I'm a little wary of celebrity scents in general, however, I decided to try Madonna's fragrances for a couple reasons. Though I haven't felt inclined to listen to her music or keep up with her in over a decade, I have a huge soft spot for this living style & music legend who influenced my adolescence so much. When I saw that she had a couple of her own fragrances, I instantly thought of her appreciation for vintage and classic movie stars/style, and I crossed my fingers hoping for that old school, classy Madonna to shine through.
Boy, did she ever! Where do I even begin? I guess with a warning: You must love white florals to appreciate this gem. If you're the type who is sensitive to white florals, let the blindingly white bottle stand as a blatant indication of what's inside, and run far, far away!
However, if you can appreciate intense white floral notes, you simply MUST try this one. The tuberose is relentless and booming, it wafts around you for hours. It may take several minutes for the more subtle notes to start shining through and lending a little bit of spice and creaminess. Madonna certainly succeeded in creating something "classical and timeless yet modern". Truly gorgeous and dangerously intoxicating. There's just one thing: I wouldn't suggest this for casual wear - I'll personally be reserving this for the times I need to feel a little more elegant or confident, say for classy dinner parties or higher-end restaurants.
Lastly, this is one of the most powerful fragrances I've ever tried in terms of sillage and longevity. I didn't expect much for the price, but I was unbelievably stoked after my first spray.
Breathless Mahoney, ahoy!
When I wear this people come in closer to smell it. It is my new fav. I like the bottle. Its suppose to be Holy Water.
Truth or Dare by Madonna is one of my favorite celebrity scents and I (love to) wear it. The opening is rather generic with billowy white floral and a dash of aldehydes, but the rapid transition to animalic white floral adds a brilliant and modern twist. The tuberose, so loud in the opening, fades to the background and exposes a hefty dose of orange blossom and lily. Several reviewers describe the dry down as caramel or amber, but to me, ToD is all about the buttered popcorn. Compared to Fracas, ToD is almost “gourmand” and is stripped of most of the shrill green jasmine. The peach and oakmoss accords have been removed and the white florals are creamy instead of soapy. To me, ToD is a substantial departure from its inspiration and I would not consider one a replacement for the other.
The way Stephen Nilsen handled the relatively inexpensive ingredients deserves some recognition—to me ToD smells like it was plucked out of an ELDO lineup. I wonder if an ELDO collaboration would have produced a truly ground-breaking perfume or if Madonna is simply doing what she does best—repackaging, rebranding, and repurposing.
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Ok. So hands up, I'm a Frag-head and a Snob (capital S). My collection includes some expensive niche brands, I'm a slave to discontinued Annick Goutal and L'Artisan, Uncle Serge is my hero, but this, this cheap celeb juice gets people every single time. I don't want to admit that one of my most complimented fragrances is bought for £9.99 (incl postage) from eBay - but it is. I don't want to admit that I cringe when people ask me what I'm wearing, and when I wear this they always ask, and then I have to say a celebrity name - but it is. I decant it so I don't have to carry the, frankly vile, bottle around. My boyfriend's friends ask me what I'm wearing and want to buy it for their girlfriends. Yes, it's a loose, modern Fracas, but what the heck! She's done a good job on this one has our Madge. It's sexy, floral, deeper than you'd expect, no hint of 'clean' (which is so popular these days), no sugary vanilla, and just enough musk on the dry down - it is, I'm embarrassed to admit, my go-to frag most days. And I have three, yep three, back up bottles in my collection. I guess the good thing about getting older is that you stop worrying about what other people think and just please yourself: I please myself, and others, by wearing this often. And for 10 quid, blind buy, what can go wrong?
