Meeting Madonna

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They say you should never meet your heroes. Well, sometimes they say wrong. For this writer, meeting Madonna last week in New York City, at the launch event for her debut fragrance Truth or Dare, was an unrivalled “pinch me” moment, in a 16-year travel retail career that has contained a whole host of amazing experiences. On no level did she disappoint.

Madonna mania in New York City

But first, I have to say that again. Last week I met Madonna. Sat down with her. Made eye contact. Asked her questions. Listened to her answers. Even now, as I play back the tape, it seems totally surreal.

I’m no stranger to the celeb interview, and generally I do my best not to come across as too star struck (although for obvious reasons, the bordering-on-illegally-hot Enrique Iglesias was a particular challenge). But Madonna is in another league. A true child of the 80s, I spent my teenage years yearning to be her. Who am I kidding? Scrub the past tense, I STILL want to be her.

Proof of an unrivalled “pinch me” work moment

It’s become fashionable in certain quarters to sneer, but Madonna is unquestionably the real deal. An intelligent, consummate professional who has always known what she wanted – and how to get it. She has blazed more trails than a sky full of meteors. She is the world’s top-selling female artist of all time. She was named one of the “25 Most Powerful Women of the Past Century” by Time magazine. Today Madonna straddles the worlds of music, dance, fashion, film, books and above all, business. And together with Coty, she is now bottling her Blond Ambition to become a beauty maven too. Respect where it’s due.

Yes, she looked amazing. Yes, she handled herself – and the crowd – amazingly. After running the gauntlet of the red carpet outside Macy’s (where her scent made its debut) Madonna bantered masterfully with around 300 fans during a consumer Q&A session. She autographed an arm, gave an impromptu rendition of I Love New York and answered a range of pretty prying questions with wit and aplomb.

In the press interview that followed, Madonna was courteous, informed, articulate and entertaining. She spoke knowledgeably about the fragrance creative process and explained exactly why Truth or Dare smells the way it does.

Madonna works it in black lace and lycra…

…as does The Moodie Report’s Rebecca Mann.

In line with its concept, I will screw my courage to the sticking place and say it’s not my favourite scent (I’m just not a fan of gardenias). But what I do love is the fact that this is such a bold, distinctive juice. It is, much like its creator, polarising. You will love it or hate it but you certainly can’t ignore it. In an industry where so many bland, unforgettable, calculatingly commercial juices blend into one, Truth or Dare is refreshingly different. As Coty has freely admitted, that will probably cost it sales in certain markets such as Japan, where strong scents tend not to be so popular. But it has deemed that potential sacrifice worthwhile, in the interests of integrity.

As a group, Coty prides itself on the authenticity of its products, of capturing the unique DNA of its various brands. In the words of Markus Stauss last year: “We don’t just buy the name and cut and run.”

Truth or Dare, in its entirety, is Madonna, bottled. And if the initial results at Macy’s (where last week the fragrance was its top-selling scent) are any indication, in many markets, that feat will reap handsome rewards.

Madonna’s fans are legion – and they are loyal. As Coty’s Stauss sums up so succinctly: “We will be happy if everyone who is a fan of Madonna buys the fragrance.” Because believe me, that would be an awful lot of Truth or Dare.

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