Fra­grance Mak­ers

On dar­ing, and the scent of ten­der­ness

World Travel Magazine - - Contents - By Laura El­liott

Dar­ing Roja Dove talks fra­grant, lux­ury travel and ol­fac­tive per­fec­tion.

He­had me at ol­fac­tive per­fec­tion. I have a se­ri­ous per­fume prob­lem. It’s not 12-step bad, but close. So when the only man in the world able to dis­cern 800 dif­fer­ent fra­grances agreed to share his in­spi­ra­tions, I had no idea where it would lead. Es­pe­cially that his jour­ney would be­gin in his mother’s arms with the scent of ten­der­ness.

Can you share what in­spired the jour­ney of dis­cov­er­ing your own per­sonal scent?

It came about in a very nat­u­ral way. There are those that change their scent ev­ery day and those that stay com­mit­ted to one for years or even decades. I am the lat­ter. Af­ter I had ex­per­i­mented with fra­grance while grow­ing up and dis­cov­er­ing the in­dus­try––as well as my per­sonal style––i ended up wear­ing Mit­souko from Guerlain for 30 years. I ab­so­lutely adored it––it was me. Then one day, the for­mula had changed and it just wasn’t the same. Even­tu­ally, I just made some­thing for my­self and have re­mained com­mit­ted to that scent since.

How did this dis­cov­ery change your life?

I was in­cred­i­bly lucky in that I had the ca­pa­bil­i­ties to cre­ate a scent for my­self. I worked on it for a while, us­ing all the ma­te­ri­als I loved the most and was able to cre­ate some­thing that to my tastes was the ul­ti­mate in ol­fac­tive per­fec­tion. It goes sim­ply by the name ROJA and in­cludes a lit­tle lux­ury mixed with a lit­tle sense of hu­mour, as the gold float­ing in the for­mula is ac­tu­ally a cheeky nod to the qual­ity of the raw ma­te­ri­als that make up the scent. The gold is the cheap­est in­gre­di­ent in the liq­uid. Af­ter years of peo­ple ask­ing me what I wear and where they can get it, I was con­vinced by my Busi­ness Part­ner to re­lease a small quan­tity of it to the world. It is touch­ing that peo­ple re­spond well to my own per­sonal smell.

While grow­ing up, did your mom wear per­fume? Where did your love of scent come from?

With­out any ques­tion, my ear­li­est me­mory of an odour is the scent of face pow­der and per­fume. When I was a small boy, around six or seven, my mother was dressed up to go out to a cock­tail party. My or­di­nary mother was trans­formed by her gold lamé dress and the scent of her per­fume and when she gave me a kiss good­night, it was the first time I had stopped to think about smell and as­so­ci­a­tion. It was a very soft, pow­dery smell that seemed to be the mi­cro en­cap­su­la­tion of fem­i­nin­ity. It was the scent of ten­der­ness. The good­night kiss she gave me left me spell­bound and put me on this path that I was des­tined to walk as a Per­fumer.

When I take big trips, I pick a per­fume at Duty-free to take with me to wear on my trav­els and when I re­turn home it serves as a joy­ful re­minder of my ex­pe­ri­ences. Can you talk about how you col­lect per­fume mem­o­ries?

That’s a nice thing to do––it’s a bit like end­ing up with an ol­fac­tive post­card of lands that you’ve vis­ited. I would say that there is noth­ing more lux­u­ri­ous than hav­ing a scent for a hol­i­day. I feel that we are a slightly dif­fer­ent ver­sion of our­selves when we go on va­ca­tion and it’s lovely to have a new per­fume cho­sen specif­i­cally to fit that trip, to help trans­form your ex­pe­ri­ence into some­thing as sen­sory and en­joy­able as pos­si­ble. Some­thing that works re­ally well in this sense is to think of the quin­tes­sen­tial notes and styles of that re­gion you are go­ing to and find a scent that em­bod­ies that style. Like if you are go­ing on a re­lax­ing Mediter­ranean get­away, em­brace notes of Berg­amot, Fig, Neroli and the like. It re­ally en­hances your ex­pe­ri­ence in an au­then­tic way.

What is the most fan­tas­tic or sur­pris­ing story you can re­late around cre­at­ing unique scents for clients, per­haps an un­ex­pected twist in the story of the creation?

There are two sides to my busi­ness––i make be­spoke cre­ations for pri­vate in­di­vid­u­als as well as hav­ing my own com­mer­cial brand, Roja Par­fums. The be­spoke ser­vice is where I cre­ate di­rectly with a client and it is some­thing I treat with the ut­most con­fi­den­tial­ity. It is a very in­ti­mate process where the clients re­veal a lot of their in­ner­most thoughts and feel­ings. One time three dif­fer­ent ex­am­ples of one raw ma­te­rial went like this––one per­son re­called a damp coun­try­side and tweed jackets, whilst an­other re­called cheap clean­ing prod­ucts, whilst an­other was trans­ported to their child­hood in an African mud hut. This ma­te­rial? Jas­mine from Grasse, which costs £34,000 per kilo.

Can you share your top five favourite, fra­grant lux­ury travel des­ti­na­tions?

I love Grasse, of course. Lo­cated in Provence, Grasse is the cen­tre of the Per­fumery world and where some of the best qual­ity raw ma­te­ri­als come from. My favourite place on earth is the Ital­ian Riviera, where life is sim­ple yet fine, just like the food. I also love Salalah in Oman for its Frank­in­cense; The Mid­dle East for its Aoud; and Mysore, in In­dia for its leg­endary San­dal­wood.

Can you share your most unique job ti­tle with us?

One jour­nal­ist once re­ferred to me as The Pornog­ra­pher of Per­fumery. I al­ways re­mem­ber that one as it re­ally tick­led me and I quite liked it. The scents that I make are in­cred­i­bly sexy and they cer­tainly do not shy away, so I thought it was ac­tu­ally a rather apt moniker to re­ceive. Why not be dar­ing with per­fume, af­ter all?

Roja Dove

The scent of Roja Dove, a lit­tle lux­ury

Where the magic hap­pens in May­fair, Lon­don

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