October 21 2011
Lucia van der Post
Roja Dove, who spent many years with Guerlain, one of the world’s most respected perfume companies, and is the go-to man for anything you need to know on the scent front, recently decided that it was time he developed his own collection of special eaux. He has quietly always had a small range, but now he has decided that it is time to expand “brand Roja”. Available exclusively in Harrods, under the Roja Parfums label, are nine scents, six that he thinks of as feminine, two that are masculine and one, Aoud, that is designed to appeal to all who love this darkly moody and sensuous concoction (there’s rose and ylang-ylang, jasmine and geranium, bergamot and lots of woody notes, too many to list).
There are three florals in the range, all arriving on the counter at different times. Scandal, which is already on sale, is a big bouquet of white flowers based around tuberose. Reckless, also now launched, is an aldehydic floral, and Innuendo, which will be coming next spring, is a gentle floral with some violet to give it a powdery feel, as well as orris, jasmine and rose. Danger, which, with Aoud, is the newest arrival on the counter, is an oriental, with jasmine, lots of patchouli, sandalwood and musk; in its masculine incarnation, Danger Pour Homme, he adds more spices as well as galbanum to make it all warm and leathery.
Unspoken, meanwhile, is a chypre, based around oak moss, vetiver and sandalwood with a touch of vanilla and an enormous bouquet of jasmine. For Scandal Pour Homme, Dove takes the basic structure of the women’s fragrance but adds some citrus and herbal notes to make it fresher and brighter. “A typical alpha male’s scent,” says Dove, “will have bergamot and a lot of synthetic musks, woody notes and spices, but I never related to alpha males and I wanted to do something different.” So, although he has some bergamot and spices, it is the base notes of musk and ambergris that give it great depth.
Dove, of course, has an olfactory style that is all his own. He always uses jasmine from Grasse (which you may be interested to know costs between £32,000 and £34,000 for a kilo of the absolute essence), rose de Mai (also from Grasse and which takes more than 300,000 blooms to produce a single kilo of essence), bergamot from Calabria, and a little of either orange blossom or neroli (both of which come from orange flowers). Then he also always uses some vanilla, “because it gives richness and softness and it’s a mild psychogenic aphrodisiac”. He loves orris, which comes from the rhizome of the iris and takes six years to produce its oil, which costs three and a half times the price of gold bullion.
So his perfumes, you will have gathered, aren’t simple matters. They’re rich and complex and classically made, which helps account for the prices – all the fragrances for women come in 100ml of eau de parfum and are £175 each, while the parfum version comes in 50 ml bottles which sell for £295. The male fragrances come only as eau de parfum and 100ml costs £175. Finally Aoud is only available in a special 100ml parfum bottle and sells for £495. Dove is opening a perfumery in Lausanne in December and will sell his Roja Parfums in outlets in Paris, Abu Dhabi and Dubai. But for the moment in the UK you can only find them in Harrods’ black perfumery hall (where the entire counter is made of Lalique glass and where you will be able to smell each of his eaux on a perfumed porcelain rose) and Roja Dove’s own Haute Parfumerie on the fifth floor of Harrods.