Shaper: Roja Dove

Roja Dove

Roja Dove was born in Chichester, England in 1956. He discovered his passion for perfumes around the age of 6 when his mother kissed him goodnight before leaving for a party – with Roja adding it was “the first time I made a connection between smell and a moment.” Roja was inspired by the aroma of a sweet and spicy bread wafting from the oven of his childhood home and the mossy, woodiness of the bluebell copse in his grandparents’ garden.

As a teenager, Roja spent all of his pocket money on bottles of perfume and started writing to Guerlain at 15. He was finally offered a job when one of Guerlain’s three founding cousins became “fed up” with receiving endless faxes and phone calls. Roja promptly left his medical studies course at Cambridge University and joined Guerlain to develop a perfumery training course. Thereafter, he worked with Nancy McConaghey, the creator of the perfume Ivoire for Balmain. Roja remained at Guerlain for 20 years before leaving in 2001 to become a bespoke perfumer. Roja Parfums launched in 2011 as “an antidote to mass-produced scents.” Roja has said that he is able to identify 800 scents from a single sniff.

Follow Roja on Twitter @RojaDove.

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“We often don’t think of what goes into making something we see or we buy or we use. I believe that my life was almost pre-ordained or pre-destined – that I was supposed to be doing this.”

“We launched in Harrods and we now sell in just short of 200 shops around the world in just over forty countries.”

“The hallmark of my work is the luxury of the raw materials and I believe very strongly, like with cooking, that if you don’t buy the very best raw materials you can never make a great dish.”

“Sense of smell is the oldest sense in living organisms and you don’t smell with your nose, you smell with the most primitive part of your brain.”

“As a parent, give your child an item with your perfume on as a reminder and to make them feel safer.”

“The best rose in the world comes from the South of France. It’s called Rose de Mai because it flowers in May, it takes around 306,000 flowers picked by hand to make a kilo of the oil and the entire year’s production is less than one day’s production of the Bulgarian rose, as an example.”

“I also have a lot of perfumes that don’t sell terribly well and we have them because, from my point of view, they’re very, very important artistic, creative creations.”

“It’s a five day process to make the perfume cap. The boxes are made by hand and are lined in silk inside.”

“I was asked if I would create a scent for an auction at Christies for the HIV and Aids charity Terrence Higgins Trust. Rather than making the perfume, I put up an 1925 decorative empty bottles that Baccarat could re-blow. I decided that for whoever won the auction I would create a special perfume. It fetched more money than anything else.”