Roja Dove Goodman’s

Bergdorf Goodman on Fifth Avenue. Source:

Bergdorf Goodman on Fifth Avenue. Source:

Smoky vetiver and spiced woods lie at the heart of Goodman’s, Roja Dove‘s creation for the New York luxury department store, Bergdorf Goodman. It’s a pure parfum that ostensibly embodies the luxury and sophistication of the men’s section of the store. I must say, I can’t see it — and I’ve lived in New York (twice) and am very familiar with Bergdorf Goodman. Not only does Goodman’s not evoke either the store or “sensual,” luxurious richness for me, but I find it to be a deeply disappointing release by the standards I have for Roja Dove.

Bergdorf Goodman's men store. Photo by Stephen Siegel at

Bergdorf Goodman’s men store. Photo by Stephen Siegel at

Goodman’s was released in 2014, along with a parallel version for the women’s section of the store called Bergdorf’s. Both extraits were originally available only from the store itself, but Roja Dove now offers them on his website along with other exclusives like the UAE fragrance that he created solely for the Emirates. Oddly, the colour of the liquid in the Goodman’s bottle he shows on his website is significantly paler than the one shown by Bergdorf Goodman.

Goodman's with its richly coloured liquid and black cap. Source: Bergdorf Goodman website.

Goodman’s with its richly coloured liquid on the Bergdorf Goodman website.

On his website, Roja Dove describes Goodman’s and its notes as follows:

“The Exclusive Scent of Goodman’s – Bergdorf Goodman’s Men’s Store”

“Asked to create a fragrance for Goodman’s, the men’s home of the iconic world-famous store, Bergdorf Goodman, I have tried to capture that special mix of sophistication, excitement, and pure luxury. I hope my Goodman’s fragrance delivers all the hallmarks of the store; exclusive, refined, and very New York”. Roja Dove

A significantly paler perfume in the photo on the Roja Parfums website.

The much paler liquid in the photo on the Roja Parfums website.

TOP: Bergamot, Mandarin
HEART: Jasmine, Neroli, Rose, Ylang Ylang
BASE: Cardamom, Castoreum, Cedarwood, Cinnamon, Civet, Coriander, Frankincense, Musk, Patchouli, Vetiver.

On a totally tangential point, the fact that the perfume’s proper name is in possessive form creates a certain grammatical awkwardness; I can hardly say Goodman’s’s or Goodman’s’ in describing some element of its aroma. So I hope you’ll forgive me for avoiding additional possessives, and sticking simply to “Goodman’s” regardless of context. I know you’ll get the point.

"Storyboards," painting by Elizabeth Chapman. Source: (Website link embedded within.)

“Storyboards,” painting by Elizabeth Chapman. Source: (Website link embedded within.)

Roja Dove classifies Goodman’s as a chypre, but I would call it a quasi-chypre with strong oriental facets. It opens on my skin with bergamot, mandarin, and smokiness, sprinkled with drops of jasmine sweetness, civet, and custardy ylang-ylang, all atop a darkly wooded, smoky base that feels slick with balsamic resins and musky with slightly leathered castoreum. Quickly, the florals retreat to the sidelines to hover in abstract form, and their place is taken by a heavy cloud of spices dominated above all else by cinnamon. It smells multi-faceted: there is the dryness of its wooded bark; the dried powdered sticks that you have in your kitchen cabinet; and there is even a sense of fresh, aromatic cinnamon leaves. 

