The Scented Hound

Abbreviated perfume & fragrance reviews from one man's perspective


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Roja Parfums Risqué (Creation-R)

Roja Parfums RisqueWHAT I SMELL:  Risqué (marketed as Creation-R in the United States) opens with a warm and sensual bergamot that is surrounded by the deepest rounded and lung filling florals that feel as if they are trapped in bosom of a hug and which at first is like they are fighting to get out of that hug, only to surrender and bury themselves deeper into the warm embrace of the feminine mystique.  As perfumes go, Risqué is head swimmingly beautiful, yet there is this undercurrent of carnality that draws you in without release.  I have said this before, that when I review a Roja Dove parfum, I always have to state that the blending is seamless and as such the individual notes af for the most part are hard for me to pull apart.  This creation is no different.  After around 10 minutes, the florals starts to sink further into the skin as if they are retreating to a more primal place only to then begin radiate and project from what seems to be a labyrinth below.  There is a dusting of leather and civet that wrap themselves around the perfume like a cage that attempts to keep the cat from its prey. And finally, after an hour or so, a layer of creaminess covers the perfume, only to make the cat purr like a kitten.   I don’t find that there is particularly a great deal of development with Risqué, but that’s the most wonderful aspect of the perfume overall.  So many perfumes start off strong and interesting, only to be left as a shadow of its former self.  Instead Risqué remains deeply warm, deeply carnal, deeply passionate and beautifully sensual.  And as a plus, Risqué weaves its magic all through the night…leaving a whisper of itself into the morning.

From the Roja Parfums website:

“On The Edge Of The Forbidden”

WARM, DRY, FRESH, SWEET, & LEATHERY

“When I created this I thought of how society tells us how we have to behave, think, and act. So I decided to create a perfume that seemed tailored and disciplined – but as it develops it starts to show its overtly sensual base, which gets warmer, darker and more overt with each breath”. Roja Dove

INGREDIENTS
TOP:  Bergamot
HEART:  Chamomile, Hyacinth, Jasmine, Rose, Ylang Ylang
BASE:  Cedarwood, Civet, Labdanum, Oakmoss, Patchouli, Vetiver

simone-simon-cat-people

WHAT IT SMELLS LIKE TO ME:  The beautiful Simone Simon as Irena in the 1942 version of Cat People, who turns into a panther when aroused by passion.

THREE ADJECTIVES THAT DESCRIBE RISQUÉ:  seductive, pulsating, intense

WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING ABOUT RISQUÉ:  Kafkaesque

BOTTOM LINE:  There are certain perfumes that hit us on a level that can’t be explained. Every breath of Risqué wraps me up in this enchanted and seductive spell never to let me go.  This is a full bottle must for me so I better start saving my pennies…OK dollars, because I’m in love.

  • Bone Rating: 5 out of possible 5 bones
  • Scent: Chypre
  • Nose:  Roja Dove
  • Classification: Feminine
  • Expense: $480 for 50 ml Parfum


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A Neiman Marcus Sunday with Roja Dove

Roja Dove AoudThis past weekend I had the wonderful opportunity to spend some time with perfumer Roja Dove as he was in the Washington DC area to launch his Roja Parfums collection in the Tyson’s Corner Neiman Marcus store.  The primary reason Roja was here was to provide an introductory training session to the sales associates at the store.  So not only did I get a chance to sit down and chat one on one with Roja, but I was able to hear him talk about his collection, his creation process and how to introduce his perfumes.  It was really an eye-opening experience to say the least.

NeimanMarcus2But let me go back for a minute.  If you look at the perfume industry, there aren’t many names that loom as large as Roja Dove (at least living).  His 20 years at Guerlain, the Roja Dove Haute Parfumerie in Harrods, the Roja Parfums collection and his recent appointment as a Creative Cultural Ambassador for the GREAT Britain Campaign for his contribution to British perfumery all contribute to the fact that he is master at his craft.  So I have to admit that I was a bit nervous to meet him.  And as I was expecting, he arrived at Neiman Marcus, perfectly dressed in one of his trademarked jackets, with rings of diamonds and gold all topped by a very captivating smile.  What I wasn’t expecting, was a very wonderful warm, inviting, friendly and easy to talk to individual who was passionate about his work and who was incredibly down to earth.

