Showing posts with label Roja Dove. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Roja Dove. Show all posts

Monday, July 14, 2014

Harrods Unveil The Salon De Parfums... And Move The Roja Dove Haute Parfumerie

The Roja Dove Haute Perfumerie photographed in July 2014,
a few weeks before its transformation

If there's one reason for the enduring success of Harrods, it's the fact that the people who run it - whoever they may be at any given time - never rest on their laurels. There's nearly always something changing or being upgraded at the store, be it the escalators, the eateries or the location of the various departments. Following on from their extensive refurbishment of the Black Hall on the ground floor - one of London's top perfume-shopping destinations - current owners, Qatar Holdings, have just announced the imminent arrival of what promises to be a major addition to the city's fragrance scene: the Salon De Parfums.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Rodrigo Flores-Roux On Re-Making Fougère Royale For Houbigant

When I met Rodrigo Flores-Roux at the London launch of the John Varvatos range of scents, I asked him about his work on the reformulated, 2010 version of Fougère Royale, a creation which he called "a complicated thing". Would someone smelling the original and the current version be able to smell the difference between the two?

Friday, October 26, 2012

Persolaise Review: Florabotanica from Balenciaga + Fetish Pour Homme from Roja Parfums + Pétale Noir from Agent Provocateur (2012)

This week, I give you three interesting twists on familiar themes. First up is Florabotanica, the latest from Balenciaga. Basically, it's yet another rose, but thanks to the skill of IFF perfumers Olivier Polge and Jean-Christophe Herault, it is also an intriguing exercise in creating something that appeals to a younger demographic without being condescending. In other words, it isn't a fruity patchouli based on a shampoo accord. Its floral heart is balanced at one end by melon notes (which are never allowed to grow too pink or silly) and at the other by a dry facet (possibly a combination of iris and cedar). The whole package works extremely well, from the scent itself, through to the presentation (the contrast between the retro-groovy bottle and the coiled, hyper-colourful vines on the box is superb) and even to the advertising campaign, featuring an inscrutable Kristen Stewart. Her laconic expression seems to say, "Don't come here if you're looking for clichés" and for once, the fragrance backs her up.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Persolaise Review: Vetiver from Roja Parfums (2012) + Pour Femme, Pour Homme & Jaïpur Homme from Boucheron (2012)

Do we really need another vetivert? Well, of course, the answer to that is No, but then, if perfumery were an art form driven by nothing more than need, it wouldn't have evolved beyond the point at which an amorous caveman decided to cover himself with the pungent secretions of a wild cat. We certainly don't need another vetivert, but we're always on the lookout for one which might shed new light on what is very familiar territory.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Persolaise Review: Reckless from Roja Parfums (2011) + Yellow Diamond from Versace (2012)

It’s all very well encouraging fragrance houses to propel the art of perfumery towards the future, but sometimes, it’s beneficial to look back to the past. Most other art forms - literature, movie-making, painting - offer plenty of opportunities for a re-appraisal of what’s come before. After all, it isn’t difficult to hunt down old books or films. But perfume is a slightly different matter. As is well known, fragrances that bear the names of creations from bygone years may not smell remotely like their originals. And the contents of a ‘vintage’ bottle may not offer an accurate representation of what the perfume was like when it was first created.

Monday, April 2, 2012

FiFi UK Best Independent Perfume Finalists

Image: Fragrance Foundation UK

On Friday, Fragrance Foundation UK announced the shortlist for this year's Best Independent Perfume FiFi Award; as a Jasmine Award winner, I was one of the judges on the panel, an honour for which I'm most grateful. Here are the four finalists, in alphabetical order:

Mister Marvelous from Byredo
Pomelo from Jo Loves
Precious One from Angela Flanders
Reckless from Roja Parfums

The winner will be announced at the FiFi Awards ceremony on 17th May.

To find out who's been shortlisted in the other categories, please click here.


