One could be excused for getting all dreamy eyed and nostalgic à la Nuovo Cinema Paradiso upon watching the latest commercial by Dolce & Gabbana for their feminine fragrance launch, Dolce eau de parfum. They could be excused for erupting in twirly pirouettes filled with longing at the sight of the super pretty bottle, its flower cap, its grosgrain bow, its retro typeface. But what one can't possibly excuse is getting worked up over the fragrance of Dolce by Dolce & Gabbana itself, because, frankly, it's so programmatically "not"-so-many-things that it gets very hard to describe it.
It's not really floral, despite the ad copy and the images of orange groves in full bloom. Not indolic-smelling, which comes hand in hand with white flower fragrances. Not woody either. Nor citrusy. Not particularly feminine if your notion of femininity is not terribly challenged by a particular philosophic system of which I am not accountable for. Not anything special in the fresh fragrance slot. Not distinctive, not unique by any stretch of the imagination. Not offensive either, but that's damning it with faint praise.
"Neroli leaves" (come again?), papaya flower, white amaryllis, narcissus, white water lily, sandalwood. Where are all these things?
A clean, lightly aqueous neroli scent with a faint musky underpinning that won't get you noticed even if your life depended on it, Dolce eau de parfum projects "meh-shampoo" in a me-too-pool of similar scents for women afraid to use fragrance with any conviction. It could just be the perfect culmination of a product that looks like a perfume but doesn't perform like one for our crazy times. Even if destined to the very young or the very inexperienced, there is nothing in Dolce eau de parfum of the flush of daring and defiance that a truant teenager might indulge into, swiftly exchanging her smart pants and sweater for a cut off blouse and heels in secret at the ante-room of her house to go out with the hip crowd of her school. It's also so faint for an eau de parfum to make one seriously doubt their nose. If this gets released in eau de toilette there will be someone doing a cartoonish, evil laugh all the way to the bank, because they might as well be selling plain water for all the dilution.
So why am I even bothering to review it, you ask?
Simple. It's the first original release by the Italian brand that is not a flanker or re-issue in what feels like eons. I'm susceptible. I love Italian style.
Additionally, I can be excused for feeling a pang of what Swedes call 'smultronställe' , literally a wild strawberry patch, but figuratively a sentimentally laden spot returned to for solace, an escape from sadness. Sicily is Dolce & Gabbana's spot. My own smultronställe has been orange groves in full bloom from my childhood like the ones shown in the romantic commercial for Dolce eau de parfum. I might be excused for seeking them into a bottle of fragrance advertised with exactly those images in neorealist style and nostalgic color saturation…
A really wasted chance, if you ask me. Bring back Sicily.