Roja Dove has one of the most highly regarded noses in the world. He makes some of the world’s most refined and sought-after fragrances as well as exquisitely scented and highly-priced candles.
One of his 300g, 60-hour minimum burn candles costs around $150. The lids are dipped in 18ct gold. Roja Parfums is known as the world’s most luxurious fragrance house due to its use of the finest quality ingredients as well as its packaging and 24-carat gold coated caps.
“When I started traveling internationally, the very first store I visited was Bergdorf Goodman. When creating Bergdorf and Goodman’s, I thought of the clients I meet here. When I think of Bergdorf, the women that shop here are some of the smartest women in the world, they are very, very feminine, and self-confident, and for that creation, I used gardenia around a lot of very soft and warm materials. For Goodman’s, I thought brisk, bright, dynamic, and self-assured, so I mixed spices and citrus materials in a bed of woods. I think both scents embody everything Bergdorf Goodman stands for.”
Says Dove about his New York Chypeie scented candle: “Perfume is all about dreaming and nowhere captures the imagination as much as the city that never sleeps. This is my homage to the New York rhythm of life – the heartbeat within the world’s most iconic skyline. Encased by the glamour of Art Deco designs and the buzzing electricity of a fast-paced world – an escape can be found within Central Park, where dynamic woods mingle with a sweet floral – a refreshing oasis from the madness.”
Created exclusively for Manhattan’s leading luxury destination, on 5th Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman Dove says it is “ascent of unapologetic elegance where a rich bouquet, with notes of gardenia and mayflower, nestle on a base of oakmoss and vanilla.” –
According to the famous British “Nose” – “A fresh burst of citrus bergamot is sublimated by a rich bouquet of orange blossom, jasmine, tuberose, heliotrope, and violet, warmed by patchouli, sandalwood, and cedarwood, on a soft, sensual base of benzoin, styrax, frankincense, and musk and the whole made lively by the inclusion of pink pepper. He is equally lyrical about his “Oceania.”
Roja Dove – born Roger Bird in Sussex, south England – worked twenty years for “Guerlain.” becoming the in-house “Professor du Parfum.” The childhood smells of his mother baking with cinnamon, and the smell of her face powder plus a visit to Guerlain’s boutique in the Champs-Elysee led him to drop out of Cambridge University where he was studying medicine. To pursue the education of his nose.
“It takes eight years for a surgeon to qualify. Much longer for a perfumer,” says 63-year-old Roja, who claims he can identify over eight hundred scents blindfolded. Roja has a vast collection of perfume bottles, including Lalique’s first and Jean Palou’s “Normandie.” He describes himself as a “fragrance historian” and lectures regularly around the world.
He takes his nose very seriously. And one nostril especially. He thinks the left one the more hyper-sensitive of the two. “The sense of smell is so animalistic. I cannot travel on the Underground. Or Metro. The Tube is horrible for me. It is like listening to 10,000 pieces of music at one time!”
In 2004 the “Roja Dove Haute Parfumerie” opened on the fifth floor of Harrod’s department store in London. Inspired by great perfumes like Dior’s “Diorama,” “Ombre Rose” from Jean-Charles Brosseau, and “Quelques Fleurs” by Houblagant, he started making his own. It offers odor profiling services to help you find or even build the rights cent for you.
In 2010 he created “Diaghilev” for the Victoria & Albert Museum’s exhibition. Subsequently, he created perfumes for Downing Street, Chatsworth House, Buckingham Palace, and the Kremlin. Facing competition by what he calls “the detergent manufactures,” his eponymous line now has nearly forty perfumes, including “Enslaved” and “Unspoken.”
He has been responsible for much “Danger,” “Mischief,” and “Scandal.” He says he always starts with a word. Like “Innuendo.” Or “Risque.” And then defines it with scents.
Roja believes Perfume makes people “infinitely happier.” And that “fragrance is kind to everybody.” The UAE-inspired “Amber Aoud” is a best-seller.
“My Imperial Collection doesn’t celebrate Empires. It celebrates the creativity found within them. Sometimes this can be in the form of creative figures such as the Russian genius Diaghilev or the Chinese mythological goddess NüWa who created civilization and taught the arts.”
He believes that when people buy scent, they are purchasing a reflection of a lifestyle.
“If most people are trying to find a scent for their ego, I’m trying to make a scent for the id. I want to make them think about things—memories of people and places—that they smell will recall and evoke.”
Every Perfume is made in his home and then sent for compounding to Grasse in the south of France. The silk used in the packaging comes from China. As well as a unique perfume for “Harrod’s,” he created “Brittania.”
“As a nation, we have always been explorers and so have always discovered things from all around the world and brought them back. That is what is interesting about my culture. If you look at our history, we have always embraced things from other worlds. This gives Britain its great diversity. With “Britannia,” I chose materials that personify ‘Britishness’ and composed a perfume using the materials that make up the fabric of my country.”
“I’ve have chosen materials from the four corners of the Earth and worked them into something new, and to me, that is precisely what defines the British way. Britain has always embraced things from the outside and looked at how we can use fresh discoveries to create something new. Something which is ours. The Perfume, I hope, is the celebration and acceptance of international influence.
“The Perfume is an ode to British gardens using champaca, jasmine, and heliotrope. But Britain also has a huge love of chocolate, son I have added vanilla and cacao. Ambergris is a legendary symbol of wealth and status. Beloved by the aristocracy, it would never have been available to us had we not become a seafaring nation. Smells reveal associations.”
Dove believes that there is a true scent for everyone. Like, true love. “Many of us are never lucky enough to find it. But isn’t it fun to flirt, though? Scents are like love affairs. You only know whether it works when you have spent the night together!”
Distilling a unique, tailor-made scent for a client can take anything from six months to two years and costs around £25,000 for a 500ml bottle. “It’s the ultimate luxury,” adds Dove. “It is like having a famous author create a novel just for you. You are distilling a personality into a bottle.”
Dove loves Dior Eau Sauvage, and the discontinued the Balenciaga Eau de Lavande. “Elysium Pour Homme” is a new fragrance. “In Greek mythology, Elysium was the paradise for heroes. I wanted to play on the idea of pulling your nose up somewhere very high to remove you from Earth. There are traditionally masculine materials – vetiver, cedarwood, and leather – but also a lovely lime note, a grapefruit note, lavender, and musk, which has been specially designed to work as a top note.
Dove is proud of his candle range. These include Essence of Fortnum and Mason and New York which he deconstructs as “Lime and litsea cubeba add their dynamic freshness to a bouquet of cyclamen, rose, jasmine, lilac, and cherry blossom, further sweetened by an almond accord, sublimated by the warmth of Casimir and other wood notes, vetiver, linden, cinnamon, and clove, with whispers of sensual musk.”
He believes one should be found somewhere in every house. He also has ideas where people should put his perfumes. “I think a bicep is also an excellent place for it and the last place to put a little bit is in the clavicle.
“When when you bend forward and come back up, you’ll get a little puff of air up your nose. Every time your head will be an occasion for you and everyone around you! The carotid artery is there, so the warmth of being near a vein gives the scent a lift. Traditionally men would never put scent on the body, just on their handkerchiefs. I say anywhere but the back of the neck or behind the ear. Sebum adversely affects Perfume!”