OMAN Magazine meets with the man himself, notoriously referred to as ‘The Nose’. Roja Dove is a fragrance specialist, fragrance historian, and perfumer whose fragrances are sold all over the globe at luxury department stores. Born and raised in South East England, his career in perfumery began in 1981 when he joined the French perfume house Guerlain, working there for 20 years before leaving to set up his own companies RDPR and then Roja Parfums.
What are your thoughts on Oman as a country?
The beauty of Oman is that it is home to the world’s finest quality Frankincense which comes from a region called Salalah. Salalah, which is almost sub-tropical at the base of the Dhofar Mountains, is where it is harvested – in the exact same way it has been harvested since before the bible was written. It is quite simply one of the most precious raw materials in existence.
When did your passion for Arabian-noted fragrances develop?
Being the only Western perfumer to work in the Middle East (for three years), I’ve learnt many of the secrets of Middle Eastern perfumery. I think it is to this experience that I owe the knowledge of how to make Aoud’s that smell unlike any others. Many said Aoud was a fashion that would come and go. I’ve always said I believe Aoud is a raw material that will stay fashionable for a very long time. It has in-fact been around for hundreds of years so I highly doubt it to be a passing fad.
What specifically inspired you to launch ‘The Sultanate of Oman’ and why now?
On my journeys through the Middle East I discovered the world’s finest quality Frankincense from the Sultanate of Oman. I wanted to celebrate this incomparable material by combining it with Aoud – both of which take centre stage to create an expression which I believe has never been smelt before in quite such a way.
Depending on which country you are in; do you change your personal cologne or perfume? For example, in hotter climates do you steer towards a different fragrance?
I know of many people that do, but I personally stick to the one same perfume for any occasion, time or place for I made it specifically for myself using all the ingredients I love the most. I love it too much to change it. It is known simply as ROJA and after many years of people asking me where they could get it for themselves, I decided to launch 25 bottles of it in the U.K and 25 bottles world-wide on the 25th September – my birthday.
What are your thoughts on day and night fragrances? Should we alternate dependent on location and occasion?
Most definitely. It is precisely this notion that gave me the inspiration to create my Parfums De La Nuit Collection. I am a night owl and I go out every evening with friends after a long day of work. I came to notice that under the guise of moonlight people around me would change. Everywhere I looked people seemed to transform into a different, slightly more risqué version of themselves. So I created three deep, sensual fragrances that reflect those characters we all transform into: The Predator, The Seductor, The Exoticist. They are there to really bring out that character that lurks within us all.
How does it feel to be referred to as ‘The Nose’?
It is always humbling to have your work recognized, especially as being the epitome of perfume wisdom.
For those without the nose know-how, which quick tips can help when purchasing a new fragrance? What are the things to look out for?
The most important tip when buying a fragrance for yourself is to be thorough. If you smell fragrances freshly sprayed your nose will tire after the third one or so due to the alcohol content, which works like an anaesthetic. Smelling the perfume on paper, when the alcohol has evaporated is the only sane way to try a fragrance. Spray a few options on blotter cards, taking note of the name, and smell them away from the perfumery. Compare each one to the next, eliminating the one you like least. Continue this process until you have only one. Then go back to the counter and spray it liberally on your skin, allowing it time to develop: If it is still intoxicating after 30 minutes, you’ve found your signature scent.
Roja Parfums, Opera Galleria, Muscat
سلطنة عمان – روجا دوف
Now, onto gift giving. We are approaching Eid which is a huge holiday for gifting and celebration. One of the hardest things is buying perfume for someone else. What advice can you give in this area?
When buying for others consider their personality and correspond it to one of the four fragrance families: For those with a carefree, happy-go-lucky disposition go for a Floral perfume. If they are uncompromising, with a tendency for understated refinement go for a Chypré. If they have to be noticed and they have luxurious taste go for an Oriental. Fougère’s are citrusy and popular with practically everyone as people find them uplifting, making them a safe bet. Alternatively match the scent style to their personal style. Think about items the person has around the house then look for a fragrance that contains the same basic notes.
What’s in store for brand Roja Dove and your offering in the GCC?
Look out for more exclusives dedicated to the amazing cultures, landscapes and raw materials of the individual reigons, which will join Sultanate of Oman and United Arab Emirates to form a new collection, ‘The Gulf Collection’. Plus more retail locations including Roja Parfums Boutiques. It is a very exciting time for the brand in the GCC.
How can our readers keep up to date with you?
We are a small and self-funded brand and what I believe is very important it to continue to keep my brand human. Therefore what you will discover is that Roja Parfums does not advertise. The quality of my product should speak for itself and we rely on gaining exposure through the kind support of the press and also social media.
I am a great advocate for social media. I believe it can give back as much as it can take for itself. It is an amazing tool for keeping in touch with friends, family and colleagues; spreading awareness of reputable events, initiatives and causes; and encouraging creativity and ideas, and education. I think it is very powerful and I use it to keep myself accessible to journalists, fans and clients. As I stated, my brand is very human and social media helps further that wonderfully.
You can discover what is new both with myself and my brand, independently on both Twitter and Instagram with the tags @RojaDove and @RojaParfums.