07th November, 2014 (last edited: 28th November, 2014)
I caught the perfume bug very young, and White Shoulders and Fracas were two of my early favorites. Given all of that formative white floral precedent, Truth or Dare feels like an old friend to me, and I grabbed a big bottle when it first launched. I've grabbed yet more of them now that it can be found so inexpensively! I like its funny combination of excess and restraint - the florals are SO heady and opaque, and then the base is rather sheer, and stops short of being as thick and sweet and gooey as I'd thought it would get. Most people feel that Fracas is a better fragrance, though at this point, I don't. Maybe it's my memory, maybe it's the reformulation, but Fracas smells thin to me now. I prefer the happy, sweet voluptuousness of Truth or Dare.
Madonna's schtick has been to tie her name and brand to concepts that are just new enough to be recognizable and exciting, but unformed enough that she can take them without most people knowing that she didn’t invent them. She's not the spark of innovation, she's the gallon of gasoline poured on it.
Madonna flack would have you believe that Truth or Dare is a tribute to classical perfumery. All it took was one word: Fracas. Nest this word in the yarn about the perfume that Madonna's mother used to wear and the story just writes itself. It edifies Madonna's current reformulation as Contempo-Classic British Lady, and connotes a tasteful lineage.
Despite the attempt to link it to Fracas via the use of tuberose, Truth or Dare is an archetypal mall perfume, and its arc from Big Launch to Sephora’s Latest to Internet Bargain had to have been part of the strategy. Madonna aims high hoping that we won't notice the low quality. An appropriate frame of reference for what Truth or Dare might have been is Juicy Couture by Juicy Couture. Juicy Couture dazzles you with its spangle, makes you drop your expectations to the floor and then startles you with a gorgeous perfume. The horror here, and what should haunt perfume producers but apparently doesn't, is that quality come as a surprise.
Sadly, Truth or Dare doesn't surprise. At least not at first. A certain period of the heart notes has an eye-opening touch of Sécrétions Magnifiques. If this was intentional, bravo! But then again, the question: did Madge just 'appropriate' Sécrétions Magnifiques's polluted port-of-call note from Etat Libre d'Orange as she did voguing from the 1980s Harlem Ball culture?
Madonna: bandit or semantic genius?
15th December, 2013 (last edited: 19th June, 2014)
Tuberose by any other name...
If you're a dude who loves tuberose, but finds Fracas too stuffy and staid, thought Poision is too loud, or thinks that Tubereuse Criminelle is too medicinal, then this is your gem. I agree with most reviewers that this is a modern/lighter version of Fracas, which allows itself to drydown to a smooth creamy vanilla/amber tuberose. I hate gardenia, so thankfully I don't pick up on it too strongly on my skin from this - in fact, the tuberose and amber stand out most in my case. Definitely unisex, if you're already looking into this alley, such as the three others aforementioned. Sillage is extreme, with a strong 6 hours of outright projection and 10+ hours of longevity close to skin. If this sounds like your thing, get it now before Coty reformulate it to a candied floral. The ingredient quality (perfume listed as second on box) is too good to pass up.
Pros: Honest celebriscent, Quality ingredients, Great tuberose.
Cons: Cloying, Extreme longevity."
Take a Bow
Truth or Dare is better than I expected, much better. It has grown on me. Today I wore Fracas solid perfume (very subtle) behind the ears and on the wrist. If I were to apply Truth or Dare I would spray the small of my back only. I like the sparkling orange blossom in Truth or Dare. I guess that's the gardenia vying with the tuberose, the jasmine vying with the musk. And I like the bottle, it reminds me of the strings of milk glass beads, (Trifari, I think) bracelets and necklaces in my drawers that need restringing. I have tried this fragrance several times and dismissed it as being a Fracas imposter, but today with a direct comparison to Fracas I noticed the nuances and the sparkle and have reviewed accordingly.
