The Scent Critic doesn’t quite know how Roja Dove has secured some of the raciest fragrance names ever for his signature creations, but Danger is the latest in a line of brilliant light-the-blue-touch-paper-and-retire titles emblazoned across his naughty purple labels.
First came Reckless, Scandal, Unspoken and Enslaved – the last of which pretty much sums up how journalists are, in relation to the professeur de parfums, and why we refer to him so flipping often. There probably isn’t a perfume ‘anorak’ on the planet who knows more, or gives better quote. If he could but clone himself…
Actually, Danger probably isn’t my No. 1 of Roja’s signature creations. (I’m seriously fond of Scandal. Albeit not in a News of the World way…) But his scents are always noteworthy: to me, they have the allure of legendary long-lost vintage fragrances (this is a man whose own collection of historic perfumes is probably unrivalled outside the Osmothèque), but with a modern spin. Danger is the airiest yet: bright-as-a-button from first eau de parfum spritz, with a see-thru burst of classic, fresh-squeezed, undeniably Mitsouko-esque citrus grove topnotes.
He’s borrowed a touch of peach from Mitsouko, too, for Danger’s heart. (Nothing wrong with that; it’s a scent that both he and I happen to be eternally – yes – enslaved to, with good reason.) To be honest, it’s this middle phase that’s just not me: seriously floriferous, certain to seduce a white-flower-wearer – and I’m not one, really. It’s propped up by the traditional pillars of jasmine and rose, with a sweet-breath kiss of violet and an if-it’s-good-enough-for-Chanel-it’s-good-enough-for-Roja ylang-ylang hit. At this point I also, strangely, get almonds, maybe a nibble of marzipan, and a slight damp, green tinge, beckoning like Little Red Riding Hood’s grandmother, forest-wards…
However – I can’t deny it – I am also slightly distracted by a subtle metallic quality… This is going to sound seriously bonkers, but pour moi, it’s ‘essence de filing cabinet’! (I went and sniffed my own filing cabinet, to be certain that I’m not just ready for the men in white coats here… But this, you see, demonstrates the real bewitchment of perfumery: with a different body chemistry you may not encounter that metallic/almond moment at all…)
Anyway, in the blink of an eye, the quiver of a nostril, it’s gone again, and I’m tumbling into the sensual embrace of the base notes which are much more up my boulevard. Scrumptious licks of vanilla and tonka bean, with (my money’s on white) musk. I’m well-known to be a sucker for patchouli and sandalwood, too, which is spiced here with a happily un-dentisty rub of clove. Around it swirls a sort of iris nebula, so the overall lingering effect is soft as a baby’s bottom. Or, which is probably more Roja, a courtesan’s inner thigh…
With this heavy mob hanging around in the base, it’s no surprise that Danger has serious tenacity: spray it in the morning (and it’s airy enough for that), and it’ll be accompanying you to dinner, in a much subtler form. You could also layer one of Roja’s more OTT creations over this, for a dinner date, and there’d be no disharmony. And like all of those, Danger is seriously sophisticated. It’s a Bentley, not a BMW; a tiara, not a lapel pin; a villa in Cannes, not a gite in Brittany. He knows his clients (pilgrims to his fifth floor Haute Parfumerie, in Harrods) inside-out, and how to push their buttons so that before they know it, they’re pushing his. (On the credit card machine…)
Personally I’d say this is the most ‘youthful’ Roja Dove to date. Danger’s predecessors are dark, mysterious and full of shady nooks, but this is (mostly) delightfully drenched in spring sunshine, for The Scent Critic. ‘Rich, powdery and semi-oriental’, Roja’s tagged it – but The Scent Critic begs to position it as slightly more lightweight (and probably more wearable, for a lot of women).
But – the $64,000 question – dangerous…? Not freefall-parachuting dangerous, or driving-on-an-Indian-highway-dangerous, or adulterous-affair-with-a-handsome-stranger dangerous, I wouldn’t say. But if your idea of peril is to flirt lightly over a glass of Ruinart with someone who isn’t your husband, or gamble £100 on a horse at Goodwood just because you like its name, or paint the front door of your Grade-II listed house shocking pink, probably quite excitingly dangerous enough for you to have a little fling with.
Just don’t say you weren’t warned.