Cinnamon tree bark. Source:

Cinnamon tree bark. Source:

The balance of notes in the opening minutes differs slightly from one of my arms to the next. My right one has a bouquet that is centered predominantly on tart bergamot, cinnamon, dry cinnamon bark, slightly lemon coriander, and dusty, semi-sweet cardamom in a thick blanket atop a bitter, Seville-like orange laced with green neroli, cedar, spicy patchouli, and a resinous, sticky, balsamic sweetness. The castoreum is imperceptible, though it peeks out occasionally from behind the spicy, sweet, orange wall, along with an occasional glimmer of civet. There are no florals, no smokiness, and the woodiness is not strong. The main bouquet is a visual of reds, oranges, and browns that is dominated primarily by the two types of cinnamon and a slightly sticky, bitter orange. I’m constantly reminded of a cinnamon-cardamom bitter marmalade, only this one isn’t cloyingly sweet and is brisk with neroli and lemon, then endlessly spicy, woody, and resinous. It’s wonderful.

Photo: my own.

Photo: my own.

On the other arm, however, there is no sense of bitter Seville bigarade, and the focus is less oriental, more traditional, woody, and leathered with a chypre-like bouquet that is centered on citrus-floral accords atop a woody, castoreum base, all infused with smokiness and civet. The spices are quite secondary, if not tertiary, and hazily mixed in an amorphous cloud; there isn’t much sweetness, and almost no juicy mandarin; but the woodiness, smokiness, and leathered castoreum are all substantially stronger. Once the florals retreat to the sidelines — a quick thing that takes only a few minutes — Goodman’s becomes drier. It’s a mix that is strongly woody, masculine, smoky, a touch crisp, but not hugely sweet or spicy. It’s a masculine-skewing scent that briefly conjures images of men in leather jackets and silk scarves, a kind of chic racer, more than a banker, if that makes any sense.

Photo: My own.

Photo: My own.

The proportions of the individual elements may initially vary from one arm to the next, but it only takes 10 minutes for them to align roughly into the same scent. The main reason is due to the vetiver which suddenly surges forth to become one of the key parts of Goodman’s on both arms. It smells a bit minty, but it is primarily very smoky and woody, as though the cedar and smoke had fully merged into it.

Speaking of the smokiness, it never smells to me like “incense,” neither frankincense nor myrrh. Rather, it smells more like the sort of smoke that you’d get from cade or perhaps birch tar. It’s as though a burnt log had been slathered with tarry pitch, drizzled with lemons, and then set on fire. The smoky aroma which ensues has been captured and fully subsumed within Goodman’s vetiver, along with the very dry cedar. It’s true that vetiver can smell smoky in its own right, but the aroma here is woodier in nature and much more like cade. In any event, it’s really impossible to separate out the two elements, but nothing in Goodman’s smells like the “incense” sort of smokiness, and it never did throughout either of my two tests of the perfume.



Other changes occur in tandem on both arms, too. The spices all meld together into an indistinguishable haze and take on a dusty quality. There were times in one of my tests when the spice mix felt so dusty that it evoked images of the dusty residue inside an antique spice cabinet made from centuries-old cedar. Sometimes, the accord smelled like lemony dust (perhaps a side-effect of the coriander); sometimes, it smelled like spiced staleness; but it was generally just a blur of spiced woodiness with nuances of dustiness.

As the spices lose shape and pleasantness, the mandarin disappears, but both the bergamot and civet grow stronger. The latter smells synthetic, thin, lemony, and sharp. The tiniest pops of rose appear in the background once in a blue moon, but the florals are a strange element in Goodman’s. For the most part, they’re really just a ghostly presence, a sweetness that is vaguely floral in nature, possibly like jasmine, but always the smallest of wisps with a character that is very muted, abstract, and impossible to separate out.

Photo: my own.

Photo: my own.

All of these things are secondary or tertiary elements to Goodman’s main bouquet which, 20 minutes into its development, is primarily a mix of smoky, cade-infused vetiver with dry, spiced woods and sharp, citrusy bergamot-civet atop a quietly musky base. The three strands make up roughly 85% of Goodman’s scent. My skin frequently amplifies vetiver, in addition to accentuating its minty facets, so it is the vetiver which often dominates the trio but not always. At lot of the times, everything feels melded together, and you could argue that it is a seamless blending but, honestly, it doesn’t feel that way for a good portion of the opening 90 minutes.