Before addressing the Neiman Marcus staff, we had some time to chat one-on one about  various subjects; from the new release of the 2nd edition of his book, “The Essence of Perfume” (an incredibly beautiful resource book at a great deal) to his love of jewelry (much of what he was wearing originated from his mother’s collection of jewelry where he has re-purposed original pieces in new settings for rings, cufflinks, etc….and they are gorgeous!), to some new projects that I was sworn to secrecy on, but which sound incredible.

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Roja Dove and The Scented Hound

But the bulk of what we discussed was his collection of perfumes and how he approached the creation process.   Launched in 2011, Roja wanted to create perfumes where the root of the perfume is the creation of the scent; not something that is driven by marketing.  He wanted to create perfumes that go back to a time when they had character and were exotic and beautiful.  So his initial collection started as an extension of his approach to his bespoke parfumerie.  In other words, that each person is unique and their tastes in perfume vary, so he wanted to create a balanced palette of fragrances that crossed all through the various fragrance families.  In the initial collection for women, this included perfumes in the floral, chypres and oriental families and for men, perfumes in the fougere, chypre and oriental families.  The newer Extrait collection follows the same family path; florals, chypres and orientals.

When creating a new perfume, he stated that he initially decides on a floral family and then breaks down the family further to the facet level (fresh floral, cool floral, powdery floral, etc.).  Once the facet is decided upon, the first step is to come up with a name which will fit that particular facet.  For instance, “Scarlet” probably would not be a good name for a powdery floral fragrance.  Once the name is chosen, the creation process begins.  It’s really as simple as a name, but as you can see from the names of the perfumes, they don’t solicit simplicity.  Fetish for example.

So after our discussion, it was time for Roja to speak to the sales associates.  Given the collection, what he wanted to impart the sales associates with was how to approach his perfumes with the customers.  He said the key to understanding the customer and what they like is not to speak of “notes” or “fragrance families” but to introduce them to perfumes in each family, gauging their likes and then exploring the perfumes in each of those families further.

P79_Floral Family

The Floral Family

He introduced the team first to the feminine floral family of fragrances which include Scandal, Innuendo and Mischief and provided a description as to what he was attempting to create with each and what his inspiration was behind them (the inspirations and stories were funny, fascinating and sometime a bit risque!).  We were each given three strips, one for each fragrance and were asked to hold off on sniffing them as he was going to give us direction as to what order to smell the fragrances and what to look for.  We would sniff, for instance, Scandal at first which was a big head turning floral; then we were asked to smell Innuendo which more powdery and light.  He then asked us to then sniff Scandal again and he asked if we then noted how much more heady the perfume seemed after smelling the powdery Innuendo.  It was utterly fascinating and eye-opening as to the differences in the facets and the movement from one to another seemed to bring forth extra life and hidden notes in the already beautifully lively perfumes.  It went to show that each design and creation is not just a single and solitaire perfume, but a masterfully thought out and fluid collection as a whole.

Roja then went through the same process with the feminine chypres (Risque, Fetish and Unspoken), his favorite family to work with, and then the orientals in the collection (Enigma, Danger and Enslaved) as well.

It should be noted that the Creation perfumes that are sold in the U.S. are actually the same perfume as in the other parts of the world, but due to US trademarks, some of the perfumes can’t be sold under their original name.   Therefore, Innuendo is Creation-I, Enigma is Creation-E, etc.  but they are the same perfumes.  Roja Parfums is working with the trademark issues and soon some will appear under the original names in the U.S.  I’m so glad, because Enigma speaks volumes over the name Creation-E.

Roja then went through the men’s fragrance line and said that the bottom line with the men’s collection is that he wants to create perfumes that make you feel sexy!

Roja Dove perfumeHe then went into discussions on the bottle designs (the Swarovski crystal tops are based on his diamond ring of the same shape) and the fact that the new bottles are moving towards a nameplate that is a gold plaque vs. a gold label.

