The sexy and flamboyant Italian luxury fashion brand founded by Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana in the 1980s needs no introduction.
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Since the launch of their debut scent in 1992, they’ve also become a major player in the designer fragrance biz, with best-selling franchises such as Light Blue and The One. Many of their releases are inspired by Sicily, where Domenico Dolce was born, and the Mediterranean lifestyle.
Where known, the name of the perfumer is included in brackets after the name of the fragrance.
Our Shortlist of Dolce and Gabbana Perfumes
Perfumers: Jean-Pierre Mary and Marine Pallix
The brand’s fine debut release in 1992 is often overlooked due to the marketing focus on its more lucrative ranges. It will surprise you with its elegant complexity.
The opening bursts with fresh notes of citrus (bitter orange, bergamot) and aromatic basil.
There’s no mistaking the presence of aldehydes, which elevate the florals carnation, marigold, orange blossom, lily-of-the-valley with dramatic effect. This Dolce and Gabbana perfume is a bouquet softly spiced with coriander.
The drydown is creamy, with discernible notes of sandalwood, vanilla, and tonka given earthy patchouli depth. Fantastica!
Perfumer: Olivier Cresp
This 2001 release is easily one of the most popular fragrances of the last few decades, assisted no doubt by the provocative advertising featuring Bianca Balti and David Gandy.
Loved and loathed in equal measure, it’s a modern classic that was inducted into The Fragrance Foundation’s Hall of Fame in 2016. For those who don’t know it, or need a reminder, the EDT’s opening is all about the vibrancy of notes of Sicilian lemon, cedar, and apple.
Woody wafts of bamboo mingle with mellow notes of jasmine and white rose, settling on a base featuring the distinctive freshness of citron wood.
Looking for the same summer holiday-in-the-south-of-Italy feel with less citrus and more florals? Then you can’t go wrong with the 2017 version, Light Blue Eau Intense EDP, also created by master perfumer Olivier Cresp.
Perfumer: Nathalie Lorson
Not to be confused with the relaunched 2018 version, the 2003 original epitomizes all that is best about the Italian island: sunshine and sensuality. Much to the disappointment of its many fans it was discontinued, but it’s well worth sniffing out on the internet.
Perhaps due to the presence of soapy aldehydes in the opening, it has a mature (we prefer to say grown-up) feel. They give the abundance of sweet white florals – including honeysuckle, orange blossom, and jasmine -extra zing. There are also green and powdery aspects, courtesy of notes of hyacinth and rose respectively. The oriental character continues to the drydown, where the creaminess of sandalwood is mixed with the vanilla-ish overtones of heliotrope.
Perfumer: Christine Nagel
Launched in 2006, it’s been a huge hit for the Italian fashion brand. Not surprising, as it was created by Christine Nagel, now an in-house perfumer at Hermes.
The intro features powdery peach and tropical litchi aplenty, complemented by the sunny citrus of mandarin orange and bergamot in the background. Luxurious lily then makes an appearance, with support from jasmine and lily-of-the-valley. The mood is fresh and sweet. The sophisticated sweetness is maintained through to the base – a combo of vanilla and amber creates appealing sensual warmth.
This big, attention-seeking fragrance is proof that popularity needn’t be a bad thing.
Perfumer: Nathalie Lorson
The D&G Anthology range ran from 2009 to 2012, but was discontinued. Its most popular release, L’Imperatrice 3, was resurrected in 2020 as L’Imperatrice.
We like this limited edition (created by the same perfumer), but 2009 original gets our vote. The opening plays with delicious contrasts of sweet and sour with its notes of kiwi and rhubarb.
There’s lots of freshness after that, courtesy of notes of aquatic watermelon, sweet jasmine, and soft cyclamen. The base of sandalwood and white musk gives depth to this equivalent of a tropical summer in a bottle.
Perfumers: Jean-Pierre Mary and Marine Pallix
The debut from 1992 was reinterpreted in 2012 to reflect the evolution of the design duo and, of course, changing tastes. The sweet fruit of raspberry blends with the citrus of neroli and green mandarin in the opening.
They’re followed by the fresh white florals of orange blossom and jasmine. The sweetness increases with a large helping of marshmallow and vanilla as the fragrance dries down, while sandalwood brings smooth creaminess.
To compete with niche perfumes and bring an element of exclusivity to their offering, many designer brands have private collections. Dolce and Gabbana launched their Velvet range in 2011 and this 2015 release is a great example of its quality.
From the fresh citrus opening notes of mandarin, bergamot, and neroli, made from the best oils, you’ll be immersed in a Mediterranean spring. The same attention to detail is evident in the use of absolute from hand-picked mimosa blossoms, its powdery and green characteristics to the fore. Notes of narcissus and violet leaf complete the package of natural-smelling opulence.
Launched in 2018, The Only One is a gourmand interpretation of the original The One.
The opening features pleasing contrasts of powdery violet and crisp bergamot. There’s more powderiness in the form of iris. Sweetened with a big dose of coffee, it’s caramel-icious, without overdoing the candy vibe. Notes of pear and orange blossom add to the sweetness. The vanilla in the dry down is smooth stuff and is given more warmth by the patchouli.
In an increasingly busy gourmand category, this EDP gets the balance between sweet and refined just right. And makes a powerful statement at the same time.
Perfumer: Marie Salamagne
The Dolce range was launched in 2014 and this 2020 release is one of our favourites from it.
Taking its inspiration from the gardens on the Amalfi Coast, it’s one of the better designer fruity florals we’ve smelled in recent years.
Although sweet from the start, thanks to its juicy mango note, it’s balanced with tart notes of grapefruit and quince. It’s then the turn of sunny white florals such as jasmine and orange blossom, while an ozonic-salty accord helps create a liberating outdoor ambience. With notes of musk and Australian sandalwood, the drydown is creamy and clean. Uplifting and youthful stuff!
Perfumer: Violaine Collas
This 2020 release expands on the success of The One and is sufficiently different to warrant your attention and hard-earned cash.
It’s sunny and fresh from the get-go, with notes of Italian mandarin, neroli and apple. There’s then a big dose of coconut. Fortunately, it’s the luxurious version and not the cheap ‘n tacky sun protection one. It’s supported by warm floral notes of orange blossom and jasmine. The drydown develops the creaminess of the coconut, with smooth vanilla and musky cashmeran in play.
Unashamedly loud and proud, this floriental would be the perfect accompaniment to your glam ensemble of big sunglasses and red lipstick.
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Richard Goller is a fragrance and grooming blogger. His blog is called Fragroom. A senior editor with 20 years' experience, his blog allows him to combine two of his passions: engaging content and the always-intriguing world of fragrances. When he isn't blogging, you'll find Richard indulging in his newly found passion for balcony gardening.