Dolce and Gabbana have the distinction of producing one of the most consistently popular perfumes of Gen X, namely, Light Blue. Curiously, it is often not discussed on perfume fora. Why? It’s hard to say, but D&G perfumes have never been considered particularly innovative or interesting, as opposed to those of, say, Prada, or even Donna Karan.
They are, however, popular mainstream perfumes and in wide distribution, so when I first smelled The One at Nordstrom’s, it put me in mind of a perfume from long ago that I knew well, namely, Jacques Fath’s Expression, which was in its day also mainstream. There were of course some distinct differences as well. They were not twins, not even siblings, but they could have been cousins, once removed, let us say.
Expression, if you have never come across it, was a release from the mid 1970’s and one of my first perfumes. Less well known than other releases from Jacques Fath, like Fath de Fath or Green Water, both hits for the house, particularly the latter, Expression was the house oriental before Fath de Fath was re re-orchestrated. But the structure of The One as a floral oriental was distinctly familiar to my nose. The One was like Expression, which was itself similar to Guerlain’s Vol de Nuit. Expression and Vol de Nuit were orientals, but take away a lily note or so from The One, and an oriental is what you would have.
Vol de Nuit is odd to begin with because of the paucity of florals in its arsenal. Putatively a feminine, Vol has two, count ’em, two florals listed. Expression was similarly sparse in the bouquet department- the sole floral I saw was ylang ylang. To be more precise the only notes I’ve ever found for Expression included mandarin orange and ylang-ylang, over a heart of patchouli, vetiver and coriander, and that in turn rotated slowly on a Sherman tank of an amber oakmoss base.*
To call Expression slow moving was to suggest a bit of unwarranted hurry up. It took all day to evaporate from your wrist.
The One borrowed the same basic idea of the woody oriental but made it floral by expanding the heart notes to include jasmine and lily of the valley to its otherwise Spartan choice of lily, and it also added a fruit note, plum, to the proceedings. The dry down is conventionally oriental once again, vetiver, musk, amber (a lot of amber) and vanilla. The One does not take all day to evaporate. It is a modern, parsimoniously dosed perfume, long on packaging, but short on longevity. Still, what I could smell of the formula suggested a similar kind of pattern to my old friend Expression. I wore the One around all day, re- applying periodically- and it retained the somber amber ending I recall from Expression, and although the experience was not parallel, still, it made me feel good that an old and handsome structure had re-appeared in perfumery.
But then somehow or other the best structures do re-appear, wait long enough and your old favorite will be back, just in another incarnation, you’ll still recognize it. You always do.
*All of this suggests that all three of these perfumes would wear perfectly well on males.