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










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.


















Filed under amber floral musks


  1. Natalie

    Your (as always, well written) description is intriguing. I like the image of a dizzied vampire! Not enough to try this get past how much I dislike this brand, but I do like your review. 🙂

  2. Katy

    Can I get an Amen up in here! I too, frequently long for the big stanks of the 1980s. Poison was my, well, poison of choice! I cut my perfume teeth on L’heure Bleue and Coriandre, remember, their 1970s iterations and I also wore Tabu, thus the stage was set in the formative years! I know I love it when a fragrance has a big, hefty character, one you can sink your teeth into! I recently purchased Hermes L’ambre des Merveilles, which I know is quite beloved, but to me, it does not have any weight. I love it’s mandarin orange opening and after that there is nothing left. Mauboussin Histoire d’Eau fills this craving plus cedar plus lots of lovely stewed fruit, thank you Ms Nagel! I like loud! Alien, Black Orchid, Bal a Versailles! As for Mr Dove, I think you hit the nail right on the head. I never want my first reaction to a perfume to be I already have something like this and it is better! On the other hand, my wallet likes that a lot!

  3. What a great and vivid description of this fragrance. The RD’s I tried before the prices went from crazy to oil sheik/ mafiosoesque, matched what you said ‘That the quality of the ingredients is extremely high’ and ‘they always tend to remind me of some other perfume’ – so I try not to tempt fate, by not actively seeking them out.

    • You can definitely live without this, don’t worry, nice though it is. I have some more Roja Dove samples to work through, though, so who knows if there is a genuine masterpiece lurking somewhere in the box of vials. I doubt it though, somehow.

  4. Olivia

    Ananya! I love it (are you surprised?) Despite it’s humble means, it’s florid and buxom – a heady, tuberosey-fruited thing whose blueprint remains seared into the nose-brain for ages afterward (for me, anyway.) I still have a bottle, and it beats so much of the earnest (and expensive) niche stuff I smell. There’s something so full and unabashedly sexy about it. I’d agree about the RDs too – they smell good and rich but somehow soulless – oddly dead eyed despite the bling (too studied, maybe?.) For me at least, they lack that extra ‘thing’ that flips my tummy when I smell it and adds a layer of confidence when I wear it. And honestly, with the marketing angle: in my old jeans and raggedy jumpers, we’re just not meant to be.

    • You, in your jumpers and jeans an Ananya, is, I am sure, DIVINE.

      You, in some brainwashed three thousand quid fashion outfit and Roja Dove extrait, not quite as appealing an image.

      I am glad you know what I mean about Ananya. Do they still make it? I am literally craving it.

  5. Lovely review and I also adore that you love Obsession, I have the vintage cologne and extrait which are just heavenly.
    As for Mr Dove’s fragrances, the general consensus is that they are reminiscent of other scents, mostly Guerlain. This is not hard to imagine since he was with Guerlain for such an extended period; I actually met him over 15 years ago at a Guerlain event at which I purchased one of the vintage re-issues. He was very knowledgable and passionate about Guerlain, so it is not a surprise that his line would be unduly influenced by the Guerlain greats.
    That being said, why would one wish to indulge in his ” ode ” ( no pun intended) to Guerlain creations, when one should just wear the originals? That is my reservation with his line, not to mention the exclusivity aspect; I would rather wear an 80’s HUGE fragrance, than one so exclusive that it borders on the Why bother aspect. Better to smell fabulous in an iconic powerhouse, than not bad in a niche homage to another house.

    • It’s interesting that other people are agreeing with me on this point, that nothing they have smelled has really struck them as truly distinctive (I think his Vetiver might be a different case in point, though – it is really rather beautiful).

      Delighted you understand my obsession with Obsession as well: I would say that no other perfume has had more impact on my life. I feel full reviews coming on.

      • Obsession truly was and still is a very iconic scent. It is comforting, yet it is a big 80’s scent. A full review would be wonderful.
        As far as RD Vetiver, does it resemble Guerlain’s? I am not too familiar with his.

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