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Jaime B's Blog

Roja Dove Diaghilev: A Review

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Well, it's taken me a couple of days to get around to it, but I think I'm ready to give a review of Diaghilev. I haven't given it a full wearing yet, but I applied a couple of miserly spritzes on three different occasions, and I can say a few things about it now.

Just to recap the pyramid:

Top Notes: Bergamot, Amalfi Lemon, Orange •Middle Notes: Jasmine, Rose de Mai •Base Notes: Vetiver, Orris Root, Patchouli, Oakmoss, Vanilla

First off, it strikes me that there's more to this than it seems at first. The pyramid would appear to be a just skeletal outline. To my nose, there are things going on here that Dove doesn't want to tip his hand about. For one thing, there is something inexplicably like cinnamon and chocolate in the drydown that the pyramid offered doesn't account for. Also, the orris in the base note seems to be tweaked by something slightly ambery and subtly earthy. I suppose the proportions of patchouli and vetiver with vanilla in precise proportion could achieve this ambery-earthy effect. After all vanilla and amber share a cinnamic note. Overall, I think the base notes are apparent from the outset; even as the top notes are unfurling, oakmoss and patchouli are seeping through, and the vanilla note isn't very long in appearing either.

As for the heart of the fragrance, the pyramid mentions the classic rose and jasmine floral centerpiece of many chypres, but again this is inadequate to explain the impression that arises as the scent evolves. The jasmine is so well-balanced that it doesn't stand out against the rose, but seems to impose an uncharacteristically dry, fruity character to the rose de mai. It could be a question of sourcing the rose material. Most of the centifolia rose used in perfumery is said to come from Grasse, but there are many subtleties in aroma obtained by different methods of distillation. This is reminiscent of the rose used by Fléchier in Frédéric Malle Une Rose, which is a fractional distillation product from rose concrete.

Now, a word about sillage and longevity: I have to say that a very little of this goes a long way. The sprayer mechanism is not generous, exhaling the merest puff of juice with each squeeze of the poire. (I like that the French imagination calls the little ovoid bulb a "pear.") A mere one or two sprays produces an immediate bloom of scent, and the sillage is rather prominent, but not overwhelming. It remains quite lively for a couple of hours, and then gets a little closer to the skin, gradually becoming quieter as the scent evolves. I think if I had sprayed as I would for a full wearing rather than as a skin test, it would have continued longer. Time will tell. As for longevity, that is excellent. Though quieter, it is still very present on the skin even the following day.

I would give this an overall 4.5 stars, the only drawback being that the sillage could fade a bit less quickly. It is a discreet floral chypre in the classic vein, of the variety that substitutes patchouli for cistus labdanum in the base. I believe it can easily be worn by a man as an elegant evening scent, though it might be a bit of overkill for work or casual wear. It seems perfectly blended and balanced in a way that makes the floral and chypre effects seamless; indeed, the construction achieves some mysterious and dramatic effects throughout, though it does this without departing at all far from the classic structure.

Capsule summary: a fine example of Roja Dove's usual clever sleight-of-hand.
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  1. Primrose's Avatar
    Thank you, Jaime, for reviewing this. I recall the news when it came out and it seemed rare and unique. Thank you for the vicarious sniff!

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