I’ve had good luck with fragrances from Dolce & Gabbana, including another favorite, L’Imperatrice, which is a delightful, rhubarb-forward, warm weather scent I discovered a couple of years ago in a TJMaxx, of all places. The One was released in 2006, the imagination of Swiss perfumer Christine Nagel.
The Fragrance: There are a lot of fragrances that seem to try and be something extreme, extremely evocative, or deep down some path toward super-floral or super-fruity. Perhaps the very idea of “The One” perfume– (One Perfume To Rule Them All?)- is channeled by the careful balance in this fragrance, also evoked by the simple, clean shape of the bottle. It’s a mixture of musky vanilla and tropical, fruity top notes, with a well-rounded, white floral finish that is apparent in the drydown. It’s got a pleasant, moderate sillage, but is fairly long-lasting, which is nice for everyday wear, but the musky base notes make it also pleasant for a more intimate setting. Combined with the more stereotypically masculine vetiver base note, I don’t know that there’s anything about this fragrance that suggests that it’s an exclusively feminine fragrance, as it’s usually marketed.
The Chemistry: For some time, I found myself avoiding vanilla fragrances, because they always called to mind the overpowering scents of cheap, paraben-laden lotions that you could buy at the mall at the likes of Bath and Body Works— so it’s been fun to discover the scent in perfume. It’s also interesting as vanilla has a lot of analogues and close chemical cousins in the fragrance world, and it’s sometimes hard to discern whether we’re smelling “real” vanilla, vanilla-adjacent compounds that still smell like real vanilla, or something else entirely that is just evocative of vanilla.
The Market: The Swiss perfumer, the Italian fashion house, and a Japanese manufacturer highlight the truly global nature of the fragrance market: Dolce & Gabbana’s fragrances are actually white-labelled by Shiseido, a cosmetics giant that is celebrating its sesquicentennial this year. Of course, the contemporary fragrance market also exists in a frustratingly illegible soup of products that share the same name but are ultimately completely different.
Did you want “The One,” a “fragrance for women,” whatever the hell that means? Or how about “The One – For Men?” Men, or for gentlemen? How about The One Grey? Intense? Like, seriously, people, get over yourselves. The fragrances in these families are often so completely unrelated to one another that it just seems like a kind of desperate attempt to diversify a product line that, to deploy a grammatical quirk of my homeland, doesn’t need diversified. It’s also ever nicer that you can pick up a new bottle of this 16-year old fragrance for cheaper than whatever the trendiest perfume by D&G is these days.
Anyway, it’s a great fragrance, although it’s probably not going to make its way into my pantheon because it has a fairly weak sillage, pleasant though it is. I tried this one out at around the same time I also tried the New Bond St. and Avant L’Orage and I found both of them to have far stronger sillage and maintain their more complex notes for a longer time. After a few hours of wear, it’s hard to detect as much of the floral or fruity notes, and you’re left with just the base notes of musky vanilla.
Check it out at Amazon, and note the distinction between The One, The Only One, The Grey One– which is, ya know, about a third of the total perfumes in this line, all of which smell completely different. (★★★★) (Reviewed April 10, 2022)