Finally, Roja spoke about his top-selling Aoud perfumes, punctuating the discussion with the fact that Amber Aoud is his biggest selling perfume worldwide.

Overall, this experience gave me new insight into the creation process and how to approach perfumes, not from note standpoint, but from a fragrance family and facet understanding.  And I do have to say that you can tell the difference in the quality of the materials in Roja’s work.  He discussed some of the rare ingredients being more costly than gold bullion and the costly and time-consuming extraction process.  That quality in his work is impossible not to see or smell.

As for the sales associates, I could see their understanding of the perfumes come alive and I asked if one of them if it was typical for a perfumer to provide a one-on-one session with the depth of background on their perfumes.  I was told that the day’s event was very a-typical, but such a great opportunity to really get to know the vision of the perfumer which will be incredibly beneficial to their assistance with their customers.

Final Cover_Roja BookRoja made a statement during our time together that stands out in my mind.  He said that he understands not everyone will love his perfumes, but he’s not concerned about that fact.  He wants them to either love or hate his perfumes, because in him mind it’s worse that someone would say that his perfume elicits nothing or that it’s just OK.  To him, mediocrity is not acceptable.

To gain a more comprehensive understanding of Roja’s vision, I greatly recommend his book “Essence of Perfume” where he goes into detail on his creation process as well as provides a detailed overview of the fragrance families, facets and materials.  It’s recommended on my Holiday Gift Guide for 2014!

Finally, I would like to give special thanks to Dana Narode and her wonderful staff at Neiman Marcus for allowing me behind the scenes access and for helping to make this a fascinating and enlightening day.

What a fun way to end 2014!


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The Scented Hound’s 2014 Holiday Gift Guide

christmas dog

How is it possible that it is already December 1st and Christmas is less than a month away??!  If you’re like me, you have barely started to get your holiday shopping act together.  So to help you out, this list of nifty gifties might just help you ease into the shopping spirit.

CHRISTMAS WITH A CAUSE

As many of the perfume community know, Tama Blough, former editor at CaFleureBon is battling cancer.  The wonderful people within the fragrance community have come out with strong support in her time of need.  The first two items on this holiday list offer a fantastic product, at the same time proceeds will go to Tama to help her with this unfortunate struggle.  People coming together in support of others embodies the holiday spirit at its best!

To donate directly to the Tama Blough fund, click here.

APRIL AROMATICS SAN FRANCISCO ROSE

San Francisco RosePerfumer Tanja Bochnig has created this limited edition rose beauty to celebrate Tama’s favorite flower, the rose.  100% of all proceeds will go directly to the fund to help Tama.  San Francisco Rose is a limited edition and only 200 will be sold.  I got mine and trust me, this rose is magnificent!

From the April Aromatics website:

San Francisco Rose is comprised of Rose Otto from Turkey, Rose absolute from Bulgaria, Orris Root from France, Hibiscus Seed from Ecuador, Tonka Bean from Brazil, Sandalwood from India, Patchouli from Sumatra and a touch of Oud from Saudia Arabia. Made in Berlin/ Germany with the purest, natural ingredients and the highest intention. It contains an essence from almost every part of the world.The perfume is infused with Herkimer diamond and Rose Quarz for its healing quality of feeling unconditional love.

San Francisco Rose 30ml Eau de Parfum, available for 111 Euros from the April Aromatics website.

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DSH PERFUMES INTERPRETATION OF THE PLP PROJECT

love_5mlextrait2-720x720The PLP Project was conceived and imagined by “GoodSmella (and friend)’, Carlos J. Powell to commemorate the third anniversary of his Facebook fragrance group, Peace Love and Perfume. The PLP Project is an invitational compilation of unique fragrances created by artisan and indie perfumers based on this simple brief: “Peace: a meditative incense fragrance; Love: a sexy animalic fragrance; and Perfume: a traditional cologne with a twist on the concept.”