To me, Goodman’s feels heavy-handed. The various notes take turns thwacking you in the face from the smokiness to the woods, the vetiver, and sometimes the dusty spice mix. The equation is lopsided, and the main notes don’t feel smoothly integrated. They stick out askew, as though they were at 90-degree angles to the rest of the scent. On both occasions when I tested Goodman’s, I couldn’t shake the impression that it had been hastily cobbled together. There isn’t the sense of fine-tuning and the sure-footed, careful, very deliberate craftsmanship that mark all the other Roja scents. Goodman’s feels more modern than many of those, but the core notes feel clumsy, jarring, and rough — both individually and together.

Art by: LordmOth on Deviant Art. (Click on photo for website link embedded within.)

Art by: LordmOth on Deviant Art. (Click on photo for website link embedded within.)

It is particularly true of the opening phase, but less of an issue for the rest of Goodman’s development because the main three notes become all there is. In essence, the supporting notes fade away after 75 minutes, and the scent turns into a simple mix of very dry, spiced woods and smoky vetiver infused with fluctuating amounts of citrus. Sometimes, the woodiness takes the lead, sometimes it’s the vetiver. Occasionally, the woody note smells smoky as well, but generally it is mixed with an abstract spice accord that bears vestiges of dustiness and staleness. In one of my tests, the start of the 4th hour brought about a streak of harshly synthetic, wooded smokiness in the base that smelled like cypriol with a bit of a chemical-smelling fake “oud.”



For the most part, though, Goodman’s merely smelt of different forms of woodiness mixed with smoky vetiver, abstract spiciness, and a hint of civety citrus. That’s really it for the rest of Goodman’s development on my skin, and it is the most linear, simplistic, and boring of all the Roja Dove fragrances that I’ve tried. As the hours pass, it merely turns woodier and more abstract. In its final moments, it was merely a wisp of dry woodiness with a hint of smokiness.

Goodman’s has good projection that is initially very strong, and good longevity. Using 3 squirts from my atomizer, equal to 2 sprays from an actual bottle, the perfume opened with 4 inches of projection that rapidly grew to about 6 inches after a few minutes and left a definite scent trail. The projection dropped to 3 inches after 2 hours, then to about 1.5 inches after 3.5 hours. It stayed there for a while and Goodman’s only turned into a skin scent on me after 6 hours, though it was still easy to smell up close for a while. All in all, the perfume lasted just a hair over 12.5 hours.

There aren’t many reviews for Goodman’s. The perfume has no Fragrantica page, and a Basenotes thread on the scent has not a single description of how it smells. The only review I’ve found comes from The Scented Hound who generally likes it. He writes:

Goodman’s opens with a rich and deep bergamot and cedar, quickly followed by a spiced mandarin. The cedar retreats quickly to make room for this incredible jasmine. It’s warm and lush and it feels like you’re walking (or should I say sinking in) on deep piled carpet. The florals are heady while still maintaining a masculine edge of rounded and achingly beautiful thickness. I love my florals and this bouquet meets all my standards of what a good floral mix should be comprised of; rounded, voluminous, mixed and blended to perfection so that you can’t see distinguish one floral note from another. There’s also a rather buttery tone that the florals rest on which after around 10 minutes lightens and retreats as do the heady aspects of the florals. [¶]

This makes way for a more woody timbre with the vetiver taking center stage in concert with an herbal and slightly peppery finish. Soon enough, as if a fog has started to creep in, the frankincense starts to appear very lightly from below. What started off as full on traditional floral is now taking a more exotic turn as the frankincense then becomes front and center. The woody and dry patchouli mixed with the incense renders the fragrance to an almost powdery consistency. I am amazed by the fragrance’s transformation; it feels as if you are making the descent from a temperate and fertile elevation down to a more dramatically arid zone in the space of 30 minutes. Goodman’s then takes on a more sober and formal turn as the fragrance settles into quiet dignity with a warmish patchouli and vetiver with streams of incense weaving throughout. That, combined with just an ever so slight sweetness and a bite of civet, lets you know that although the perfume is dignified, there’s still a bit of mischief that abounds. [Paragraph formatting break added by me.]