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Poisonous Candles + Roja Dove At The Wellcome Collection

I hope you're all behaving yourselves while I'm catching up on my summer reading. I'm just breaking my cyber-silence for a few moments to let you know that an article I wrote about a recent Roja Dove lecture in London has been published on Basenotes; please click here to be taken to it.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Persolaise Goes Mobile + BBC Four Perfume Documentary Broadcast Date

I've already mentioned this on Twitter and Basenotes, but just in case some of you aren't yet aware: episode 1 of Ian Denyer's perfume documentary will be broadcast on BBC Four at 9 pm on Tuesday 28th June.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Review: Blessings eau de parfum from Belinda Brown (2011)

I think my brain’s vocab centre has had a slight melt-down. I need a synonym for ‘fuzzy’, but none of the ones I’ve come up with so far capture the exact type of ‘fuzziness’ I’d like to convey. ‘Fluffy’, ‘velvety’ and ‘fleecy’ come close, but the first one’s too silly, the second one’s too soft and the third one’s too ovine. The combined talents of Roget and haven’t been a great help either. ‘Plumose’ is linked with feathers, which isn’t what I’m after. ‘Velutinous’ relates to soft, fine hairs, which also isn’t right. ‘Tomentous’ (superb word!) refers to the matted, woolly down on stems and leaves, which raises unwanted botanical connotations. And ‘pubescent’ is, on this occasion, just plain wrong.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Mirror Up To Nature: Diaghilev At The V&A

We're all aware that, over the years, perfumery has been influenced by other art forms and, indeed, by wider socio-historical developments. Nevertheless, it's always fascinating to see concrete evidence of this flow of ideas, which is precisely why I was thoroughly enthralled by a recent Roja Dove lecture at London's V&A Museum. Using the current Diaghilev exhibition as a springboard, Mr Dove presented a summary of early 20th century perfumery, with a particular focus on how the fiercely avant-garde sensibilities of the Ballet Russes indirectly supported the women's rights movement and, to some extent, the perfume industry's adoption of more abstract, more daring compositions. It was particularly interesting to discover the effects of Paul Poiret's costume designs - which included harem pantaloons and lampshade tunics - on various flacons and advertising imagery.

However - engrossing though all this information was - the real highlight of the evening came when Mr Dove announced that he was about to let the audience smell two classic, discontinued fragrances which he has had especially remade: Guerlain's Coque D'Or and Djedi. Blotters were passed around the lecture theatre amidst a hubbub of excited murmurs from perfume fans. Eventually, two, thin paper strips reached me - I've now got them safely ensconced in a hermetically sealed chamber 30 ft below the basements of Fort Knox - and I took a deep breath. Coque D'Or is an effortlessly elegant, smoky, mossy balsamic; Djedi plays high notes of aldehydes over low beats of the deepest, blackest vetiverts. Both are sleek, rich, beautiful and totally unlike most of the scents released in today's IFRA-fearing climate.

Whilst I sat there, turning my head from one blotter to the next, wondering if we're ever going to combine the force of our indignation in order to reverse the anti-allergen lobby's gradual destruction of our global cultural heritage, I was struck by a question. Developments in perfumery have often been determined by changes in society and technology, but has the reverse ever happened? We say that life sometimes imitates art, but has a perfume ever acted as an agent of real, meaningful change in the world? If we could confidently say that the answer to these questions is Yes, then we may have another argument to use in our attempts to persuade the Powers That Be to stop their senseless erosion of this most emotionally charged of art forms.


[Since writing the above, I've discovered that there's a little bit of confusion about whether Coque D'Or and Djedi really are discontinued. I did a bit of investigating and the final word - received directly from Roja Dove's team - would appear to be that the perfumes are, in fact, no longer available anywhere. The samples used during the lecture came from a batch which Guerlain made especially for Mr Dove.]

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Fougère Royale Give-Away Reminder

Yesterday, Madame Persolaise and I decorated the entire house (with the help of a few hapless elves), so we're now officially in Christmas mode and ready to tuck into mince pies and brandy cream. There are still one or two presents left to buy - and several menus to plan - so today I'll leave you with just a few bits and pieces of news.

First of all, please don't forget that you've only got until 10 pm tonight (UK time) to enter the draw for a sample of the new Fougère Royale.

Secondly, I'm very excited to be able to inform you that one of the most prestigious perfume houses in the world recently provided me with a sample of their latest release specifically so that I can use it as the prize for another draw here on I suspect I won't actually hold the give-away until early January, but I just thought I'd tease you with an enigmatic preview.

And finally, I hope that at some point next week I'll be able to post a few words about a thoroughly enjoyable talk I attended on Friday night at which Roja Dove charted the influence of the Ballet Russes on the perfume industry. Although all his anecdotes and observations were deeply fascinating, the real highlight of the evening was when he gave the audience an opportunity to smell two long-discontinued classics. More details soon...


