Everyone knows about Harrods. When it comes to the world’s top department stores, the luxurious London establishment is right up there with Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdale’s. You’re probably less familiar, however, with the store’s best-kept secret — Roja Dove Haute Parfumerie. Located amid the Urban Retreat, the 22,000-square-foot spa on Harrods’ fifth floor, the parfumerie offers the ultimate personal shopping experience — a consultation to help you discover your perfect fragrance. Whether you’re looking for a new scent and don’t know where to start or want to learn more about the ancient art of perfumery, a half-hour with the Roja Dove team will help.
British perfumer Roja Dove founded the parfumerie in 2004, and though it has spawned plenty of imitations, there’s nothing quite like the luxury of the original. Delicate bottles of scent from the likes of crystal-maker Lalique and Grossmith, an English perfume house founded in 1835, are displayed on black lacquer cabinets and reflected in highly polished glass. Stocking only all-natural scents from niche, independent perfume houses, it is the place to come if you want something different from the mass-marketed fragrances.
Consultations take place in a booth with velveteen banquettes and a mirror-topped table. The 30-minute session begins with an explanation of the three most important fragrance families: floral, chypre and Oriental. Having picked a classic example of each, the consultant asks you to inhale each scent deeply before switching among them to bring out the different notes. As you do so, the consultant describes what you smell in the same way that a sommelier would do with a glass of wine.
After taking note of your response to these scents, the consultant conducts a sort of informal therapy session. You’ll name some perfumes you love, list your favorite season of the year and describe your personal style. More perfumes are selected, along with a collection of richly perfumed room candles, all of which are wafted in front of your nose before being eliminated one by one. By the end, you feel immersed in a cloud of fragrance rich enough to match the glamorous décor that surrounds you.
At the end of the process, two remaining perfumes are sprayed onto each wrist and left to settle while the consultant tells you about your unique fragrance profile and the particular scents that have been chosen. If you want to take one of them home — and you will — the £75 (about US$116) consultation fee is redeemable against any subsequent purchase.
Photos courtesy of Roja Dove Haute Parfumerie