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Master Perfumer - In Conversation with Roja Dove

L'Officiel Arabia sits down with one of the world's most respected Perfumers
Reading time 11 minutes
Roja Dove, Perfumer

The creator of Roja Parfums, he is globally renowned for working with only the finest ingredients in the world. To The New York Times he is “a master tailor of scent”. The Financial Times consider him “a legendary figure in the world of scent”, and GQ have declared that Roja is “the greatest nose in the world”.

Rolls-Royce, Champagne Laurent-Perrier, The Victoria & Albert Museum and The Macallan are just some of the world’s most prestigious brands that have called upon Roja’s inimitable style. 

The international success of Roja Parfums, combined with the creativity of its eponymous creator, led to Roja’s appointment as an Ambassador for The GREAT Britain Campaign – celebrating the best in British craftsmanship and innovation.

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What excites you about Perfumery? 

RD: The thing I love about perfume is that it has been with us since the dawn of civilization, evolving within the complex fabric of the human psyche and culture. Beyond the fact that it is so intrinsically linked to our memories, experiences and emotions, it is something that doesn’t discriminate. It totally stands above age, race and gender. It can be anything to everybody, as it is a non-judgmental and completely subjective art form.

What makes world’s most luxurious fragrance house?

RD: Roja Parfums is a brand that is entirely privately-owned and self-funded by me. Because of that, I am able to do entirely as I please with it, which is to say that I have nobody telling me what I can and cannot do. As a result, I am able to create entirely without marketing-briefs and cost-constraints. I am able to make perfumes that I truly want to make, using only the finest possible quality raw materials the world has to offer. Roja Parfums is a brand of sheer quality, creativity and individuality, something that has the authenticity of craftsmanship at its very core. I cannot think of anything more luxurious than that.

What was the most surprising thing you learned while creating the scents?

RD: As a Perfumer, one is always learning. You can think of it like a language – how one languages’ dictionary is filled of many combinations of letters, and yet, combinations of these same exact letters in a different language can tie the tongue or even be totally incomprehensible. Perfume is like a language where the combinations of odours are infinite. For example, one crop of Lavender might smell entirely different from another crop found mere miles away, and these crops can change from harvest to harvest. There are so many things that affect the nuance of each raw material (which can be compared to being like a pronunciation or an accent) and then the combinations of these materials form an entirely new odour in their blending and how they affect each other (which can be compared to the formation of a word itself). The surprising thing about scent is just how incredibly varied and versatile it is. In creating a scent, it doesn’t just take a number of months or even years to create, but you then have the fact that the finished product is likely to smell different on different people’s skins. The process of creating a scent never fails to surprise me as the ability to master it is infinite.

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What’s your earliest fragrance memory?

RD: I remember vividly my mother coming to kiss me goodnight when I was about 6 years old. She was on her way out to a cocktail party and dressed in a gold lamé dress; the light from the hallway illuminated her from behind, transforming her into an ethereal figure. It is an image that will always stay with me and the resonating scent of her face powder and perfume that lingered in the room once she had kissed me goodnight marked the beginning of my love for perfume. To bring this precious memory to life, I have blended a composition where gentle Carnation and Violet nestle on a soft bed of Orris and a specially-created Rice Powder Accord, whilst Aldehydes produce that sparkling effect reminiscent of how magical a kiss goodnight can make you feel. This is my ode to the purity of love and I believe it has the amazing ability to make those who wear it feel secure, cherished, and a little bit nostalgic. The scent is simply called “A Goodnight Kiss”.

The inspiration for creating a fragrance can come from many different roots. In some of your fragrances the inspiration is music and theatre.

RD: I am not sure that the inspiration for any of my scents comes specifically from music itself but rather the concept of theatre in general – a realm where music is at least ubiquitous. Perfumery is an inherently theatrical art form and, in some instances, it has informed my creativity. I have three scents that particularly spring to mind: Lakmé, A Midsummer Dream, and Diaghilev. Lakmé was commissioned by the Royal Opera House in Muscat, Diaghilev is an homage to the Ballet Russes, and A Midsummer Dream brings the famous Shakespeare play to life. I strongly believe that creativity inspires creativity – it is easy to be inspired by a place or a person or a moment, but often one might find that it is the inspiring work of others that informs their own imagination. 

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Are you a signature scent type of person or do you prefer to switch it up?