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

When 24 Just Isn't Enough

Regular readers of this blog will know that, every now and then, I'm drawn to the subject of time... or, more specifically, the lack of time. I've been thinking a lot lately about priorities, which has raised questions about the number of hours I spend writing this blog as opposed to fiddling around with my bottles of lotions and potions. Don't panic: I'm not pulling the plug on This blog is an absolutely indispensable part of my personal perfume world. Although it isn't even a year old yet, it's enabled me to come into contact (both real and 'virtual') with all sorts of interesting and generous people from across the globe. Crucially, it's also helped me clarify and sharpen my own views about this endlessly fascinating subject we all love. I think it was E M Forster who once said that it's impossible for us to know our thoughts on a topic until we begin to verbalise them. That's precisely the reason why I keep writing reviews: the discipline of trying to articulate and express my analyses in a succinct, accessible form has done wonders for my abilities to conceive and create my own fragrances.

Having said that, I think the balance is going to have to change ever so slightly in 2011. My main ambition for the coming year is to make a perfume that I can confidently send out into the big bad world. This will almost certainly mean fewer posts.

I expect I'll return to this subject again soon, but for now I ought to remind you about the draw for a sample of Fougère Royale and I should also direct you to my Basenotes article about the fragrance's recent launch in London. Before I put up the sign that says 'Closed For Christmas', I do hope to post at least two more reviews, but if I don't manage it, I'm sure you won't hold it against me. I'd also like to publish a few lines about an event I'm attending at the V & A on Friday at which Roja Dove is going to talk about the creation of his new Diaghilev perfume.

See what I mean about time: there's never enough, is there?


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Review: Fougère Royale from Houbigant (2010)

How do you make a fougère that has enough fougère-ness to justify the label but not so much that it smells like a disappointing cliche? That's precisely the challenge faced by Houbigant when they decided to resurrect what's often referred to as the original modern perfume: Fougère Royale. Created in the 1880s by Paul Parquet, it was the first fragrance to contain synthetic coumarin. Although the substance exists as a component of several widely-used natural materials - such as hay absolute and tonka beans - Parquet's use of the synthetic version in his composition marked a genuine entry into previously uncharted waters.

Historical achievements notwithstanding, the world has changed a fair bit in the last 130 years: Fougère Royale was discontinued several decades ago, the usage of coumarin is currently restricted and tastes in perfumery are markedly different, especially when it comes to fougères. Precisely because it was so influential all those decades ago, Parquet's accord of bergamot, lavender, geranium, moss and coumarin now spells 'dad's boring after shave' to a whole generation of perfume-lovers anxious to create their own olfactory landscapes by rejecting certain smells favoured by their parents and grandparents. Of course, this doesn't mean that the genre is no longer successful. Far from it: several variations on the original theme have turned out to be some of the most popular masculines of the last few years. In fact, it was only a few weeks ago that Penhaligon's added another chapter to the fougère story with Bertrand Duchaufour's Sartorial. But despite these occasional highlights, the general view is that the fougère is stuck in the past, that it's a scent for the sort of guy who shudders at the thought of wearing a bright silk tie and is sent into paroxysms of agitation when he sees that the shelves at his local supermarket are stocked with moisturisers and anti-wrinkle creams for men.

You'd have thought that Houbigant would've buckled under the weight of all this social pressure and preferred to leave Parquet's creation to the myths of the past, but clearly someone somewhere in their hierarchy thought it would be a good idea to re-make the scent. The question was how. It turns out that the answer was to keep things simple and expensive: get your naturals from Robertet, your synthetics from Givaudan and ensure that the new composition places greater emphasis on the middle section rather than the drydown, which is where dad's boring after shave has the greatest potential to make its unwanted presence known.

The 2010 reformulation of Fougère Royale - presented in an elegantly weighty, Lalique-inspired flacon - serves as a reminder that the genre is essentially designed to be a fresh evocation of the outdoors. Citrus oils - so potent you'd think a lemon was being squeezed right under your nose - instantly send you back to the first sunny weekend of the summer, when you rediscover your short-sleeve shirts and spend Sunday morning reading the papers in the garden. The masterfully blended lavender-rose-geranium heart accord propels you into a memory of an evening in August when you and your loved one went for a long walk through a field and the sun didn't set until 10 o'clock. And yes, when the drydown arrives, the slightly sweaty mossiness does evoke a composite image of all the male authority figures of your childhood and their faded blue shirts, but the tremendous quality of the whole product bypasses many of these negative associations and allows you to re-appreciate the curious, smoky, almondy, hay-like characteristics of coumarin.

