Dolce & Gabbana (Dolce & Gabbana)

For a good stretch of the mid-1990s, I lived in a North Jersey commuter enclave that was bisected into two economic zones: upper (where I worked) and lower (where I lived). A railroad line to Manhattan served as the physical and psychological dividing line between the classes... but an invisible fog of Dolce & Gabbana daily broke down the sociopolitical wall.

Created to capture (or possibly to parody) the "ironical and somewhat solemn tone of haute couture", D&G did so much more: it overturned utterly the concept of using a fragrance to broadcast one's position in the social strata. I could never quite tell to whom -- upper, lower, or middle -- D&G ought to belong, because it seemingly belonged to everybody. Junior Leaguers, status-conscious yuppies, tired DMV clerks and lady bus drivers, gum-cracking supermarket checkout girls, subway train conductors, artsy boho housewives-in-disguise-- we all subscribed to its democratic, leveling love.

For those nervous about stepping outside the tried-and-true classics test-driven by their mothers and grandmothers, D&G offered all the powdery carnations and hairspray aldehydes a woman could want... only packaged in a new-and-now skyscraper bottle, emblazoned with an indisputably chi-chi brand name. Here was reassurance on every front. We could all be with-it, ultramodern, on-trend-- AND smell vaguely familiar and comforting, both to ourselves and to each other.

You may laugh now, looking back... but when everyone was wearing it, everyone was a winner. Straight up.

Scent Elements: The Dolce & Gabbana website lists jasmine absolute, "black pearl rose", hibiscus, freesia, aldehydes, orange blossom, jasmine, lily-of-the-valley, sweet basil, Sicilian bergamot, mandarin, honeysuckle, heliotrope, sandalwood, vanilla, and musk. Basenotes adds petitgrain, ivy, freesia, rose, red carnation, coriander, marigold, and tonka.