Whenever I smell a perfume by Roja Dove I usually think two things:
1. That the quality of the ingredients is extremely high, and that the creations available in his growing stable of perfumes are a beautiful throwback to a time when perfumes didn’t smell cheap, pink, and nasty.
2. That they don’t really have any discernible character. I always smell chords, and lovely notes, and delicious things floating up towards my nostrils, but they always tend to remind me of some other perfume; reminiscences of Mitsouko here, of another amalgam of Guerlain or Dior there, of roses, and amber, and jasmine (and always bergamot), but rarely coagulating into something unique, distinctive or especially memorable.
And Innuendo, a scent I applied in extrait, as I settled down with a glass of wine post-work to watch a film and relax last night, seems to suffer from the same, repetitive identity crisis (‘who am I?’), while simultaneously plushing up my senses, as usual, with something, once it settled down, that made a rich, comforting, and very sensual wrist companion.
The other day, as I came up the escalator from the basement supermarket in Ofuna, I found my smell brain instinctively uttering
” I NEED ANANYA”
a sudden yearning in me, perhaps because of the drab, rainy season weather and the scentless zombies that were coming at me from every direction with faces like miserable, slapped arses, for the kaleidoscopic, tropical, fruited and heavily made-up event perfumes of the eighties, on this occasion for some unknown reason The Body Shop’s shiny, laundry- soap Xanadu of musks, glinting oranges and faux frangipanis that was, at the moment, exactly what my smell brain was craving as food. The scents that abound these days are often so damn serious and worthy (in niche), or else shallow, cheap and crass beyond belief (in duty free) that sometimes I just yearn for the days of Ysatis, Poison, Lumière and the like, shining extroverted amulets of perfume that women would wear on their sleeves like sleek, bejewelled hearts – pedestrians be damned – the delectably noxious fumes that would encircle their tart, stiletto medusas.
Or else Obsession, which despite what anybody might say about it (I’m talking to you, Perfumed Dandy) for me personally remains an absolute cornerstone in my olfactory life, the precise moment I went insane over perfume (my university friends will attest to how strongly I smelled of Obsession For Men and all of its body products (good lord the liquid talc) how I stank up the entire staircase with it even though I lived on the fifth floor); or the moment, when a friend of a friend got into a taxi, all dressed up and gorgeous and wearing the original Obsession, with its delectable, delectable amber and taunting top notes of mandarin and I practically swooned, instinctively wanting to sink my teeth into her neck like a dizzied, inflamed, Saturday night vampire.
Roja Dove, a flamboyant type if ever there was one (you should have seen his Scarab-beetle-green jacket at The Jasmine Awards) obviously has a yen for this opulent period in recent perfume history too, as his Innuendo is like a heartfelt paen to this decade of earrings and excess, of synthetizers, eyeshadows and lip gloss, of extroversion, in spite of whatever the press copy for the scent might say about Innuendo being a ‘delicate scent of suggestion’, a ‘feminine perfume of violets, orris, and musk….. soft as a whisper’.
No, the somewhat confused entry notes are a glacé swirl of Bulgarian rose, iris, orris powder, and citrussy orange jasmine ylang in the finest eighties tradition, a miniature, inverted tornado of diffusive, womanly vapours that suggest the dresser (“a lingerie draw, make up, a knowing look” as the perfumer himself suggests), and big, beautiful hair being teased up ready for the juiciness of the evening ahead – an excitement that the spritz of this perfume can surely only heighten. At this point in the proceedings, however, we do not have the sense of a perfume that has been fraught over for years and years until its idiosyncratic heart is nailed and become unmistakable, like the true classics, but a kind of generic, sweet and floral cloud that floats above her lovely head but doesn’t quite know what it is trying to say.
But. As the clock hands seem to go faster (“Will you hurry up?!”), and she clasps that bracelet to her wrist; by the time she is actually ready for the door, last check in the mirror, she is smelling as heady and delicious as a panther queen: those sweet, floral, but almost redundant heads notes faded, now, and what is left just the most perfect amber – sultry, skin-cushioned, soft, crushable, (an expertly crafted base accord of labdanum, tonka, orris, patchouli and musk) that smacks less of innuendo, now, and more of thrilling, stark, and downright suggestion.