Well, I agree on how Goodman’s changes sharply 30 minutes after the opening, and on the “dramatically arid” quality that arrives along with the vetiver and “incense” for the main part of the scent. On the rest, I have to part ways with my friend.

I’ve reviewed quite a number of Roja Dove scents by now, and generally write that the brand’s high price becomes a question of individual valuation because all the scents have complexity, character, high-quality, luxuriousness, depth, and nuance. When you have those requisite elements, then whether or not something is “worth it” will depend on the person. In the case of Goodman’s, I strongly believe most of those requisites are absent and the perfume is whoppingly over-priced for what it is. It costs $545 or £395 for 50 ml of parfum.



This perfume is not good enough to be $545, in my opinion, either in terms of its character, its development, or its quality. It devolves quickly into a simplistic, uninteresting, generic bouquet and it doesn’t feel like high-end luxury to me. The Roja Parfums signature of graceful elegance with seamless, masterful blending and complex development is woefully absent. Goodman’s feels clumsy and rough, like a bull in the proverbial china shop or, in this case, in Bergdorf Goodman. I cannot help but feel it was hastily cobbled together. It is a whispered rumour in the perfume world that Roja Parfums are secretly created by a Robertet nose, not actually Roja Dove, but whomever made this scent, it does not feel like the same hand who created things like Enigma (Creation E), Risqué (Creation R), M, Danger, Fetish, Diaghilev, (pre-reformulation) Nuwa, or the others.

Perhaps it’s simply a question of the brand putting out too many perfumes a year. In 2014, Fragrantica says Roja Dove released Nuwa, H Aoud (the Harrods exclusive), at least two extraits (Lily, Amber), and the UAE exclusive, in addition to Bergdorf’s and Goodman’s. That’s 7 fragrances in one year. Out of those, I’ve only tried Nuwa which I loved (and which I’m saddened to hear has been dramatically altered for the worse), but Goodman’s feels like it suffered from production demands and insufficient development time.

Whatever the precise reason for its clumsy, cloddish nature and its rapid dissolution into an overly simplified, generic bouquet, the bottom line is that it’s a dull fragrance. Sure, a man could enjoy its masculine woodiness and perhaps feel elegant in it, but I expect more from Roja Parfums for $545. There are any number of elegant scents that are substantially more interesting and nuanced for significantly less. Yet, even if Goodman’s cost a fraction of the amount, the simple truth is that I wouldn’t want to smell of it. It had some unpleasant parts, it was mediocre, and it also bored me into a state of apathetic disinterest where I kept thinking of all the other fragrances I could be wearing. Being boring may be the worst sin of them all.

Cost & Availability: Goodman’s only comes as a pure parfum in a 50 ml/1.7 oz size that costs $545 or £395. It is sold exclusively at Bergdorf Goodman and the Roja Parfums website. SamplesSurrender to Chance has Goodman’s starting at $6.99 for a 1/4 ml vial.

21 thoughts on “Roja Dove Goodman’s

  1. I really appreciate your honesty, Kafka!! I have to admit, as someone who grew up in NY, the name of this scent is just wrong. Sorry, there is no “Goodman’s.” There’s Bergdorf’s. Or Bergdorf Goodman. “Goodman’s” was the name of a homey bakery I grew up going to and “the Goodmans” were at least one family I knew.

    So, making something of the second name alone? In this native New Yawker’s mind, it was bound to fail.

    Maybe this is a silly point. Of course it is, but. . .

    • Yeah, none of my highschool classmates and, later on, adult friends ever said anything but “Bergdorf’s.” Still, name semantics are the least of the issues with this $545 scent.