It'll be interesting to see how this release performs at the till. A part of me thinks that the careful balance of its blend might turn it into a perfume equivalent of a Jack of all trades, master of none: most people will find it very pleasant, but perhaps few will consider it sufficiently exciting to purchase. This would be a real shame. Although I'm generally not a fougère fan, there are some days when I'm fed up with niche artfulness and I just want to wear something that says 'masculine' in no uncertain terms. Fougère Royale fits the bill very well. It pronounces the word in a manner that is calm, authoritative and cultured without making you think you've been sucked back to the Time That Style Forgot. Despite all the odds, it's a pretty impressive triumph.

[The official press release for Fougère Royale lists Roja Dove and Rodrigo Flores-Roux as its creators; review based on a sample of eau de parfum obtained in 2010; fragrance tested on skin.]


Please note: I had planned to hold a giveaway for a sample of Fougère Royale. However, I decided it would be better to postpone it so that it doesn't interfere with Saturday's very special draw. I'll run it at some point in the week beginning 6th December.]


Friday, October 29, 2010

Baccarat At Harrods

Please click here to be redirected to my Basenotes article about the final event at Harrods' Perfume Diaries: a presentation by Baccarat.

Have a wonderful weekend,


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

European Perfumery At Harrods Perfume Diaries

Some of you may be aware that Harrods recently hosted an evening of presentations on European perfumery. If you'd like to read my Basenotes article about the event, please click here.


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Perfume Diaries at Harrods

A few days ago, Madame Persolaise and I had a leisurely wander around the Perfume Diaries exhibition on the 4th floor of Harrods. There is a great deal I could write about the two hours we spent there, but in the interests of brevity, I shall have to restrain myself to just a few thoughts and observations. In a nutshell: it is without doubt a must-see. If you consider yourself to be a perfume fan and you're going to be in the London area between now and the beginning of October, you absolutely need to make your way to Knightsbridge.

My recommendation isn't entirely unreserved. For a start, the punctuation and composition of the prose that accompanies the artefacts is quite appalling in a few cases. I'd also suggest that insufficient attention has been paid to masculine fragrances, although I appreciate that the history of perfume revolves largely around scents created for women. I would also have enjoyed a few more opportunities actually to smell some of the creations on display, but I suppose this might have created a logistical headache for the organisers. But these are relatively minor quibbles and did not detract from what turned out to be a thoroughly illuminating experience.

The exhibit basically follows the same structure as curator Roja Dove's book, The Essence Of Perfume: after a brief explanation of fragrance creation and raw materials, the visitor is guided, decade by decade, through a history of scent. The rarity of some of the bottles on display is nothing short of astonishing and must surely mark some sort of milestone as far as UK-based perfume exhibitions are concerned. There are two bottles created by Guerlain exclusively for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, containing two different scents that were designed to complement each other. There is a highly collectable - and rather hideous! - dog-shaped bottle made by Christian Dior for a fragrance which he used to give to his friends. There are also several old Coty bottles on display, including the Holy Grail itself, the much sought-after Chypre.

Questionable prose notwithstanding, I enjoyed reading the blurbs that provided a summary of each of the decades: on the one hand they proved the old adage that plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose, and on the other, they were helpful in placing the development of perfume within the context of other art forms.

Other personal highlights included seeing the original packaging for an 1840s Guerlain soap, featuring the official authentication of the French government in order to distinguish it from the counterfeits which were apparently in high circulation at the time. I was also impressed by the bottle for an exclusive Thierry Wasser creation called Abeille De Guerlain, designed, appropriately enough, like a giant bee, with massive, bevelled wings. Apparently, only 46 bottles of this new scent have been made and each one costs more than 10,000 euros. Chanel No. 5 is given pride of place in one area of the exhibit with a fascinating line-up of all the scent's bottle designs, from its birth to the present day. The original flacon still seems shockingly minimalist by today's standards, so one can only imagine the impact it must have had when it was first sold.