Pros: You deserve an award for the role that you played
Cons: This masquerade is getting older
Wow, this one has generated some really long reviews here! l am not here to discuss the merits or otherwise of Madonna & her influence, but simply to describe how this fragrance smells to me.
l certainly do smell Fracas in this, albeit a lightened-up version with less complexity & less of the heavily buttery quality. Tuberose is the most prominent note to my nose, with jasmine close behind, & a creamy tiare gardenia in the heart. As it dries down, l sense a caramel-like, not-too-sweet vanilla, which takes over in the base after four-five hours. The sillage is good without becoming overpowering. l agree with another reviewer here that depending on how much you spray, this could work both for the office & on a night out.
l didn't get any leather, rubber or animalic notes from this. What l did get is a classic style of fragrance re-interpreted very successfully for the modern age, & one l would consider buying. lt's very high quality for a "celebuscent", & for such a low price point. As for the bottle, l neither love nor hate it, but as it's so narrow from front to back, it would be very easy to knock over!
Truth or Dare: Fragrance Review
Throughout Madonna’s 30+ year career, much has been accomplished. It is very likely that no other female artist will ever reach her level of success. With the undisputed title of being the ‘Queen of Pop’, she has often faced a lot of criticism, hatred, and immeasurable expectations from the masses. With each project she takes on, she aims to exceed all expectations. Granted, she is not perfect (no one is), but she is one of the hardest working women I’ve ever known to exist. She goes out and gets whatever she wants, and that I admire. In 1984 (while I was on Earth for only a year) when Dick Clark of American Bandstand asked her about her hopes and dreams for her career she said she wanted to rule the world, which she has done more than once.
Despite all of her achievements and ventures, there is one thing that has eluded her, and that is the world of fragrance. This arena is near and dear to her heart because this is one of the few memories she has of her mother as she passed when Madonna was very young. She has often stated that she remembers how her mother wore a scent that consisted of tuberose and gardenia, two white floral notes that leave a lasting impression on the senses.
Throughout her life she has reportedly worn various perfumes to remind her of her mother, have a piece of her with her always. Fragrances like Robert Piguet’s Fracas, Tubereuse of L’Artisan Parfumeur or even Tubereuse Indiana by Creed have all been a part of her adult life. Though they may remind her of what her mother once wore, they are not personal as the fragrance is not her own and certainly not her mother’s scent. Fragrance is special in that it can be a lot of different things, with memories being one in particular.
Madonna could have made a fragrance a long time ago. During the Blonde Ambition era or fast forward to the Ray of Light era, Madonna had the world in the palm of her hand. These (and many other times) were great periods for her to release a perfume. A lot of celebrities release fragrances that are devoid of substance. Rather than following the common path of many, Madonna chose to be patient and wait for the perfect time to create a fragrance of her own. As with anything she does, she had a hand in everything involving the creation of Truth or Dare, which was released in April 2012.
Being that I am the epitome of a Cancer, I am obsessed with fragrance, so I have a substantial collection. Once I discovered that Madonna’s fragrance was out, I began to read an assortment of reviews. As expected, a lot of reviews were about one’s personal feelings about Madonna the celebrity and not the fragrance; fascinating isn’t it? Though I am one of Madonna’s biggest fans, I wanted to be completely unbiased. I did not let my love and adoration for her influence my opinion. So now, on to my first experience with Truth or Dare, a perfume for women or men not bound by societal norms.
I decided to pick up a sample because I never buy a fragrance blindly. I feel that fragrance must be worn on your skin and settle for some time before you can truly invest in it as you may not like and thus have buyer’s remorse. Initially I sprayed my left wrist, requested a sample and headed home. While in my car, the fragrance enveloped me; it was as if I had sprayed much more than one part of my body. The fragrance comes off as being very feminine, intoxicating and smart.
It was immediately evident to me that the top notes had to be white flowers: you can pick up tuberose, a hint of neroli and gardenia. I personally love gardenia (Chantecaille’s Pétales is a personal favorite of mine), so this was a pleasure to pick up in this scent. At the same time I felt a blast of jasmine hit me in the proboscis. This is said to be a middle note, but it is very intense at the beginning. Though it is rather bold upon your first whiff, the other white flowers blend well to make it enjoyable. I have never been a huge fan of jasmine (which is why I cannot wear Tom Ford’s Jasmine Rouge), so this was very important to me. With the combination of these particular notes, I was immediately reminded of Thierry Mugler’s masterpiece Alien; you can think of Truth or Dare as similar but much more soft when it comes to the jasmine. They are still very different fragrances so you can rest any possible worries you may have.
