A Love Pean to Sicily, Mostly
“The nobility of the soul, the elegance of every day gestures, the joy of sharing from generation to generation, and the effortless perfection of a single white flower. This is the picture of Sicily that I carry within me, and the one captured in this delicate fragrance,” says Domenico Dolce.
“Dolce is a contemporary fragrance inspired by a memory. The originality is not just in the way it was created, using traditional essences and other brand-new ingredients, but also because it is the translation into fragrance of a young new love that will, by virtue of its innocence, retain its youthful vitality,” adds Stefano Gabbana...
The top notes remind you fleetingly that Light Blue is a Dolce & Gabbana bestseller - you find this crisp apple signature impression, even if very subdued. There is one material in the perfume which is a bit flat - a synthetic peach nuance reminiscent of Mitsouko when it was ailing due to a lack of natural moss.
The freshness of the scent is allied with a more cottony impression of white vanilla. It's a citrusy-musky abstract floral with streaks of sappy green: neroli leaves. The scent is young and fresh suggesting lightness of mood, more than anything else at first. The lemony line of thought prolongs itself into a musky, and yes, uriney range of sensations, the high-pitched notes of the first crossing into the slightly strident animality of the latter without a pause as if it were a natural thing to do.
There is real-world affinity between lemon and saltiness. For instance, a gustatory trick you can use is replacing salt with lemon juice to create the illusion that a dish is saltier than it is in reality.
There is also a natural affinity between sweat and salt; it is perhaps through this mediation that the perfume manages to draw a citrusy-to-salty-musky arc. Once you pay attention to this olfactory bridge, you may even start salivating, which according to the scientific definition of a "gourmand perfume" privileged by perfumers and experts Maurice Maurin, Jean-François Blayn and Martine Leyris in Le dictionnaire du langage parfumé is the sure sign you are inhaling a gustatory opus: the Pavlovian reflex.
As Dolce develops, it, to some extent, belies its name. There are half-hidden hard, crisp fulgurances. Underneath the coat of vanilla, there are sharp nuances, like blades of grass ready to cut.
Without wanting to put too much stress on those undercover flashes of olfactory violence, it is hard not to make a parallel with Sicilian mores, the ethos of which is underlined in the advertizing campaign.
Dolce even before you could smell it had drummed up a following thanks to a commercial shot like a feature movie trailer. Inspired by the deep romantic vision of Sicily developed by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa in his historical novel il Gattopardo then transcribed onto silver screen by Luchino Visconti in the eponymous movie, the "trailer" by Giuseppe Tornatore showcases a pure, digitally-enhanced vision of Sicily; dialect was preferred over Italian. The feminine protagonist is meant to portray "a modern-day Angelica – Claudia Cardinale woken from sleep, pure, natural and still dressed in her white petticoat."
A young woman whose appearance is virginal crosses a lemon orchard in Sicily, the home country of Domenico Dolce who was born near Palermo, in Polizzi Generosa. A young man sees her from afar. He starts courting her with a smile. Then, inspired, he sends a little girl to run an amorous errand for him giving her a sprig of lemon blossoms. The little girl already brought up to be dignified turns to a little boy to ask him to run the errand for the young man. The young woman - played by 20 year old Canadian model Kate King - picks and smells the flowers. A sensual exchange ensues which is mediated by the scent of the flower and the innocence of children. In an honor-based society like the Sicilian one, you need to follow iron-clad social rules yet underneath it all, there is passion ready to be ignited.
Dolce is deceptively demure and soft thanks to its vanilla note in particular while at the same time harboring hidden sensuality. It is not the fire under the ice but rather the bitterness of herbs and the hardness of stony Sicilian soil undeneath the fruitiness, and the sensuality of sweat underneath the freshness of hesperides. It is also a rather conventional fragrance. A realistic judgement on it would be that most of the budget went into filmaking and bottlemaking - the floral topper is an homage to the Marzipan tradition in Sicilian confectionary.
The fragrance is not completely inane but it is not the lush white floral promised beforehand. Or maybe you need to wear it in the southern Italian province's hot climate to make it bloom most.The composition is supposed to center on a headspace accord of White Amaryllis captured in the Fynbos region of South Africa, where it is particularly odoriferous. Papaya blossoms were also imitated. The resolution is soft and pleasant - you will not get a sense that this is a rare composition despite the effort at featuring lesser-known florals.
Perhaps what Dolce succeeds most at is at offering a vignette of Sicilian life and customs, a thematic which is fundamental to Italian designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, notwithstanding the fact that the latter hails from Milan. On a more olfactory plane, the perfume does not impress, yet it may succeed in creating a certain demure mood in its wearer. If anything else is happening, it would be in the sillage. At times, it feels like Dolce comes back to you with an interesting personality, but it is never assertive enough to make you cast all doubts aside.
Top notes: Neroli leaves, Papaya flower
heart notes: White Amaryllis, White Daffodil, White Water Lily
Dry down notes: Cashmeran, Musky notes, Sandalwood