      • True enough. I can’t help thinking, though, that such a nothing & overpriced fragrance comes from an ill-conceived idea that is obviously aimed at those who could say “Goodman’s” without any sense that, oh no, it’s not right (and therefore, arrivistes, but of course, that’s who it’s aimed at, not old New Yawkers).

        I mean, who wants to wear Goodman’s? The name conjures up rye bread, women with hairnets, and old fashioned bakery boxes tied with string. . .a good memory, but not one that works for a $545 men’s fragrance. But of course, my comments are but a silly digression. . .

        Though. . .one does have to wonder who the companies *are* thinking about when they make these overpriced fragrances. The bottom line is that a perfume at this price point is a status symbol, and a very personal one at that, because one doesn’t wear it on one’s sleeve or step into it and drive around. Others don’t know (usually) that you are wearing it. The companies & perfumers create a fantasy, an idea, and increasingly seem not to have the actual juice live up to that. Because of that, there’s a sense (to me, at least) that they know they’re selling to rubes who can’t tell the difference between what’s good and what’s the same ol’ same ol’. Kind of like bottling box wine in bottles marked Chateaux Margaux 2.0.

    • Welcome to the blog, Peteraitch. 🙂 As I wrote in the review, I haven’t tried the UAE exclusive but a friend is going to try to send me a sample from Dubai. I’m looking forward to it, and your words add to that. Plus, I suspect I fall more within the UAE’s target audience in terms of taste preferences and style than the American one which Goodman’s aims for, but the UAE’s use of wormwood gives me a moment’s pause. It’s not one of my favorite notes. How is it on your skin in terms of the overall composition?

      • For me this one is all about the balanced composition. Very smooth blend where different notes are distinguishable but the overall effect is one of harmony and balance. Super easy to wear and enjoy. I have no idea why Doves have to be so darn expensive. But I think UAE is refined and appealing enough to (almost, kinda) justify the nutty price.

        • That’s great to hear, Peter (if I may call you that), about the UAE. How you describe the balance in the composition while simultaneously having some clarity in terms of individual notes is precisely one of the things that I value or think is important in perfumery. Overly hazy scents where the notes go beyond seamless and turn into a totally indistinguishable blur isn’t a good thing, imo. At the same time, harmony is very critical.

          The Roja Dove scents almost always provide that careful balance, which is why I was so struck by this one. After my review, two friends wrote to me that they had a similar sense of the Goodman’s; both are Roja fans (and one is in the perfume industry), so they’re not usually disappointed in the line. Perhaps Goodman’s suffered from creating for a particular sort of audience or perhaps it was an issue of too many fragrances a year, but this is one where the price was very hard for me to justify. I’m glad to hear that the UAE one is more worth it.

          Thank you for letting me know how it was on you.

  2. I should look for my sample. I actually liked this one although it definitely skewed masculine. It was very warm and very spicy on me. Oh, and I think I am a birch tar junkie.

    • Good enough for $545, my sweet? If so, then great. I’m happy you’ve found a fragrance you love that much. 🙂

      • I somehow found myself at Bergdorf’s yesterday, placed a hold on JAR Golconda (which they did not have on hand and could be a few weeks before one can be delivered — come on, if Abdes Salaam Attar could get a package to me by the 2nd day after I placed an order, surely behemonth Bergdorfs could have a shipment muled from Paris to New York in 8 hours!). Anyway, I digressed. So I smelled Creation-R (not meh, just eh), Goodman’s (mmmm, WARM! SPICY! LOVE! but not the price), Aoud/Musk Aoud (just OK) and then I looked at the top shelf and saw Nuwa, which I recoiled from at Sniffapalooza last year due to the over the top in a bad way cumin, and thought, let me smell it again….well, I fell in love with it — it had been reformulated to defang the cumin, but the price is double that of Goodman’s so that’s not happening either. Still looking at that top shelf, I saw the gold flecked Roja which was a whopping $3,500! Of course I had to smell this $1,060 per oz. perfume with real gold flakes and guess what? I am now obsessed with how I can acquire some without breaking the bank!