As a few hours went by, the jasmine was still with me, feeling almost as if someone was spritzing it in the air amongst the other notes; it was so beautiful. You can also pick up benzoin and I wasn’t able to pick up the lily that is reported to be a part of the heart notes. What I found very interesting was as the jasmine started to get more intense on my skin, I smelled leather. I kept putting my wrist to my nose because I love the smell of leather (so naturally I like John Varvatos or even Dzing! By L’Artisan Parfumeur). A group of white flowers and benzoin lead me to smell leather; brilliant. Once I hit the five hour mark, the fragrance took me for another ride.
At this point, the volume was turned up; all the way up. Truth or Dare was leaning more towards dare; it was so sexy I would have done anything at that moment. With the smell of leather on me, I began to pick up an animalic hint of musk. I also picked up vanilla and caramel, two gorgeous gourmands. I discovered the amber is caramelized amber, which made it even better. I cannot truly put into words how hot it smelled so deep into having it on me. The caramelized amber made me want to take a bite out of my wrist and deal with the consequences later. No dare was required for it was my truth.
After approximately eight or nine hours, the jasmine calms, the other white flowers disappear, a smidge of benzoin is there and we are left with the base notes that linger; they come in waves of sorts. I continued to smell vanilla, amber and musk well into 14 hours of wearing this fragrance. It was like dessert; saving the best for last. I should also note that I actually took a shower and still could smell it on my wrist afterwards; I was very impressed.
Overall, I am very pleased with this fragrance
and do plan to buy it in the largest size offered. I am not one to purchase ancillaries so the fragrance itself will suffice. This fragrance has depth and dimension. It is very clear that Madonna put a lot into forming this fragrance. It is not a cliché celebrity fragrance that reeks of sugary sweet notes or poorly blended florals. I would also like to add that I did not smell Fracas in this fragrance; some notes perhaps but no, this is not Fracas; they are very different. This fragrance is more of a fall/winter scent in my mind, but due to its sex appeal, it could be worn any time you want to be romantic or simply have someone devour you. Kudos Madge. I highly recommend you give this one a try.
Cheap Fracas rip off by the Queen bitch herself. The perfumer, Stephen Nilsen, said she was the most difficult person to work with. Refused to remove her sunglasses indoors and demanded over 200 different attempts till she was satisfied.
OK, I have to come clean and say on trying the fragrance again at home the tuberose melted into a creamy floral sweetened woods. I now ADORE IT! I admit I was way off the mark! Been through 4 bottles already. The 'narcotic' description of this scent is very accurate. No matter how hard I tried to hate this, the expertise of Mr Nilsen shone through.
Madonna confirms that her perfume is indeed inspired by Robert Piguet Fracas at the Launch of this.
02nd May, 2012 (last edited: 09th May, 2013)
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 Nilsson, 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.
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.
Synthetic 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.
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.
When I told the sales associate at Macy’s that I had come for the Madonna perfume, she didn’t question for even a second the fact that I was a man or inquire whether I was buying it for a female relative. She knew it was for me and was totally unfazed, an indication that a lot of gay men must be buying Truth or Dare regardless (or perhaps because of) its Jungle Gardenia aspirations. The placement of the fragrance in the store could not have been an accident: it was not obviously situated at the men’s or women’s counters, but in between. Truth or Dare’s unisex intent is further established by its wonderful television ad that visually recalls Madonna’s “Erotica” phase (reviled at the time but now the hottest and most imitated aesthetic reference around) and the noticeable absence of the usually front-and-center gendered marketing terminology: the female announcer merely says, “Truth or Dare, the new fragrance by Madonna.” Not “perfume.” Not “for her.” Fragrance. Nor is it printed anywhere on the box that it is for women. Very clever.
