uncovering the sheer genius behind the world’s most luxurious fragrance house
The sixth floor of Harrods’ Salon de Perfume in London holds many sensory delights, but none quite as magnificent as Roja Dove Haute Parfumerie – a treasure trove that holds some of the finest fragrances you’ll ever encounter. All of them have either been selected or created by British master perfumer Roja Dove, who is frequently referred to as the greatest nose in the world, and for good reason.
His own scents come loaded with ingredients that cost more than pure gold – natural ambergris, rose de mai and jasmine de grasse, for example – and are encased in bottles with Swarovski-encrusted, 24k gold-coated caps. With a richly diverse and almost dizzying array of Dove’s fragrances to choose from, his trusted five-member team is on hand to uncover each client’s signature perfume through a private fragrance consultation.
(A one-hour consultation costs £150, RM792, which is redeemable against purchase. Prior booking is strongly recommended.)
“These are fragrances that tell stories. Here, we aim to marry a person’s personality with that of a fragrance," the Parfumerie’s business manager, Marcel Van Der Merwe, explains. “Think of our unique odour profiling techniques as a bunch of keys that find a scent to fit and unlock every client."
As Van Der Merwe proffers a multitude of scented white cards, encouraging me to compare two at a time – woody chypres or sweet florals, for instance – I surprise myself by leaning towards opulent oriental notes over crisp, fresh fougeres.
“We don’t judge a book by its cover!" he says playfully. “This is also an educational process that teaches you to understand how a fragrance develops, and to dismantle preconceived notions of sweetness, muskiness and vanilla."
For in Dove’s hands, everything from oud to orange blossom smells a world away from its usual incarnation in commercial perfumes: they travel, evolve and take on different dimensions in the most marvellous ways. Wear one of his perfumes, and you’ll find their sillage – a perfume’s individual trail – fits you naturally, like a luxurious second skin.
Eventually, I choose Neroli from Roja Parfums’ Heritage Collection – or rather, it chooses me (scents start at £245 (RM1,292) for an eau de parfum and £375 (RM3,538) for a parfum).
Although the fruity and sensual Elysium Pour Homme and Van Der Merwe’s favourite, Diaghilev, present tempting options, perhaps that’s the joy of exploring Roja Dove Haute Parfumerie – discovering the perfect match that reveals itself unexpectedly and delights you.