        • Haha, you’re a mad woman, Hajusuuri. Golconda *and* the most crazily-priced Roja of them all. I can only laugh and admire you. BRAVO! Let me know if you have to resort to breaking the bank or find a way around it.

      • Wait a minute! Was there a price decrease on Roja? I didn’t mention above but I also smelled Goodnight Kiss and it was quite good – make-up powdery although I think I will stick with the comparatively bargain-priced Chanel Misia!

        • No, no price decrease. That’s how much the Roja was with the currency conversion from the £2500 UK price when it launched and before it hit the U.S. I never bothered to check its US price afterwards. £2500 was enough for me. So is the $3500 you quoted now.

  3. I agree with the poster who mentioned calling it Goodman’s is weird. I know that’s not particularly important, but it’s sort of…bizarre? Disarming? Just seems like a weird oversight to call a perfume named after a world famous store something that no one knows that store as (even though the reference is fairly obvious). Like calling a perfume Harrod or something.

    At any rate, Roja Dove hasn’t done a lot for me thus far and that’s completely ignoring the price element. This sounds no different. Diaghilev has been the one offering I’d consider, but not at the price it demands. C’est la vie!

    • Apparently, there has been some relatively recent media/print campaign to emphasize “Goodman’s” over the last year or so, and I was told that it has helped to make the name more prominent so that some people supposedly *do* refer to the men’s store as “Goodman’s” now. Whatever, it will always be Bergdorf’s to me and, clearly, to some other people here as well. lol.

  4. Another great review! I also found this one to be most disappointing, especially when compared to the quality of the rest of the line. A quick question for you, if I may:

    Are you planning on reviewing any more Roja Dove fragrances that have been previously released? In particular, I’d love to read your take on Reckless Pour Homme and Musk Aoud.

    • I don’t have samples of those 2 but I have samples of 4 of the Extraits. I have to space out the Roja Dove reviews, as not everyone is keen on such expensive fragrances or has access to them. I also try to constantly ensure a balance not only in terms of cost, but the perfume genres, gender focus, and brands I cover from week to week. 🙂 So, I won’t be covering Roja Dove again for at least another 10 days or so.

      • No worries at all. I understand how many might be put off by the high price tag.

        I shall anxiously await more reviews from the line, however long the wait. If you are ever interested in reviewing those two, I’d be happy to sponsor your Osswald samples. Your reviews are always exquisite! 🙂

        Although…. Although, they are sometimes quite hard on my wallet, your Chypre Palatin review being a prime example ;). It’s hard to tell if I truly love that fragrance or if I love it because you love it. Ah, the wondrous power of the written word.

        • That’s a hugely kind and very thoughtful offer, NeoXerxes, and I’m touched. Thankfully for your wallet, Josie at Osswald would be happy to send me samples of those two, should I need them. The thing is just to get through the ones I have first, not to mention samples from other brands that she’s sent. I have at least several Parfumerie Generale that she’s sent, the new Elisire line, and 4 from MDCI that I’m hoping to tackle at some point, in addition to 3 more MDCI samples of my own. I may end up doing a brief MDCI series just to tackle that lot, but, again, I have to also spread things out and not oversaturate readers with too much of one brand so… it’s a jugglinng act.

          Speaking of MDCI, I’m so glad to hear you love Chypre Palatin. It’s such a glorious scent. (Amusingly enough, it’s become my mother’s new signature fragrance.) The fact that you love it bodes well for your liking for spicy patchouli, because there is quite a lot of it on my skin (as well as my mother’s). From what I’ve briefly tested thus far from the MDCI line, I think it may be one of their very best releases because some of the others are not as appealing or masterful.

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