Fascinating story! Thanks for sharing and being a real friend.
A very close friend of mine is getting married in a couple of months, and I bought her a consultation with Marcel at the Roja Dove boutique at Harrods and the resulting bottle of perfume (which she plans to wear on the big day) for her birthday. We went together on Friday, and I thought you might like to hear about the process.
L is quite new to perfume. She'd believed for years that something about her skin made fragrances vanish on her (actually, she'd just been using very light fragrances with not much middle or bottom - Crabtree and Evelyn soliflores and so forth), but I showed her my collection a last year, and she became completely obsessed with Mitsouko and l'Heure Bleue, both of which stick around well on her skin. She's since bought both of them. She's a fascinating lady - she's got a doctorate in literature, specialising in the Victorian periodical, and has a flat full of wonderful artwork, books and more books. She loves quirky, antique and peculiar things, is delightfully physical , has wonderful taste, and is a very dear friend. I wanted to find something really perfect for her.
For the wedding she wanted something really unusual and personal.
Marcel started her off by talking for a long time about the sort of thing she wanted for the day; about what her dress would be like, where they were marrying, and what her personality was like. She surprised me by saying she wanted something which smelled 'a bit dirty, a bit rude' (remember, this is a lady who's been wearing Evelyn Rose for years). Marcel took her for a walk around their selection of Diptyque candles, using them to help her to find which fragrance families and notes she enjoyed. She seemed very drawn to floral chypres and orientals, and surprised me again by being overwhelmingly delighted by tuberose, which she'd not smelled before. (I do recall her commenting on my Mahora, now I think about it.)
Marcel next asked her to fill in a questionnaire on the computer. She was shown places (woodland; dry, sandy desert; tropical islands; modern cities; spice markets), textures (skin, metal, silk, wood and so on), words (sensual, soft, sophisticated, comfortable), colours and other choices, a lot like the process you can go through on the Guerlain website, but in much more detail. The questionnaire also asked which houses/perfumes she was already familiar with, which she liked, and which she owned already.
The computer then spat out a series of numbers. Marcel vanished for a moment and then came back with a box full of numbered phials and scent strips. These weren't commercial perfumes, but just very simple accords which I *think* Roja had organised himself. She was asked to sniff each of them, again in pairs, and choose favourites. She ended up with heliotrope ('My God! This is wonderful! I could eat it!), a white floral and a very dark, civet-y amber.
He went back to the computer, which, given the new information, selected a list of things for her to try. I was very impressed - it picked out things which, having spoken to her at length, I would have suggested as well, alongside some things I wouldn't have considered. Caron Poivre, Schiaperelli Shocking, Jardins de Bagatelle, l'Heure Bleue (it seemed to miss the fact that she already owned it), Mimosa pour Moi (odd, this - Roja Dove doesn't stock l'Artisan), Diorissimo, TDC Rose Poivree...and Clive Christian No 1, which I'm afraid I told her she couldn't have before she'd even smelled it! (Thankfully, she didn't enjoy it very much, so I have not had to remortgage.) These all suit her wonderfully - I was very impressed that they'd narrowed down her personality in scent in such a short time, and they'd pulled out all the things she'd mentioned as well - there was the heliotrope, some civet for the 'dirty' thing she wanted, ambers, the spices she mentioned earlier in the consultation...and lots of white flowers and roses.
Marcel gave her scent strips of the perfumes (minus Mimosa pour Moi) one by one without telling her which was which. If she liked one she had in her hand more than the other, then she was to keep the one she liked, pick up a new one, try it and compare it to the one she liked before. She would then discard whichever of the new pair she liked the least. On one occasion she wasn't able to choose...then Marcel said 'If you were in a room filled with this fragrance or a room filled with that one, which would you *need* to leave first?' Thinking about it in that way, she was able to narrow it down very quickly.
She held onto a strip of Jardins de Bagatelle from the first pair she was given (told you she liked tuberose) and only put it aside when she reached the final strip - Schiaperelli Shocking. It was soft, velvety, warm and dark on her, and suited her better than I could have imagined. I wish you could have seen her face when she smelled it on her arm - it was as if she'd just met a long-lost lover.
