Madonna hasn’t offended our collective sense of beauty and hasn’t tarnished the proud name – Perfume – so why are you so spiteful?

    • Dear Undina,

      Your comments echo Sabine’s, who commented on Facebook. I’ve reproduced her comment here and my subsequent reply:
      Sabine: “Joshua my dear, I found your post a bit problematic. Is it really necessary to mention her age in such a way? And the very unflattering photo? Say what you like about the scent, but please keep women’s appearances out of it, even if they’re a celebrity.”

      Me: “Hey Sabine, I didn’t mean to be insulting to Madonna in any way, and I don’t think the post reflected that – I mentioned her age to highlight the disconnect I felt between the scent and who she is. It’s what I would do if Elizabeth Taylor released a syrupy sweet marshmallow fragrance, and I would do the same if a younger celebrity had released something that smells more dated. So no, nothing wrong with growing old (in fact it is true that we idolize youth too much), I would much rather have an ‘older’ smelling fragrance being an old soul myself. Likewise with connecting the scent to Madonna’s look: we do the same with brands such as Guerlain, where we say that a release doesn’t share the Guerlain DNA (e.g. Idylle). But how do I say that Madonna’s perfume shares her DNA? She’s not an established brand with a certain “smell”, so I can only compare the scent to the person herself. I would do the same even if a male celebrity had released the fragrance – I think it’s fair game if one releases a fragrance exploiting one’s celebrity status.”

      To add on: regarding the photograph, I don’t understand why you immediately jump to the conclusion that I find it unflattering – I don’t! I think Madonna’s look is thin and angular precisely because she is strong, fit and deviates from the societal norms of how women ought to look (and then again this differs from society to society). My point was that the fragrance was in this case thin and angular, and not what one would normally expect from a white floral, much less a tuberose. Regarding the fragrance, I really didn’t like it, and I can think of many better celebrity fragrances within the same price range: SJP’s Lovely, Dita von Teese Eau de Parfum etc. And I definitely tried to be fair by including differing views by linking to both Persolaise and The Candy Perfume Boy’s posts on the same fragrance. But we will have to agree to disagree on the notion that Truth or Dare “hasn’t offended our collective sense of beauty and hasn’t tarnished the proud name – Perfume”.

      So now, without being rude (and I hope you don’t take it this way), I pose the question back to you: Why did you immediately think that the picture of Madonna was ‘unflattering’?

  2. Regarding the photos, I think that anyone would think that those overly punished arms are unflattering: but she did it to herself. She paraded them ‘proudly’ in public, so fair game. She is a MASS of contradictions, that woman I tell you. I have such intensely mixed feelings about her. And the perfume IS ridiculous at times, though like others have said I also think it is better than a LOT of celebrity scents.

    You and Undina both tell it like it is (as do I). This gives rise to interesting, spiky exchanges in my view – there is WAY too much run-of-the-mill smooth talk on the perfume fora!

    • Dear Neil,

      Thank you for chiming in. I hadn’t read your post on Truth or Dare prior to writing this but just have, and as always, brilliant writing fusing the scent with her music. Perfume-wise, I find myself wondering why it is that many find it better than most other celebrity scents – Is it because she decided to use tuberose instead of a regular fruity-floral accord? But if that is the sole reason, then it really just boils down to personal taste, and someone who prefers fruity-florals (well, not regular perfumistas, I surmise) would find the other celebrity scents better. For if I evaluate it solely on its own terms, in terms of what it tries to convey, the tuberose falls really, really flat for me within minutes, and that is after the explosion of marshmallow-y sweetness. And yup, I couldn’t say much about it, hence the very succinct post.

      Regarding the more touchy issue of appearances, I personally wasn’t passing any normative judgment on how Madonna looks/looked – everyone has a ‘type’ they prefer and so long as they’re eating healthily and not sending the wrong signals, I’m ok with that. This raises an interesting question: should we care about and comment on how celebrities look? To the extent that some celebrities send the message that it’s ok to be stick-thin, thereby inducing those who are more impressionable to adopt diets that aren’t healthy, I would say that there isn’t anything wrong with talking about how they look. But on the other hand, even when we regular folk walk around in public, we similarly ‘display’ ourselves for anyone to see, albeit to a much smaller audience. And yet we would think it a violation of our privacy if someone were to snap a photograph of us, post it on the internet, and comment on our appearance. These are some of the issues we ought to grapple with when it comes to appearance, celebrities, and privacy.

      And yes, I suppose the exchanges might be ‘spiky’, but do know that I have full respect for all of you and your views, and welcome you to be honest with them.

      • That is why I really enjoy your blog. It is very refreshing and satisfying somehow, visually and in terms of writing style. It goes straight to the cerebral cortex!

      • (not arguing, just a couple of thoughts)
        I think that celebrities are “fair game” when they put themselves out – interviews, awards evenings, magazines, etc. So if Madonna were to appear in that outfit on a Letterman, I would have said that in her state of health she shouldn’t have worn that t-short if she cared to look good. But in their private lives people do not have to be on a constant display, even if in their professional capacity it’s part of their job. Well, unless somebody makes a point that everybody always should look their best and should be ashamed to be seen in any other way – than this person should be open for criticism 24/7/365.

        As to the perfume in question: I hate tuberose – even in its best renditions. But I thought that Madonna’s perfume was a step up compared to endless celebrity fruitchulies.

  3. As a soon-to-be fifty-five year old myself, I feel conflicted over this scent. I really liked it when it first came out, and thought it was like Fracas meets Mon Jasmin Noir (the nougat note) and wore it quite happily to go out of an evening…then over time it irked me, seeming too loud and shouty and sweet and musky all at the same time. The photo puzzles me, though – is this how I might look if I worked out, or if I worked out and then quit for a while? Either way, I think I’ll stick to my bingo wings…

    • Dear V,

      You look perfect the way you are! ❤ And don't worry, I've got bingo wings myself and I'm in my twenties heh. Yeah at first I got Fracas-vibes, but then I realised just how different, and inferior, it was. Not that we needed another Fracas, but I didn't feel as though it said anything worth saying, and I really disliked it on my skin.

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