In Conversation With Master Perfumer Roja Dove

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Credited with being the world’s only Professeur de Parfum, Roja Dove has established a rich lineage through his mesmerizing fragrances including the hugely successful Oudh collection

PP:Hello Mr. Dove…..What does perfume mean to you?

RD:I think perfume is one of the most fabulous things created by mankind because it is something that is kind to everybody irrespective of the caste, creed, colour or gender of the individual. It’s like a secret accomplice or a close friend that will always be true to you. Just a few drops of perfume have the potential to let an 80 year old woman feel like an 18 year old girl. This is indeed the beauty of perfumes that puts it several notches above the other fashion accessories.

PP: Please tell us something about your journey as a perfumer….How did it all start?

RD:My love for perfumes started very early when I was barely 6 or 7 years old. It all started with a good night kiss from my mother when I noticed the fragrance of her face powder and the scent she wore that used to linger around long after she had left . However, back then, I never realized that I would end up becoming a perfumer because as a child you are never sure. Later on when I grew older, I joined the House of Guerlain and worked with them for close to two decades before starting my own company in 2001 with a mission to create bespoke fragrances. In 2005, I opened a perfumerie in Harrods which was the first in the world to be a dedicated Oudh fragrances boutique.

PP: How did Roja Parfums come into existence?

RD:Frankly, I never intended to create Roja Parfums until one day my mother who was otherwise one of the most cheerful persons that I have known, said something very sad. She was concerned that in the generation after us, there was no one to carry forward the family name. Just around this time, one of my friends made me realize the impact that I had on the perfumery segment and convinced me to create my own line of fragrances during a casual dinner conversation. This was how the idea of Roja Parfums was born. Because of what my mother had once said, on the back of each bottle of Roja Parfums, in very small letters, you can read the inscription-A fragrance by Roja Dove. It is the only place where my family name exists and I hope that one day even when I am gone, I leave behind a legacy that is rich enough to continue through this brand so that my family name lives on.

PP: The Essence of Perfume..is a book everyone talks about. Please tell us about your purpose behind writing the book?

RD:When I originally wrote the book, the motivation was to pen down everything I know about the art of perfumery for future generations. The original book sold out and when the publishers approached me with a request to reprint it, I decided to rewrite the entire book which is how the second edition happened.

PP: How would you classify your perfumes: French or Oriental?

RD:People think that French Perfumes are the best. But, even the before the French came, British have had a prominent role to play in the perfumery segment. I wouldn’t want to classify my fragrances as French or Oriental. In fact, my perfumes are a representation of my British lineage and are classically European.

PP: What does Oudh mean to you?

RD:Oudh comes across as an exotic ingredient for us as in the West as it is relatively new and unexplored. My exposure to Oudh happened when I used to work with Paris Gallery in Dubai. To me, Oudh is the embodiment of a part of the world where I was made to feel very homely and welcome. Even my collection of Oudh fragrances are heavily inspired from my personal experiences in this part of the world.

PP: What is your take on the different categories in perfumery?

RD:According to me, Perfumery can be broadly classified in accordance to two categories-the commercial, lifestyle perfumes and niche perfumes. While the commercial perfumes usually carry the name of a fashion house and are popularized by marketing team, the niche perfumery is more interesting to look at as the trends in this segment are governed by the perfumers. This type of perfumery is more of a mixture between the quality of raw ingredients used to create the fragrance and the quality of the creativity involved in the process.

PP: Are scents gender biased?

RD:Usually, if we smell something floral, we tend to associate the scent with females while if you smell something spicy or woody, the association is masculine. However, the interesting part is that every perfume will generate a different fragrance when applied on the skin of a man as opposed to that generated when it is applied to the skin of a woman. Of course, we have a distinction between masculine and feminine fragrances but people should not hesitate to experiment After all, at the end of the day, a great perfume is that which simply comes to life when you apply it on your skin.

PP:Which according to you is your all time favorite ingredient to work with?

RD:I love ambergris and I also love labdanum. As it ages, ambergris acquires a sweet and earthy fragrance which is what I like about it. On the other hand, labdanum is derived from a small flowering shrub which smells quite ambergris like. In fact, I love ambergris so much that I would want to be buried with a little bit of it so that it stays with me forever.

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