Dawn Horowitz blew the PLP concept out of the park with her contribution of this project.  All three interpretations are amazing and incredibly unique:

From DSH Perfumes:

peace_5mlextrait2DSH Peace is my meditative incense design that bridges East and West, incorporating notions of what “incense” means from a Japanese, Arabic, and a Monastic / Western perspective. Peace also allowed me to use some rather unusual materials in the construction such as Bakul attar, Choya Ral, and Laotian Oud. Of course, at the heart there is the traditional Frankincense and Myrrh resin accord layered with rich Rose de Mai and Orris. For the top note I looked eastward to the aromatic Champaca Leaf. The result is like something familiar, warm, and comforting mixed with a sense of wonder at what you are actually smelling.

For DSH Love I let my imagination go to a time and place when animalic perfumes reigned supreme: the early to mid-20th Century. Of course, I included all four of the traditional animal notes: musk, civet, ambergris, and castoreum with added elements of botanical “animalics”, ambrette co2 and labdanum with a large dose of a rather new material, hyracium tincture (aka African Stone). The heart is filled with indolic juhi jasmine, orange flower absolute, and gardenia balanced by a slightly sharp and spicy white pepper and aldehyde top note. The result is a lush, provocative, and thoroughly sexy perfume.

Lastly, DSH Perfume is a rather unorthodox pairing of grapefruit, rhubarb, and cognac accented by a luscious tropical fruit accord with green notes of basil and pittosporum to create the “fresh cologne” aspect . A vibrant jasmine heart dries down to a surprisingly creamy ambrette, guaiacwood, and vetiver finish. This is definitely a modern twist on the ‘eau de cologne’ design concept.

I have to say that Love is probably my favorite as it’s just so animalic and brutally sexy that when I wear it I just can’t stop sniffing myself!

The DSH Perfumes PLP fragrances are all limited editions:  Limited Edition Extrait flacons (5 ml Antique presentations) of Peace and Love ($105 each); Perfume as a Limited Edition of 50, 10 ml spray flacons in Cologne Absolue strength ($48).  There is also Discovery Sample Set available for $36.  In addition, 15% of all sales of the PLP Project perfumes will go directly to the Tama Blough fund.  To purchase one or all of the fragrances, go to the DSH Perfumes website.


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BY KILIAN FRAGRANT JEWELRY

Kilian Hennessey knows perfume and knows how to package his fragrances like no other.  The exquisite bottles and cases which are a trademark of the brand now have some lovely cousins as part of the family.  The By Kilian jewelry collection is impeccable.  I saw up close at Sniffapalooza both the necklaces and bracelets and they are not only beautiful but scented with your choice of the By Kilian line (the bracelets are infused with two fragrances created just for them!)

These products, which start at $195 are an excellent way to glam up your holiday wardrobe.  You can purchase them on the by Kilian website or at fine retailers.


 

GIFT SETS FROM TWISTED LILY

Womens-Sampler Gift SetWe all love gift sets because it’s like having many presents all in one.  Twisted Lily offers many gift sets, but they have combined several various sets in order to make up their Ultimate Gift Sets, one for women and one for men.

The women’s collection is made up of:  Arquiste Florals Gift Set 4 x 5ml, 2014 Ladies Mini Collection by Penhaligon’s 5 x5 ml and the Amouage Women’s Sampler 12 x2 ml.  Available for $185.

The men’s collection is made up of:  Arquiste Citrus & Woods Gift Set 5 x 5ml, 2014 Mens Mini Collection by Penhaligon’s 5 x 5ml and the Amouage Men’s Sampler 12 x2 ml.  Available for $190.

Check out these ultimate gift sets as well as all of their other gift sets and fragrant goodies available at Twisted Lily.


 

CLAUS PORTO SOAPS

Claus Porto SoapThese make the perfect gift for those who love luxurious and long-lasting quality soaps.  Founded in 1887, this Portuguese brand has been creating incredible artisanal soaps that are a testament to their rich and long heritage.  In addition to the quality of the product, the packaging is a work of art in itself.  Some of the offerings include Banho, comprised of citrus and verbena and Favorita a red poppy delight.

Gift sets of three hand soaps can run around $36 and single bath bar sizes can run around $15 each.  An internet search can help you find the best prices and shipping options based on your location.