To begin with, nothing you have heard about this fragrance is true, and the general puzzlement and overqualified, reluctant, tight-lipped simultaneous approval /condemnation of it in the perfume blogosphere reflects this. All the reviews thus far go something like this: the reviewer will begin with a disclaimer that she has “admittedly never been a huge fan of Madonna,” a sentiment that I hear every day from every single person every single time Madonna is mentioned that mysteriously belies that fact that Madonna’s tour dates sell out within seconds at astronomical prices and that she is still probably the most famous woman in the world. The reviewer will then marvel at how Madonna is so late to the celebrity fragrance game, insert an unfunny, irrelevant jab about her age, after which will be placed in block quotation the PR copy about the perfume. The reviewer will say that the fragrance smells surprisingly good, surprisingly “old lady” in that it has an extremely noticeable floral component, but will conclude that Truth or Dare is nothing to write home about because who has time for this when you can wear perennial snob favorite Carnal Flower or some other Edgy Cool Indie White Floral that’s not EMBARRASSING like the Madonna perfume! One reviewer cynically and prematurely bashes anyone who might be tempted to “applaud it simply because it is not a predictable cotton candy ditz department store fragrance.” All of this goes to show that Madonna is still a heated, relevant, and above all HIGHLY stigmatized cultural property, as much as she was in the 80’s and 90’s- everyone is fascinated with everything she does, and everyone is still too frightened to immediately embrace any of it until a few years have passed and a bolder critic has stated that it’s okay to like it.
I digress. Wait, no I don’t, because this is a celebrity perfume, and the public perception of the famous name affixed is as integral to the identity of the product as Bruce Weber’s cold, explicit images of Kate Moss were to Calvin Klein’s Obsession, or Victor Skrebneski’s spacious WASP mansion panoramas were to Estee Lauder . Any discussion of Truth or Dare must by necessity include a discussion of Madonna and the fragrance’s marketing. While Truth or Dare is stated to be retro tuberose gardenia floral—a tribute to Madonna’s mother’s unnamed signature scent assumed by everyone to be Fracas—it is in actuality an unexpected, complex, unusual, firmly unisex musk scent with floral, oriental, and gourmand elements in equal measure. It simply smells undeniably terrific: streamlined, sexy, sweet but not too sweet, floral but not too floral, rich but pleasantly cheap, but sniff closer and its shocking character is readily apparent: this is an indole, rubber, and musk fragrance! It is as if a creamy, proudly synthetic white floral accord that smells ambiguously of tuberose, gardenia, and jasmine is underlined by a fierce cocktail of every weird off note that goes along with those smells: big burnt rubber , big fecal indole (to rival Brent Leonesio’s Untitled #8). How is no one noticing how dirty this fragrance is? I have NEVER smelled such proudly displayed skank notes in any mid-range department store celebrity scent! Perhaps it is because the off notes are married so perfectly to a hippie-ish androgynous salty ambery oriental musk base with a beautifully executed burnt sugar note. Truth or Dare’s closest relatives are, I would say, Angel for its two-sided vulgar structure, Juicy Couture for its salty gourmand florals, and Jovan Musk for its loud, ungendered statement of cheap and fun sexuality.
Any complaints? It should probably be labeled an EDT rather than an EDP if only to encourage people to spray it on in great quantities. It is assertive but always pleasant and its ambery musk sticks around a shockingly long time. Depending on how much you wear, it can be a good-time clubbing scent or something more polite for the office. Totally versatile.
If it were approached without prior knowledge of the PR material or that it is endorsed by Madonna, Truth or Dare would undoubtedly be embraced for its originality, defiance of easy categorization, unisex potential, and unique, humorous bottle design that looks like nothing else currently in department stores except that wonderfully kitschy teal opaque Youth-Dew bottle. When was the last time I had this much FUN with a mainstream department store release? I love it to death.
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