Bortnikoff‘s Chypre du Nord is a modern twist on the traditional chypre formulation and structure. While it contains oakmoss, amber, and citrus, it lacks the floral and patchouli components which are also standard technical parts of the classical style established in the early 1900s by Coty and Guerlain. Instead, Siberian deer musk, nutmeg, birch tar leather, and Mitsouko-style peach abound. Let’s take a deeper look.
When I was in my 20s, one of my signature fragrances was Hermès‘ 24 Faubourg, an opulent chypre-oriental powerhouse created by the legendary Maurice Roucel. It was centered on luminous, creamy, heady florals which Monsieur Roucel sheathed, first, in multifaceted mossy chypre greenness laced with peach, then in oriental clouds of golden amber layered with real sandalwood, creamy vanilla, spicy resins, and a sliver of leatheriness. The fragrance feels like the more feminine, white floral cousin of Hermes‘ 1984 floral-leather-chypre, Parfum d’Hermes (reformulated and renamed in 2000 as Hermes’ Rouge) and Puredistance M (directly modeled on Hermes‘ 1986 vintage Bel Ami) during their middle chypre-oriental stages. The eau de parfum version even has a phase which is like a white floral twist on the 1930s-1970s version of vintage Mitsouko extrait. On top of that, vintage 24 Faubourg also inhabits the same world of rich chypre-florals as Givenchy‘s famous 1984 Ysatis, although the Hermes scent has a greater oriental underpinning and I would argue that it is much grander. Its richness, heaviness, and ornate complexity not only result in a very baroque regalness, but also somehow manage to ooze money and wealth in the most tasteful, elegant way imaginable. That may be why 24 Faubourg became the signature scent of the most glamorous princess of her era.
One of the best fragrances that I’ve tried this year is Siberian Musk by Areej Le Doré, which is the fragrance arm of Feel Oud‘s Russian Adam. A kaleidoscopic scent, it starts as a head-turning chypre with such a lavish greenness of spirit that it evoked not only fragrances like Chypre Palatin but, more importantly, vintage days long since lost. From there, it slowly transitions into a floral oriental with a strong kinship to the glorious vintage Bal à Versailles, a fruity floral vetiver, a smoky woody-oud oriental, and a sexy, cozy, inviting amber-musk that’s flecked by honeyed floral sweetness.
A central vein of deer musk runs throughout it all. While it varies in its animalics and intensity, it never rises to the level of some of the more famous (or infamous) animalic fragrances, like MAAI, Montecristo, or Muscs Koublai Khan on my skin. Some of the time, it simply evokes an expensive fur coat infused with vintage perfume, musky velvet, or even heated, musky, suede-like skin. But all of the time, it adds a very sensual and sexy touch to a glamorous, opulent, and sophisticated fragrance.
Superb, opulent, and one of the best fragrances that I’ve smelt in years. That’s the nutshell synopsis for Roja Dove‘s Roja Haute Luxe, a truly head-turning and jaw-dropping chypre-oriental with such beauty and multi-faceted magnificence that I didn’t know what to do with myself at times, unable to do anything beyond sniff with stunned awe and think, “this is what fragrances should be, what they were meant to be.”
I don’t think I can describe just how beautiful Roja Haute Luxe is without it sounding like inane hyperbole, but it is one of those fragrances that feels like a privilege to try, a once-in-a-lifetime experience for most of us. I’d heard about it, descriptions that were usually accompanied with figurative gasps or literal raves, but I didn’t really believe them. Not really. For one thing, Roja Dove’s other hugely acclaimed perfume, Diaghilev, while opulent and complex, had done little for me personally, never once moved me deeply, and never left me wishing I owned it.
For another, I think it’s difficult to comprehend the sheer breadth and scope of Roja Haute Luxe’s extravagant magnificence until one tries it for oneself. It’s not the easiest scent to sample, but I had the opportunity when one of my readers, “Kevin,” asked me to review it last month and generously offered to send me some from his own bottle. After much hesitation, I agreed on the condition that he wouldn’t become personally offended or deeply outraged if I hated it. After all, “beauty” is in the eye (or nose) of the beholder, and could it really be that good? Well, as it turns out, Roja Haute Luxe really is that good. In fact, I thought it was exceptional, in the proper, full sense of that word.