8 Fragrances for 8 Madonnas

20th March, 2015

Madonna is one of the most iconic performers of all time. That goes without saying. For over 30 years she has written, performed and produced some Very Good pop music, danced very well and had some… experience in film making. 

Her latest album was recently released and by all accounts it is not at all bad, so to celebrate I thought I’d put together a selection of 20 gifs and write about perfume because I think that’s what she would want, really. 

I am taking the Madonna Trends (as laid out by Frisky and Mannish in the video below) as my cue to fragrance various stages in Madge’s career.

(NOTA BENE: I’m not using Truth or Dare because, really, who has the time?)

So, if you’re all sitting comfortably, I shall begin.


1. Disco Teen

1983 saw the release of Madonna’s eponymous debut album. It was all high pitched vocals and addictive hooks, all presented with a very modern, feminist attitude. 

Marc Jacobs’ Daisy has the run youthful energy – easy going, summery and fresh. 


2. Religious Dissident 

By now, Madonna place was firmly cemented in the Pop hall of fame. Like a Virgin and True Blue were huge successes so, having conquered popular culture, she turned to upsetting the Church. It's the obvious progression. 

Caron’s Narcisse Noir has all the appropriate connotations - a nod to classic themes, quite sexy and dodgy nuns. Done. 




3. Erotica

Now that Madge had made sense of religion for everyone, she decided to teach us all about sex. 

MADONNA FACT: before Madonna, sex, as we know it today, didn’t exist. People just rutted for a minute and then a child appeared 9 months later. Thanks Madonna. 


This isn’t the wild, beastly sexiness of Kouros or Absolue pour le Soir (That comes later). This is controlled, sophisticated sex. Knize Ten has a refined, androgynous charm while still giving a good dose of carnality. 




4. Kabbalah Techno

Now we arrive at Madonna's Ray of Light album. She went all spiritual and discovered lasers. This may have felt a little forced but what do I know. Either way, she had a lot of fun with time-lapse photography.

This wasn’t all bad though, the songs were still mainly good and it gave us the Frozen video (my personal favourite) and therefore Goth Madonna.

For the links to the spiritual, but also the nod to modernity I think L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Timbuktu


5. Cowgirl

Things go a bit strange again, here. Ali G showed up in a misjudged play to embrace contemporary pop culture (A theme which recurs through the 00s). 

Still, Music is an excellent song (The video, once again, made heavy use of the green-screen  seen earlier in Ray of Light and later in Kanye West’s Bound 2) and there was that Don McLean cover that I’m still not sure how to feel about. 

A confused time, and perhaps not the best look, but not without it's moments of brilliance. Cowgirl Madonna gets Vanille from Mona di Orio. The comfort of home but with a hard, animalic edge. 



Hung Up. 

What. A. Tune. 

What. A Video. 

Madonna proving that she was still one of the best pop performers in the world and doing so with style. 

Harking back to classic disco and pop, and that brilliantly catchy ABBA sample, this was everywhere back in ’05 when her ‘Confessions of a Dancefloor’ album came out.

It also, unfortunately, marked the beginning of an ugly tendency for the media to constantly remind us of Madonna’s age and question whether ‘She isn’t just too old for this kind of thing’. M has continued to face this rather dull question with her trademark wit and confident sexuality. 

So a fun, powerful and sexy fragrance for Confessions Madonna. I’m going with Fracas here as it ticks all of those boxes for me. 

(Yes, I realise I am choosing a fruity tuberose fragrance. And yes, I realise that Truth or Dare is a fruity tuberose, but I made my bed and I am lying in it.)

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7. Urban Madonna


We get to Hard Candy and MDNA. A period in Madonna’s career that seems to divide her fans. Madonna, with the help of Timbaland, Pharrell and Danja, took on the world of RnB. 

She firmly poked her dissenters with her ‘Sticky and Sweet’ tour and collaborated with some of the biggest names in urban music, not always successfully. 

At this point, she has made it to Absolue pour le Soir. If ever a fragrance was sticky, sweet and incredibly explicit then Francis Kurkdjian's is it. Rose, buckets of civets and absolutely dripping with honey. 


8. Modern Day Matador

And here we are. It’s 2015 and Madonna is back with a new album and a video in which she symbolically deals with the entire male sex while looking like grace and beauty. 

Etat Libre d’Orange’s Vierges et Toreros is an unusual scent that combines the violence and bloodiness of bullfighting with eroticism and femininity. 

And there we have it. A brief look back at over 30 years of Madonna. Even the naysayers will have to agree that she is a force to be reckoned with. 


As always, let me know below if you think I got anything wrong or missed a vital point in the career.  



If you like Fragrance and Madonna you may also like this and this.

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About the author: Callum Langston-Bolt

Callum Langston-Bolt worked for several years in fragrance after accidentally landing a job in a perfume shop while studying English. From the West Country he has been settled in London for seven years. His interests include fragrance, film, wine and dogs. He helps run the monthly fragrance meet-up Perfume Lovers London with Odette Toilette and Laurin Taylor.

Website: http://about.me/c.langstonbolt


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      • furrypine | 22nd March 2015 13:24

        I think you are being far too kind for her current period. Edgy niche like ELdO? No, no, no.

        She is more like Elizabeth Arden; in dire need of a new pillar fragrance, but nothing sticks. So instead they are pumping out endless flankers of Green Tea, wearing out their welcome.

        And I say this as a former fan.

      • hednic | 22nd March 2015 14:20

        Very interesting choices.

      • odioustoilet | 9th April 2015 06:15

        Nice little reading, never been a big Madonna fan but I understand her popularity.

        What little attention I paid to pop music yrs. back had pretty much disappeared by early 2000s. Now do Mettalica !

      • CallumBolt (article author) | 10th April 2015 14:45

        Metallica? That would take some research on my behalf.

        I did once seem them at Download Festival 10 years ago, but that is the beginning and end of my knowledge.

      • carlanth | 18th April 2015 23:36

        I think White Patchouli by TF would be a good one for her Like a Prayer days. Patchouli is reminiscent of her old patchouli scented LP.

        And of course that JPG classique bottle is good for her pointy conical days :D