I bought the Shocking for her, and she decided to get Jardins de Bagatelle for herself as well. We said thanks and goodbye to all the staff at Roja Dove (I am never sure whether to be delighted or horrified at the fact that they all seem to know my name, and that they *always* say 'I suppose we'll see you again very soon' when I leave) then went downstairs via the Rance counter so L could try Josephine and le Vainqueur (she was, like me, fascinated by the possibility that we might me smelling Napoleon). We finished the day off in the food hall, where we ate oysters and drank too much champagne. A brilliant day out, and she's going to smell fantastic on her wedding day.
Fascinating story! Thanks for sharing and being a real friend.
Wow! Sounds like a wonderful time. That's very generous of you to take your friend for that consultation.
I'm fascinated by the analysis! I wonder what they'd make of me...
That was a really great story!
Having you as friend must be a wonderful experience. Roja Dove and a pub with scrumpy :bounce:
The bird of paradise alights only upon the hand that does not grasp
I have an appointment next week at Roja Dove. I have no one like Squeezeweasel to come with me, though. What a wonderful friend you are, Squeezy.
That is a great story! Sounds like a wonderful experience for you both and makes me want to wear some great old perfume "lover" myself.
That is a pre-wedding experience she will tell her grandchildren someday. You did a wonderful thing.
Last edited by Zibeline; 16th April 2007 at 02:55 PM.
Wow! I love this story. Sounds like heaven. I'm so happy for all parties involved. Thank you for all the time you took to relate these events for our benefit.
Last edited by Quarry; 16th April 2007 at 02:30 PM.
SEE IT NOW: BASENOTES DENVER MEETUP, THE MOVIE -- click here
This sounds wonderful - I would love to be led through this labyrinth of options to find a personality suiting scent. Everybody at Roja Dove is so incredibly helpful and pleasant. It's lovely to be surrounded by so much luxury and not be made to feel like chewing gum that the last customer brought in on their shoe (inferiority complex, moi?) as can be the case in some of the more "exclusive" establishments.
I wish your friend all the very best for her big day, too, Squeezeweasel.
Thank you so much for such a fun read!
Very informative and very detailed as well, i would have liked to be there and see all of your reactions and smelled a lot of those scented strips!...i have smelled many of the frags mentioned and i have also used the guerlain's website-based helper and it turns out i'm a fan of JardinsDB too, as well as champs elysées, a whole lot of the AA and so on...
You are such a great friend to your friends!
Usually Les Senteurs is pretty good, service-wise, too, but I've had one bad experience there where I was treated pretty sniffily after asking what the cheapest size available was for Carnal Flower. Must remember to ask for the smallest next time. Once given the reply (along the lines of it being a very special perfume and that I shouldn't expect such things to be cheap, followed by a thorough looking-up-and-down), I left without buying anything. Which was a shame for them and for me - I'd only been after a smaller bottle of Carnal Flower so I could justify (ha!) buying it *as well as* the Lipstick Rose and Une Rose I'd planned on buying. I wonder whether the fact I was carrying a charity shop plastic bag had anything to do with it?
Thanks for that, I really enjoyed reading your post. I think this service would be great for a non-basenoter but is it a way of finding a signature scent? I gave up on the idea of this a long time ago and now rejoice in the diversity of having different scents for different aspects of me and my life.
Don't get me started about Les Senteurs. Suffice it say that they do not get my business anymore.
Oh I just loved reading this. Wonderful inside into how Roja runs his parfumery.
Yum! Thanks for the delightful read! Now I must add Shocking to my to test list--I'm such a pushover.
Please, spritz responsibly.
It's the new one. I've tried the vintage one as well - I actually prefer the honey note in the new one; it's a bit less in-your-face. It's not a note I'm always comfortable with - I actively dislike Serge Lutens' Miel de Bois. Heresy, I know. The honey in Shocking is very distinct, and very forward, but it's not sickly. The juice itself is rather paler (the vintage is a darker amber colour). Besides a little quieting-down of the honey, I don't detect much difference at all, but I've not tried the vintage version in some time and couldn't do a direct comparison.
I'm pleased that the civet note is still so upfront. It's a note that a lot of reformulations try to tone down, but it works so well in Shocking.
I've only briefly sniffed the vintage but have a bottle of the new. From memory and description I think the vintage had a tad more patchouli and moss in the base along with the civet making it much more chypre, richer and earthier than the current formulation. Once in a while I layer it with Ava Luxe Sweet Patchouli and / or TBS Chypre perfume oil (vintage) to play up the missing aspects. Great fun.
