Friday, 11 June 2010
City Shopping Feature: London Part II: Roja Dove Haute Perfumerie
Twice I have visited London, and twice I have been delighted at how many random people on the street simply smell fabulous. As I meander through the throng around Victoria station or through the posh laneways surrounding Bond Street, it feels as though every few meters I turn on my heel to inhale the fragrant molecules suspended around me as I stroll through some anonymous person's sillage. London is a wondrous destination for perfume lovers, and you would be doing yourself an injustice if not taking an excursion to the Roja Dove Haute Perfumerie on the top floor of Harrods in Knightsbridge.
If you can fight your way past the clueless sales assistants wielding glazed expressions and pre-spritzed blotters on the ground floor and head for the escalators, you will soon see that the cream always rises to the top as you push through the heavy glass doors and enter the opulent environs of the Roja Dove retreat on level 5. On the day of my visit, I was greeted warmly by manager Annette Nejad whose sincere welcome set the tone for my visit. The walls of the retreat are painted a dramatic midnight black, and recessed halogens pick out the faceted faces of a hundred twinkling flacons; some housed in airtight vitrines, and others under hand-blown vintage domes. For the fragrance aficionado, this space is a treasure trove of stunning vintage artifacts and one can't help but marvel at rare and precious pieces from Roja Dove's personal perfume collection that are dotted around the store.
Annette will allow you all the time in the world to explore their fragrant inventory, but when asked about a particular perfume, she or one of the in-house fragrance experts will offer a wealth of fascinating information, as one might expect of such an establishment. Boasting arguably the most substantial niche perfume collection in London, as well as the exclusive fragrance trio that bear the Roja Dove name: Scandal, Unspoken and Enslaved, the Roja Dove Haute Perfumerie caters to a clientele with an appreciation of perfume that is a head and shoulders above the norm. "Being located on the top floor of Harrods and tucked away behind the Urban Retreat, we recognize that when someone walks through the doors of the Roja Dove Haute Perfumery, they have sought us out specifically", says Manager Annette. "Our selection and service represents the pinnacle of Haute Perfumerie".
We talk for a long while and Annette and assistant Miles walk me through a number of exclusive and almost-unheard-of fragrant releases, each of which have been hand-selected by Roja Dove himself as being unique or innovative in some way. I find the conversation to be totally engrossing and whilst glancing at my watch, am shocked to find almost 40 minutes have elapsed since first stepping into the store. With hesitation, I announce that I must press on, but prolong my departure a little more to engage in some more fascinating discourse, and sniff at some more extraordinary blotters.
On a previous visit to the Haute Perfumerie I purchased the "Essence of Perfume" book. With lovely images from Roja Dove's personal collection, and interesting narratives on key historical perfume releases, I can personally recommend it.
In addition, the Haute Perfumerie offers one-on-one personal consultations to assist you in finding a new sensory soul-mate.
More details on Roja Dove and the Perfumerie's services can be found on the Harrods Urban Retreat website.