Roja Dove Fetish (Woman)

Succumb To Your Desires.

Fetish for women in pure parfum extrait.

Fetish for women in pure parfum extrait.

That is what Roja Dove tells you when he talks about Fetish, his line of chypre-leather fragrances. Yesterday, we explored the men’s version of Fetish Extrait, and, while it didn’t awaken any desires in me, I certainly concede that it is a leather scent. However, I’m wholly unconvinced on that matter when it comes to Fetish for Women (also in pure parfum Extrait form). There was nothing remotely leathered about this white floral chypre on my skin.

On his Roja Parfums website, after he’s ordered you to succumb to your desires, Roja Dove offers the following description for Fetish:

WARM, DRY, FRESH, SWEET, & LEATHERY

“Nothing is darker than leather in all its guises. Beware once you have entered there is no escape, as I have created a perfume that once under its spell there is no return”. Roja Dove

INGREDIENTS

TOP: Bergamot

HEART: Jasmine, Rose, Tuberose, Ylang Ylang

BASE: Castoreum, Cedarwood, Cinnamon, Clove, Galbanum, Musk, Oakmoss, Patchouli, Vetiver

Galbanum

Galbanum

Fetish for Women Extrait (hereinafter just “Fetish“) opens on my skin with galbanum sweetened by jasmine. It’s a combination of great crispness, freshness, and greenness, but without the usual pungent froideur, distance, and iciness that I typically find with galbanum. The ingredient’s sharp edge and unapproachability render it something that I often struggle with, but here, it’s very different. The jasmine adds a fragrant sweetness and warmth, while the galbanum keeps the usually indolic, sometimes heavy flower quite crisp, clean, and green. There is the faintest trickle of jasmine’s sweet syrupy nature lurking underneath, but it’s always kept in check and balance. 

Photo: my own.

Photo: my own.

On the heels of the two main notes is the oakmoss. It feels simultaneously pungent and mineralized, but also a wee bit plush, fresh, and lightly sweetened. In Fetish’s middle layer, hints of dry, woody vetiver and slightly sweet, green patchouli round out the tableau of variegated greens. The one exception to the colour spectrum are the flickers of aldehydic soapiness that dart about. In Fetish’s depths, there are elements of tuberose and extremely dry cedar. Even deeper below, the castoreum briefly stirs. Here, it thankfully lacks the animalic raunchiness or sweaty perianal parts prevalent in Fetish Pour Homme; instead, it merely feels like something velvety brown and soft in the base. A mere drop of animalism, if you will, instead of whole bucketfuls.

For the most part, however, Fetish for Women is primarily a triptych of jasmine, galbanum, and oakmoss on my skin. The degree of each note fluctuates in prominence and strength, but the perfume’s core essence never changes. Not once.

Source: dilei.it

Source: dilei.it

What happens instead is that Fetish goes through a small shrieking period. The galbanum becomes more forceful and incredibly sharp; so, too, does the oakmoss. Something about the two notes in tandem, along with that aldehydic soapiness, consistently creates an almost synthetic sharpness that I find abrasive. I tested Fetish three times, and there is always a brief 20-25 minute period when the jasmine retreats. The loss of its sweetness permits the galbanum’s inherently icy, sharp edge to come out, along with the more fusty, pungent aspects of the oakmoss. I don’t know to what extent the latter may be partially synthetic in nature, but the effect of the overall combination repeatedly causes a tightening sensation in my nose. It’s almost like something verging on sinus pains, but not quite.

"Evernia Prunastri" lichen moss. Source: via supermoss.com

“Evernia Prunastri” lichen moss. Source: via supermoss.com

I want to take a moment to briefly talk about that oakmoss which I suspect is mousse de chene. It is actually a specific type of oakmoss (Evernia prunastri) that is an oakmoss absolute according to The Aroma Connection blog, and, in some people’s eyes, seems to be considered the “true” oakmoss. It’s a grey lichen which grows on trees and has an intensely dank, pungent, fusty aroma that can also be salty and smell like tree bark. Still, “real” oakmoss of any type is largely banned out of perfume existence, and substitutes are often used, either by themselves or as complements to smaller portions of the real thing.

There is a very interesting, detailed, and somewhat technical discussion of the different types of oakmoss on The Aroma Connection, including the various synthetic versions or additives thereto:

we are left with a few synthetic oakmoss chemicals, such as Evernyl (methyl 2-4-dihydroxy-3-6-dimethylbenzoate) and formerly, the less popularly-utilised Orcinyl-3 (3-methoxy-5-methylphenol), which the hype from synthetic aroma chemical producers would try to persuade you ‘represent the essential character compound of oakmoss’.