It is still a fantastic 'Dark lady' scent, very unique. My kind of scent!
Favourite (Winter) Crazy Combos
Tabu + Orange Blossom * Hermes Rouge + Bellodgia* Voleur du Roses+ Rose Ispahan * Rasa Extreme + Paris * Wood Coffee + Cafe Noir *
Oh, what a lovely present to give to a friend, and what a fabulous story! I really want to do this now! :-)
(and I have to confess I haven't heard of the vast majority of those fragrances. I'm a total philistine)
"I don't know the key to success,
but the key to failure is trying to please everybody."
I love this story, too! it sounds absolutely fantastic and is something I *will* do too one day, when I'm older and have the money. Your prose style was so interesting that I was engrossed with this story You should write customer reviews for them, in the very least - you'd probably net them much more business!
If nothing ever changed, there'd be no butterflies.
No excuse needed for the lengthy post. It was lovely and I'm sure any of us would be grateful to have a friend like you. I join you in heresy. I wanted to like Miel de Bois; I have a memory of hawthorne that I would dearly love to match, but I could not get past that overwhelming sweet honey.
What a lovely gift from you! That's something I'd love to try some time.
Re: Les Senteurs, I've been there twice and was served by James, who is a sweetie. When I went to get Musc Ravageur I said I wanted the smaller size as I have a lot of perfumes (hell, I bought two on my previous visit) and he agreed that was the best thing to do. Gave me a few samples too.
One of the ones I bought on my previous visit was Miel de Bois, actually, and I really love that honeyed sweetness. I guess it's horses for courses.
Nice and interesting report, squeezew, thank you! I enjoyed it a great deal. This is something I would like to experience also, but I am too unfaithful (in fragrance) to stick to a signature scent. I have added Shocking to my to-try list
I'll stop wearing black when they make something darker
Great (and very well written!) story Dear Weasel!!
And your friend has the same nose as mine including the divine Shocking which I have not even bothered to try tracking down for fear of the disappointment that has accompanied re acquaintance with old classics. (My Sin comes right away to mind.) (Long before Paris Hilton, Madame made pink chic!!)
Now of course I've got to try Caron Poivre. :bounce:
Last edited by TaoLady; 17th April 2007 at 11:48 AM. Reason: Misspellings. Gasp!!
"The world is ruled by letting things take their course. It cannot be ruled by interfering." Lao Tze
Hirch - sorry you had a bad experience. Maybe he was having a bad day? Being a combats and trainers sort of girl I tend to get some odd reactions fro SAs in upscale shops but he was friendly and attentive both times. Not sayin' yer wrong, but just sayin'.
Re: Shocking - the I'd always heard that it smelled rather rude. That was the old version of course - is the new version similar in that regard?
Indiscreet - is James the guy with the very short hair, heavy rectangular glasses and (sometimes) a hat? If that's him, he was the one who was rude to me as well. I'm a combats and Converse kind of girl too (basically pretending to be an emo kid into my thirties), but I still swear it was the charity shop bag I was carrying that did it!
what a great story, what a great friend!
"Like a lobster with a pearl in its claw, the beet held the jasmine firmly without crushing or obscuring it. Beet lifted jasmine, the way a bullnecked partner lifts a ballerina, and the pair came on stage on citron's fluty cue. As if jasmine were a collection of beautiful paintings, beet hung it in the galleries of the nose, insured it against fire or theft, threw a party to celebrate it. Citron mailed the invitations." Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins p. 189
What I am loving right now: Shalimar vintage extrait, Chanel Bois des Iles, Chanel no. 22, Le Labo Iris 39, Guerlain Iris Ganache
Who can tell me more about Schiaperelli's Shocking? My mother had the dressmaker's form bottle with a shocking pink screw top from before I was born. The way she used perfume, I wouldn't be surprised if was the original 1937 stock. I was only a little boy (maybe 1955?) when I smelled it and I think I still vaguely remember it.
Can anyone characterize it for me? I think it had patchouli, honey notes, civet, and I don't remember what else. Is it still sold? The same?
MICHAEL STORER fine niche perfumery for the individualist
What a truly great friend you are. I really enjoyed the post, and actually read it twice!
I was also pleased to see that she chose one of my favorite scents. I love Shocking, and wear it frequently.
How sweet of you to buy it for her. She'll smell divine on her wedding day.
"Woe to the one who's love of elixirs, grows into madness"