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Truth or Dare by MadonnaCarrie Cockburn / The Globe and Mail

The pop star took a long time to enter the celebrity-fragrance arena, where she pushes the envelope (yet again) with a borderline cloying juice that'll no doubt be a hit.

The scent

Truth or Dare by Madonna

The back story

Truth: This highly anticipated scent shares its name with the 1991 documentary profiling pop culture's best-known material girl. Dare: Madge has finally decided to enter into the celebrity-fragrance fray, making the stakes for the product high. (Reportedly, more than 200 samples were created before this potent floral gourmand blend made the cut.)

What it smells like

Truth: Madonna's starting point was her mother's fondness for gardenia and tuberose. Dare: While neroli and lily have also been added to the bouquet, it's the sticky, sweet hits of licorice-like benzoin and vanilla that give the fragrance its tingly thrill, just a wink shy of cloying.

The nose

Truth: New York-based Stephen Nilsen's repertoire includes Tom Ford's Moss Breches, With Love Hilary Duff, a couple of Tommy Hilfiger scents and a duo from Anthropologie. He gives credit to Madonna, insisting the star has a "great nose." Dare: Nilsen's not considered a blockbuster perfumer. "I think it was a little daunting, working with someone like Madonna," he admits in a phone interview. This is definitely his Like a Prayer moment.

The look

Truth: Fabian Baron, master of provocative packaging, is responsible for the "beaded" hexagonal white bottle and gold orb cap. It's just a pity that the bustier bottle belongs to Gaultier. Dare: Australian artist and skateboarder RJ Williams has claimed that the logo – an M intersected by a cross – too closely resembles his signature insignia.

The face

Truth: The never-aging star herself – who else! Dare: For some television networks, the commercial showing a lip-licking, writhing Madge was deemed too racy. According to an article in the New York Post, ABC requested various modifications, such as digitally increasing the coverage provided by her lingerie.

Who it's for

Truth: "Rather than age demographic, I definitely think it's for the person who appreciates quality and makes it [her]own," Nilsen says. "It's a great way of taking a classic floral and bringing it into the modern age – almost like a vintage piece of high fashion worn with H&M." Dare: It's still too borderline mass-market for niche-obsessed noses. You can take the star out of the pop but not the pop out of the star.

Cachet factor

Truth: Who isn't at least moderately curious? Dare: Can it achieve Sarah Jessica Parker/ Elizabeth Taylor/Beyoncé success? Me, I smell the olfactory equivalent of her hit Vogue, so go with the flow.

Where to buy it

The Bay, Sears, Sephora, Shoppers Drug Mart.


$65 for 50 ml, $75 for 75 ml.