 

VOLUSPA MAISON HOLIDAY CANDLE GIFT SET   

Voluspa 2014I love candles and the ambiance they can create.  This new offering from Voluspa helps to brighten the holiday cheer with a collection of three fragrant offerings in the most beautiful of packaging:

– Visions of Sugar Plum: filled with notes of tart white plum, dried cherry dusted with powdered sugar, toasted hazelnut and lemon zest.

– Cinnamon Ceylon and Copal: a blend of Ceylon cinnamon and cassia with golden copal resin and amber.

– Spruce Cuttings: filled with the scent of royal Colorado blue spruce cuttings freshly snapped and trimmed for a fragrant garland.

Each is 3 ounces in size.  You can find the gift set for around $50 at Nordstrom and other fine retailers.  Other sizes and individual candles from the collection are also available.


 

CARON NUIT DE NOEL

editions_limitees_nuit_de_noel_pillowAs far as I’m concerned, my Christmas holiday wouldn’t be complete without the wearing of Caron’s classic, Nuit de Noel.  Created in 1922 by Ernest Daltroff, this perfume highlighted by notes of ylang-ylang, tincture of rose and jasmine, sandalwood, oak moss, musk and amber is like the most comfortable sweater to be worn all throughout the season.

You can read my full review of the parfum extrait version by clicking here.

For a very special present, Caron is offering a limited edition Nuit de Noel Pillow.  Nestled in a pillow of Limoges porcelain, is a 28 ml bottle of Nuit de Noël extract, adorned with a gold thread.  The Caron Nuit de Noel pillow is a limited edition of 1000 pieces, this beauty is 400 Euros from the Caron Paris website.


 

Final Cover_Roja BookTHE ESSENCE OF PERFUME BY ROJA DOVE

The Essence of Perfume is the most informative and richly beautiful book that I have experienced in a long time and would be the perfect gift for any perfumista, bar none.

From the book’s press release:

The Chypre Family

The Chypre Family

The Essence Of Perfume by Roja Dove is the Master Perfumer’s definitive guide, offering a rare glimpse into the knowledge, passion, and creativity of a Master Perfumer. Since it was first launched, The Essence Of Perfume has become the benchmark text for perfumery worldwide, and is an indispensable industry reference for many professional fragrance organisations.

Roja Dove takes us on his own personal journey of scent, from his transformative childhood  memories, to the creation of Roja Parfums; revealing scandals of the fragrance  world printed here for the first time. Dove explains why it is essential to look to the  past in order to create the future, asking ‘What Next’? If Dove’s prediction is correct, perfumery is about to change forever.

P265L_Group of BottlesDue to unprecedented global demand following the sell out first book, this new  edition features additional sections about the inspirations behind Roja Dove’s creations; new methods of extraction; a comprehensive list of the exotic raw materials of perfumery; and never seen before fragrance bottles. Highlighting classic male fragrances, this new book is one of the first to celebrate men’s perfumery in its own right.

You can purchase the book via Amazon.com for $26.53.  This is a bargain for such a lavish book and the hard copy is a must as you’ll want to be able to get the full effect of all of the book’s incredible visuals.


 

PRODUCTS FROM BLUE Q

Michell Obama Blue QEven though this is a perfume blog, not all gifts and presents need to be fragrance centric.  Blue Q offers some off-the-wall products that are fun and not all that expensive.  One thing you’ll find is that they have a collection of artful shopping bags that will help make your grocery shopping all that much more fun.

I love the Mighty Michelle Shopper that illustrates Michelle Obama as the “First Lady of Fabulous!”  A fun way to shop and only $11.99 too boot.

Check out all of the fun and interesting items on the Blue Q website.


 

ARCHIE MCPHEE

worlds_best_cat_trophy_1_1My list of recommendations would not be complete without my favorite go-to store for those all-important stocking stuffers.  Archie McPhee has a collection of the most fun and irreverent offerings that can make anyone in your household smile.  They even have something for those furry kids, like the World’s Best Cat statue.  Does your four-legged friend deserve one of these prizes this year?

You can get Fluffy his very own trophy for only $9.95.  Check out all the good fun on the Archie McPhee website.

I hope you find at least one item on this list that will make a loved one happy.  The Scented Hound wishes you “happy shopping!”