Roja Dove – An Extraordinary Englishman Part I

It is easy to fall under the charming spell of Roja Dove. Britain’s most prominent perfumer, Roja is on his way to being a legend. The most-quoted perfumer and perfume historian of our time, he lives and breathes his passion every day.

His perfume “store” (quotes are needed, as the Haute Parfumerie is more of a shrine than a mere place of business) and his own line, Roja Parfums, have been Number One on my list of things to do in London, and I visited one and sniffed my way through the other. The highlight of my visit was my conversation with the man himself though.

Roja immediately put me at ease with his friendly and (frankly surprisingly) down to earth way. I had imagined a more exalted and flamboyant man, just seeing from his pictures, but I found him very warm and kind, and seemingly enjoying to regale me with tales from his fragrant universe, despite me probably being the umpteenth person to ask him the same questions.

“You’ll find I’m an easy person to interview”, Roja assured me and he was right of course. He is a born story-teller, someone you love to listen to.

After bonding over our mutual love for Hermès scarves, we were off into the world of perfume.

What perfume are you wearing? Are you more of a signature scent type or do you prefer a perfume wardrobe for yourself?

I am wearing my own creation, something that is only for myself and not for sale. For years, for decades really, I was a devoted Mitsouko wearer, but once it was reformulated, I could no longer recognize it as “my” perfume, so I went on a search for a replacement. Not finding anything suitable and “just right”, I made it myself.

I like to experiment with scent in my house, and enjoy scenting different parts of the house differently, but on my person, I am loyal to just the one perfume.

How did the Haute Parfumerie come into being? How do you select perfumes you carry in the shop?

I was asked to open this store by George Hammer, and at first I point blank refused. We sat at the next table from where we are sitting now and he asked right away, whether I would like to open a perfumery store, and I said: No, I just like some tea, please. But in the end, I am glad he suggested it. Since its inception the Haute Parfumerie is doing very well, bringing in a big percentage of Harrod’s sales per year. And the name Haute Parfumerie itself has been taken up here and there, but it was me who used it first.

As for the selection process: I only buy what I like. I’m not bound to take on the entire line of a brand, as is customary, but only select the ones I find worthy. Our store is the only one doing that, our stock represents the best of best, the true Haute Parfumerie.

Your own line, Roja Parfums, has expanded considerably from originally three perfumes, Scandal, Unspoken (my personal favorite) and Enslaved. How do you go about designing your line? How do you decide which perfumes to make?

It all starts with a name. I once sat down on my terrace with a friend, and we started thinking about perfume names. I went ahead and checked the availability of them all, and then starting with the name, I think about what perfume it could become. My range includes perfume from all the genres. It is a complete palette of scents. It should not be possible that all perfumes are loved by everyone, but everyone should be able to find his or her special perfume in my line.

A Roja Parfums bottle, is made by hand in England. Every little detail is thought of, every part of the production process is done by hand. One bottle needs days to be completed. Which is why I only have a limited quantity to sell, this and because I want absolute control over who says what about my scents, is the reason, why I don’t want my perfumes to be sold anywhere else than a very few select places. They are available only at the Haute Parfumerie (and its online boutique) and in a store in Dubai. I personally train my salespersonnel, because a profound knowledge of my perfumes is a necessary part of selling them.

Part II of my interview will follow tomorrow, so please stay tuned!


About Olfactoria

I'm on a journey through the world of fragrance - come with me!
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28 Responses to Roja Dove – An Extraordinary Englishman Part I

  1. Sandra says:

    What an honour for us readers! Thank you for posting your interview with Roja Dove. One of these days I will be able to smell his creations.

  2. Ines says:

    I’m already looking forward to reading more! 🙂 What fun!

  3. muza says:

    We want more! LOL Thanks so much for the great interview with the great man!

  4. poodle says:

    How lucky of you to get an interview. That is so fabulous! I never imagined him to be a down to earth guy either so this is really nice to read. Someday I’ll get to smell one of his perfumes I hope. I like his attention to details and need for control. Quality seems to matter to him.

  5. Tara says:

    Roja Dove is a signature scent person?! I guess if you create the perfect fragrance that represents you completely, you wouldn’t want to wear anything else. That’s fascinating in itself but I loved every word. I now also know why some perfumes from some lines aren’t stocked. I didn’t realise Roja picked only the ones he wanted from each brand. Very interesting.

    Thanks so much for doing the interview, B. Can’t wait for tomorrow!

  6. arline says:

    He is precious!!! I want him to make me a perfume!!! and I really, in my heart, want a perfect scent, maybe with a few variations within that personal scent, but I am not quite there. Probably because I am in the searching phase.

  7. Dionne says:

    Now I’m very curious to know what some of his selections are from the brands he carries. I’m always interested in what perfumers consider the best of the best.

    Great picture, Birgit, I love his puckish quality. It does make him seem approachable.

  8. Dubaiscents says:

    Now I am even more sad that I missed meeting him when he was here in Dubai to launch his new in house store! He seems like a very interesting person. “no, just tea please…” great line!

    • Olfactoria says:

      Ah, but at least you have the chance to get to know his perfumes at leisure. I always feel so pressured, because I know it is my only chance. (Unless I spring for samples from a decanting business, which I’m not about to).

  9. Georgy says:

    Which Hermes scarf did you wear? And how is the”husband”s bag project going on???
    Lovely interview btw, looking forward to part II

    • Olfactoria says:

      There is a photo of me and Roja in tomorrow’s post, but don’t get excited, it is just a gavroche, albeit a lovely one. 🙂
      The bag project is on hold because of an acute shortage of glue. 😉

  10. susan says:

    Great interview! Some really interesting revelations. I wish someday I could go to London again and check out the Haute Perfumerie… I understand his need for quality control, but it would be nice if his signature scents were available somewhere in the US.

  11. flittersniffer says:

    Ooh, fascinating stuff! Did you get a whiff of his signature scent? Or did he reveal anything more about it? I know he does those semi-bespoke lines that are kept in silver flasks under the counter type of thing, and which are in a very limited circulation, but presumably this is completely unique to him? I wonder if it is anything like “M”.

    Anyway, I look forward to reading part 2 and seeing both scarves in the photo! : – )

  12. Pingback: Roja Dove – An Extraordinary Englishman Part II | Olfactoria's Travels

  13. Pingback: A Perfumed Christmas Carol – The Ghosts Of Christmas Past, Christmas Present And Christmas Yet To Come | Olfactoria's Travels

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