RD: I genuinely don’t have an opinion on signature scent vs scent wardrobe as I believe each person is different and should find what works for them. Personally, I am a signature scent person. I wore the same scent for 30 years and then one day I opened up a fresh bottle to find the formula had completely changed. It just wasn’t the fragrance that embodied ‘me’ any longer and so I decided I would create one for myself. I used all the materials I love the most and it was only after many years of people asking where they could buy it that it became the scent simply named ROJA. I would release 25 bottles to the UK and 25 to the rest of the world each year but demand became so high that we had to up the amounts to 250. It is a great compliment to know that so many people love the scent that I feel is the olfactive embodiment of my personality. I believe something many customers enjoy about it isn’t just the scent itself but also how it kind of allows them access to the perfumer himself, as Roja Parfums is a very human brand.

Who are the biggest fans of Roja Dove fragrances?

RD: I’ve always seen the Roja Parfums client as everybody. There are so many different people from different cultures and walks of life that seem to relate to what I create. Some are those that simply want the best in everything they consume – luxury is a way of life for them. Others are those who just completely adore perfumery and will do whatever it takes to save up for a bottle. Whoever it is that loves Roja Parfums, and wherever it is they come from, the commonality seems to be that they crave scents that are completely uncompromising. 

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Your brand is very young, and yet very successful. How did you develop brand communication and how much does internet help with the promotion?

RD: Thank you! Yes, many people are surprised when they hear that Roja Parfums has only been going since 2011, as I have been in the industry for such a long time. I often have to pinch myself when I think of what the brand has achieved in this short space of time. Before I launched Roja Parfums I ran a PR company and though I have a team of two who work on PR and Social Media for me, we have never paid any money in advertising or reviews or anything of the like. I have always wanted the communication of the brand to be very organic and to have a very human feel to it, as that is the brand in itself. Regardless of all the exposure I have been extremely fortunate to have been given by Journalists and Influencers, I have always said that the best form of promotion is word of mouth. Our clients really are our advertisers. If they love a product, then word spreads like wildfire, and the internet has only perpetuated that. Fortunately, because the brand is so open and accessible to our clientele, I really get to see this happen.

Which countries are your biggest markets?

RD: We are actually quite evenly successful across the world, which is humbling to take stock of the fact that so many different types of people seem to really relate to my work. The Middle East is an incredibly key market for us – we are lucky to have a good distribution across the various countries. We also see a lot of domestic clientele here in England, and the U.S, and across Europe and Russia. We have only recently ventured out into South America - where Brazil is one of the leading market consumers of fragrance -  and are yet to reach places such as Canada, Australia, and Asia, who are also a rapidly developing area for fragrance consumption. 

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What is your favorite part of the process of making the fragrance?

RD: I create every fragrance from the quiet and comfort of my own home. It is a cosy space where I keep all my materials, and even though it is in the centre of London, it feels a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of the city. It is like a little retreat where I can be left to myself in my own little bubble. I lead quite a hectic life and so switching off from all of that and simply immersing myself in the world of fragrance is time well spent and highly enjoyed. I love being able to focus entirely on my craft and see where my nose takes me.

What is your favorite art history period and why?

RD: Without question, I adore the Art Deco period. I collect pieces from this period in history and if you look across my brand you will really see how the style works its way into what I do. I just think it is the epitome of glamour. 

Please share with us some of your top tips on applying fragrance.

RD: The cardinal rule when applying fragrance is to never spray onto your wrists and dab them together as you crush the molecules and totally ruin the natural projection of the fragrance. Simply mist it over your skin, preferably on points where blood is closer to the skin, as the heat will intensify the fragrance and allow it to project beautifully.

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What’s in store now for us, Roja Parfums fans, in the Middle East? 

RD: I hope to continue to bring you new and exciting products that perhaps you didn’t see coming. I have launched my new Parfum-Cologne collection in the Middle East, which sees a very different route for the brand. Check them out at our boutique in the Dubai Mall.

 

About Roja Parfums

With over 50 stores across the world, Roja Parfums is widely recognized as the world's most luxurious fragrance house. Roja Dove is renowned for working with only the finest quality materials; from Rose de Mai, Jasmine de Grasse and natural Ambergris, all costing considerably more than pure gold, through to handmade, silk-lined boxes, and Swarovski encrusted, 24 carat gold coated caps, and candles with their fine fragrance grade oils mixed with the finest wax and painstakingly poured by hand, everything is made without compromise.

Each scent is made in England, and Roja Parfums is a true testament to the beauty of British perfumery.

When it comes to luxury fragrance, there is really nothing quite like Roja Parfums. The scents of Roja Parfums are stylish, contemporary and made to last, recalling the luxury of the past whilst anticipating the expectations of the future.

The concept for Roja Parfums is simple; it is Roja’s fundamental belief that there is a perfect perfume for everyone, and the collection is a balanced palette of scents that allows a client to find the perfect scent for them.

@rojaparfums

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