Sunday, October 24, 2021

Dolce & Gabbana Femme (Red Cap): fragrance review & history research

Allegedly when Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana were in the search for their first foray into perfumes, they took mods developed for them and smashed them against their atelier wall to see what effect they'd produce. When a couple of them matched, elated, they exclaimed in unison "Eureka!" proclaiming Dolce & Gabbana for women their brain child. 

These Eureka moments are one too many in perfumery for them to be taken seriously. From the "accidental" drop of lots of vanillin into a bottle of Jicky (supposedly producing Shalimar) and the overdosage of aldehydes in the formula of Chanel No.5, the industry wants the public to believe that divine apocalypse is the medium in which true masterpieces are presented to the world, just like religion. Research nevertheless suggests otherwise.

The 1992 fragrance by the two Italian designers who celebrated the south of Italy and Sicily like no other before them is attributed to two perfumers from IFF: Jean-Pierre Mary and Martine Pallix. Between them, the olfactory duo have less than a dozen fragrances listed under their names, mostly from lesser olfactory prestige projects, such as Adidas.

Which begs the question: How could they have managed to strike gold so early, so surely and so lastingly? For many, nay, legions of people, Dolce & Gabbana from 1992 is still among the top aldehydic florals ever produced. I concur, and not because I lived through it. No. I knew it was good, even great, from smelling it on other women throughout the years, but Dolce & Gabbana "red cap", as it's affectionately known throughout the blogosphere and fora  (another term is Dolce & Gabbana Original), is one of those fragrances you need to own and wear frequently to truly understand just how great it is. And I only did this with 15 years in hindsight. Oh well...

Dolce & Gabbana pour femme ("red cap") feels sensuous and smooth, caressing, bold but not too attention-seeking; Its shade is elegant, not vulgar. It beckons you, like a strappy dress from the Italian fashion duo themselves.larger than life, massive almost in its plain confidence, in an Anna Magnani sort of way (an actress which the designer duo seem to love). It's bold, proud, full of oomph, of volume, and of emphasis, with lots of powerhouse florals (of which carnation is the most discernible), and a musky soapiness which makes the ginormous aldehydic introduction feel more decadent than it should be. It's soapy, but oh boy, if soapy was merely as intimate and erotic as this! It is not a fragrance for the timid, which makes it doubly bold, considering it circulated and succeeded in the 1990s, the decade of limp-wrist "waters" with lotus hints and sea algae undercurrents. A hint of apple-like marigold can't hide its exuberant nature, and both the tenacity and sillage of the original are impressive. The drydown is languorous, somnambulist, with the creamy softness of sandalwood and musks that lasts and lasts...It's round, effusive, contained, and yes, very sexy, indeed.

Case in point, its sexiness was encapsulated for eternity in a short film by Giussepe Tornatore, starring Monica Belluci and scored by Ennio Morricone. Talk about nailing it!


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