Having previously lived in the Middle East, perfumer Roja Dove is well-accustomed with the region’s emotive relationships with our fragrance notes. “I like how our Arab clients choose the perfume which speaks to them, not just following the popular crowd,” he muses. “There’s an element of personal storytelling involved.” For his latest release, Isola Blu, Dove has created his own tale, revolving around the concept of eternal vacationing. “I think everybody you speak to would say they can never get enough time on holiday, and so we try to make it the most special thing we can possibly make it,” he explains. Dove dreamed up what he calls his fantasy summer holiday, with a relaxed journey to the Mediterranean serving as his inspiration for the new fragrance launch. “It’s an imaginary island, the Isola Blu. We reach it only by boat, travelling the coastline of the Mediterranean along the front of the fields of lavender. It’s so hot that the lavender actually bakes and by the end of the summer it’s brittle and dry, with an incredible aroma which is very woody, very earthy, very deep with, with the freshness of the ocean behind.”
With top notes of Calabrian bergamot adding a refreshing sharpness to the composition, Isola Blu relaxes into its woody lavender heart with note of cut grass – “a quintessential sign that summer is here”, adds Dove – before resting into a mossy wood base. While not a conventional choice for the Arab traditionalist, Dove says that Isola Blu and its promise of sparkling water and carefree days is the ideal choice for those looking to branch out into a more citrus-led scent, thanks to the depth lent by oakmoss, amber, leather, patchouli, and tonka bean, with a punch of pink pepper.
In contrast, Roja Dove’s companion launch for 2023 is a fragrance which is much closer to home. Taif Aoud celebrates the rose of Taif, Saudi Arabia’s famed floral. Found in the mountains of Mecca, the bloom is prized for its honeyed notes and rarity in perfumery. “This fragrance is really a story about Saudi and its natural abundance when it comes to luxury perfumery,” shares Dove. “I like the idea that the Taif roses grow at altitude, and I wanted to recreate the feeling of the sun coming onto the mountains in the morning, shining onto the roses.” While oud and rose is a classic combination, Dove wanted to add something different to the Arabian stalwart. “I didn’t want it to be a powdery rose or a velvety rose. Instead, I wanted this big bright open rose, which the aldehyde and the blackcurrant notes give to it. The aldehydes in the top give a bright shimmering effect, and the blackcurrant makes it feel almost juicy and very dewy, like the start of a fresh new day,” he explains. “I also wanted to capture the depth of the land, the history, the age of the mountains from where the roses spread, and this is what the frankincense and rich amber offers.”
Now stocked regionally at Roja Dove boutiques and Harvey Nichols, the perfumer muses that it’s not a case of choosing between the two very different launches – even for an oud die-hard. “My Middle Eastern clients have always been so supportive, and already the feedback for Isola Blu as exceeded expectations,” he says. “The citrus and aromatic notes are lovely because they make you feel alive, and hopefully the warm, richer base gives them the depth that you like, but in a new and modern way.”