It was encouraging to see that the exhibition concludes with the assertion that the future of the industry belongs to niche perfumers: a cabinet containing creations from the likes of Ormonde Jayne and The Different Company is covered in quotations expressing the idea that knowledgeable consumers are now choosing to turn away from the celebrity, market-research driven ethos that defined much of the mainstream fragrance output of the last two decades. Perhaps this was a somewhat incongruous statement to read in the setting of Harrods, but I took it as a sign that the event's organisers have made a genuine attempt to cater to the needs of a wide range of visitors, and judging from the fact that Madame Persolaise - who is by no means a perfume fanatic - enjoyed the two hours as much as I did, I would say they succeeded quite admirably.

[Unfortunately, visitors are not allowed to take pictures of any of the exhibits, but please click on this link to be taken to a Basenotes article which contains quite a few photos.]


Sunday, September 5, 2010

Perfume Regulation On The BBC

UK readers may like to click on this link to listen to the latest podcast of BBC Radio 4's You & Yours. About 27 minutes into the episode you'll find a report focussing on the regulation of ingredients in the perfume industry; the interviewees include Roja Dova and Linda Pilkington of Ormonde Jayne.

Whilst fragrance afficionados may not learn anything new from the podcast, it is interesting - perhaps even encouraging? - that a mainstream context like Radio 4 has decided to highlight the current state of perfumery in one of its flagship programmes. Some of the statements in the report are questionable, such as the assertion that IFRA is responsible for the ban on certain raw materials (check out this post from Andy Tauer for an illuminating explanation of where the regulatory power really lies). It's also worth noting that whilst the speakers in the report acknowledge that certain classics have had to be reformulated over the years, they maintain that these changes are almost impossible to discern by consumers (I can hear all of you laughing with derision right now). And I was personally very pleased to hear more people express concern about the weird logic that allows potentially lethal peanuts to be sold with a simple health warning, but forbids a customer from making a personal choice about buying a product containing an 'excess' of oakmoss, which may cause little more than a rash.

A 10-minute report on You & Yours may not change the world, but it does offer welcome evidence of a growing awareness of what many consider to be an increasingly important problem.


Thursday, July 1, 2010

Roja Dove's Haute Parfumerie

One of the perks of publishing on the Internet is that you can change posts with which you're not entirely happy. This one is a case in point: over the course of several months, I've taken it off, amended it, re-published it, decided it wasn't right, tweaked it some more, re-posted it, deleted it again... and so on. The reason is that it's taken me quite some time to decide precisely how I feel about the glitzy bauble on the fifth floor of Harrods, aka the Roja Dove Haute Parfumerie.

My first visit left me unsatisfied: I was lost in a sea of haute-ness. I glanced at some of the bottles, sniffed a few things and trundled away. But I was soon drawn back for many return visits. And since then I've come to the conclusion that the elegant, mirrored enclosure is quite simply one of the most important perfumeries in Britain, if not the world. For one thing, it holds several UK-only exclusives (the list keeps changing but at the moment it includes Profumum Roma, some Carons and a few MDCIs, amongst many others). But what makes it really special is that it represents one person's vision of what constitutes great, modern fragrance creation. The place has to obey fiscal imperatives; that goes without saying. It's a shop, not a charity, and so the people who run it have to ensure that they stock sufficient quantities of stuff that's commercially viable (scented candles, anyone?). But within these prosaic constraints, it achieves a feat to which few shops even aspire. In short, it is a showcase not so much of what one man thinks people might buy, but of what one man thinks people ought to buy.

The way in which this ethos manifests itself in the shop is in its refusal to carry the entire portfolio of the brands it sells. Most perfumeries don't get to pick and choose which specific perfumes they stock from any given fragrance house; for instance, if they wish to sell Dior, they have to take on the entire mainstream Dior range. But Roja Dove is permitted to be selective. He can have, say, Eau Sauvage, Diorissimo and Diorling, but he can say No to Dior Homme and Addict. Check out his Guerlain selection: Vol De Nuit, Nahema, Mitsouko and a few others are represented in extrait form, but you won't find Idylle, Guerlain Homme or Champs Elysees. I suspect a tiny number of brands decided they wouldn't go along with this particular arrangement - wares from Chanel are conspicuous by their absence - but the sheer number of companies which have agreed to play ball is a testament to Dove's standing in the perfume industry.

When you combine this with knowledgeable service, a discreet, non-pushy atmosphere and blissful silence, you get a unique scent experience: one part visit to a shop, one part peek into a personal perfume collection and one part wander around a scent museum. An absolute must-see, if ever there was one.


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