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Madonna Talks Fashion and Fragrance

In a WWD exclusive, Madonna talks about her new scent, Truth or Dare, how much she enjoys talking to her fans, and more.

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Madonna Dolce & Gabbana Macys

Madonna in Dolce & Gabbana.

Photo By Steve Eichner

NEW YORK — She may be sporting Gaultier and Givenchy — as well as her first fine fragrance, Truth or Dare — on her upcoming tour, but Madonna hopes there’s one thing she won’t be wearing as she travels the globe to promote her new album: injuries.

The MDNA tour, in support of her 12th studio album — currently challenged in the charts — is requiring some physically intense moves. At Macy’s Herald Square on Thursday night, making an appearance in support of her scent, Madonna was nursing what she called “a big old cut” on her leg. Motioning to her black lace Dolce & Gabbana dress, she laughed, “I take these clothes off, and I’m covered in bruises. It’s very sexy.” Why? Wait and see, she said, but promised it will be intense.

The tour kicks off in Tel Aviv on May 20, wending its way around the Middle East and Europe before the first North American date, Aug. 28 in Philadelphia. South American dates are expected to be revealed soon. “It’s crunch time for me getting my show ready, so after this I have to go back to the dungeon,” she told WWD during an interview after the Macy’s appearance. “I call it the dungeon, where we work. In a room with no light. It’s kind of our factory, but I have a lot of work to do.”

RELATED STORY: Madonna Mayhem at Macy's >>

As for the show’s couture, “I worship and adore [Jean Paul Gaultier]. He’s creating one of my costumes, and kind of godfathering the costumes for a section of my show, with all my dancers. I’m really happy he’s doing it, because he’s such a genius. And I’ll probably wear something that Riccardo [Tisci] from Givenchy makes. But the rest of it is going to be what my costume designer Arianne Phillips creates with me.”

If her Super Bowl XLVI costumes — which included a glittery Egyptian caftan, fanciful Philip Treacy headpieces and a priest’s robes — are any barometer, those MDNA costumes will get people talking. Madonna called the Super Bowl show “one of my most favorite and most treasured performing experiences, for sure. That was amazing.” But next time she may opt for flats instead of heels: “The dance that LMFAO does, the shuffle, was really hard to do in heels. I have to say, I would prefer to do the shuffle in sneakers. If you want to drop it like it’s hot, it’s good to wear flats, because then your booty gets really close to the floor, but then there are things you can do in heels that you can’t do in sneakers.”

Madonna’s fingerprint goes on anything that bears her name. “I don’t take the job of creating anything — whether it’s fragrance, or beauty products, or clothes — lightly, and I need a lot of time to do stuff. I don’t like it when other people create for me.”

That was definitely true when it came to her debut scent.

“The time was right,” she said of partnering with Coty Prestige. “I’ve been working off and on on various fragrances over the years, and [have been] approached by a lot of companies and have tried to create fragrances. They were always abandoned projects. I’ve always loved perfume; it’s always been a big part of my life. But every time I tried to create the scent I was looking for, it never reached the stage where I thought it was good enough or I was told that the ingredients would be impossible to re-create in a mass way. Then I’d say, ‘let’s try and do a synthetic version,’ and it never smelled as good as I wanted it to. And if I’m not going to wear it, I’m not going to sell it. So, I finally was able to create, with my partners [MG Icon and Coty], a fragrance that I could stand behind. We tested a lot of things over the past few years, and [Lourdes “Lola” Leon, her 15-year-old daughter] has told me what she likes. She is a very opinionated young lady, and she likes this perfume.”

She had her late mother, also named Madonna, in mind when creating the scent, too. Her mother, she recalled, wore Fracas. “I wanted to create a fragrance that would remind me of her.”

She shrugged off the brewing controversy about the sexy TV campaign for Truth or Dare, a black-and-white spot that features her writhing in lingerie — and reportedly censored by ABC. “I don’t understand. It was perfectly innocent,” she said with an arch look. “I just touch my cleavage once or something. I think it’s dreamy and sensual, and I think it perfectly conveys the feeling I’m trying to evoke with the perfume. It’s a perfume for a woman.”

With her Material Girl line, also for Macy’s, Madonna has dabbled in body sprays and nail polishes, and would like to extend her Truth or Dare fragrance franchise with Coty Prestige into additional categories. But first up are lingerie and footwear under the Truth or Dare name: “Once again, time-consuming. I want it to be good. [More beauty categories are] something I’d like to develop, but I need to get past all of my other responsibilities and commitments like my tour. So, sometime in the future, yeah.”

She has a second fragrance, a companion to Truth or Dare, in the works; it is due out “sometime next year. I think it would be good to do a men’s fragrance, as well,” said Madonna. “My daughter thinks so. She wants to wear it. She likes to wear men’s cologne — don’t ask me why.” If she does do one, “I love musk and amber and woody kind of fragrances on men. I love the smell of whiskey — we should make a men’s cologne that smells like whiskey. I can’t drink it, it’s too strong, but it smells amazing — a really good old whiskey.”

Before heading upstairs to speak to WWD, Madonna answered a handful of preselected questions for the first 300 people who had purchased a $151 gift set of her new fragrance. “That was fun — I like talking to my fans,” she said later. “They’re real. I can play with them and have a laugh.”

And laugh she did at some of the queries, especially when one fan asked, “Are you planning on coming to a gay nightclub for this album?” Madonna shot back: “Are you inviting me? The thing is, I’m really busy rehearsing and I’m so tired at the end of every day that the only thing I could do would be to hang out. Would that be OK? Have a cocktail? Get a little tipsy?”

A Brazilian fan asked what Madonna would do if she could change the world. “Let’s start with the way everyone smells….That’s the frivolous answer. But if I could change the world? I would like to live in a world where there is no prejudice, where people have the freedom to be who they are, to believe what they want to believe in. That would be a good start.” An Israeli fan asked, “How was your seder?” Madonna, who practices Kabbalah and took the Jewish name Esther, answered, “Long.”

Yet another fan asked if she could sign his arm so he could get a tattoo. “Are you kidding me?” she asked. When he replied that he’d been a fan since 1982, she obliged. “He’s stuck with me forever.”

She also told the crowd she wants to learn to snowboard. “I learned to ski this year and that was the most thrilling experience, and my children got really good at snowboarding and I was really jealous of them, so that’s my next goal in life. I want to learn how to snowboard. I hope there are no paparazzi there to catch me falling on my ass every two seconds.”

A 12-year-old asked her what she’s afraid of. “Not being in control. Not knowing what lies ahead. And also, meeting people who are ignorant and prejudiced and judgmental.”

But the question she said she found the strangest was “What are you addicted to?” The crowd, as one, shouted, “LOVE!”

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