… It should also be mentioned that a range of commercial oakmoss products exists, some offering a warm, leathery-mossy character, whilst others offer have woody, mossy – almost marine-like aspects.

Here, the oakmoss never has a leather aspect on my skin, but it does have an incredibly sharp character that occasionally smells a little salty and like the bark of a tree. There is a subtle smokiness, but it is mild and overwhelmed by the more pungent, almost acrid characteristics. More importantly for our purposes here, the oakmoss has an undertone that, to me, smells synthetic to me. I don’t react with the equivalent of a sinus headache or pinching otherwise, and it happened to me with both men and women’s versions of Fetish.

On all three occasions with Fetish Woman, the shrieking phase was brief, and never lasted beyond 20-25 minutes, ending about 50 minutes into the perfume’s evolution. Part of the reason why is because the jasmine returns in greater strength to counterbalance the green notes, tame them, and turn them into something less forceful. A Fragrantica commentator described Fetish Pour Homme as being very “shouty,” and I think Fetish for Women has a brief period of the same thing, despite being a considerably softer, tamer fragrance. Actually, “shouty” isn’t so accurate in this case, and a more apt description would be “unbalanced.” Regardless, it’s not a very long period, and Fetish soon calms down.

In fact, it turns a little too mellow and goes too much the opposite extreme. On each occasion where I tested Fetish, a little after one hour, the perfume dropped in sillage, hovered just an inch over the skin, and became a virtual blur of white florals with green notes and oakmoss. By the 90-minute mark, it’s a skin scent.

At times, the oakmoss turns so gentle and muted, it felt like the description that one reader emailed me about with regard to another very oakmossy, green fragrance: “green tea and honey.” To my surprise, the oakmoss in Fetish’s base might truly be described that way from afar. Something about the green accords has the soft, fragrant gentleness of green tea, albeit a very concentrated one that has been infused by a very delicate touch of sweet, white floral syrup. Unfortunately, the somewhat synthetic elements remains, lurking far below, and whenever I take whiffs that are too forceful of my arm, the sharp tightening in my nose returns instantly.

Source: bioloskiblog.wordpress.com

Source: bioloskiblog.wordpress.com

There really isn’t much more to be said about Fetish’s development on my skin. It remains as a blur of white florals atop a chypre base. For a brief period, the jasmine and oakmoss are vaguely distinguishable in their own right, but the notes are generally a haze, overlapping each other, and rarely having any definitive, firm shape. In its final moments, Fetish is merely a nebulous floral smear with something vaguely green about it. All in all, it lasted just over 7.5 hours with 2 large sprays, and a little under 9 hours with double that amount.

I liked Fetish for the most part, but what manifested itself on my skin was also a big disappointment. If I hadn’t been told that this was a “leather” fragrance, I never once would have guessed it. For me, Fetish is exactly and precisely the “floral chypre” that Fragrantica classifies it as on their site. My skin always amplifies base notes, and that includes leather, yet none showed up in any of my 3 tests of the perfume. I was also a little taken aback by the lack of complexity, nuance, and body of the largely simplistic scent that appeared on my skin. Fetish was a perfectly nice — even occasionally lovely — white floral perfume, but nothing more. I’d still enjoy wearing it, however, were it not for the synthetic feel in the base and the fact that it consistently became a skin scent on me between the 60-90 minute range (depending on quantity). For $425 or €395, I expect more. A lot more.

On Fragrantica, the only review for Fetish Woman in extrait version comes from Dubaiscents, a reader and a friend who loves the fragrance. She describes it as “both elegant and feminine but, also tough and a little dirty. One of my all time favorite leather scents!” It sounds infinitely more interesting on her skin than on mine, and I envy her her complex experience. If I had experienced some grit, some toughness, something other than linear two-dimensionality, then perhaps I wouldn’t have been so bored. As it is, I’ve struggled to write this review from sheer lack of inspiration, enthusiasm, and interest. In fact, Fetish bores me so much that I will end this here and now.

DETAILS:
Cost & Availability: The Fetish for Women Pure Parfum is available in a 50 ml/1.7 oz size which costs $435, €395 or £345. In the U.S.: Fetish is available at New York’s Osswald. Outside the U.S.: In the UK, you can buy Fetish directly from Roja Dove at his Haute Parfumerie on the 5th Floor of Harrods London. Roja Dove also has an e-store at Roja Parfums for his personal line of fragrances, and he sells Fetish Extrait for £345. In France, Jovoy Paris seems to be the exclusive distributor for Roja Dove fragrances, and sells Fetish in both the Extrait and Eau de Parfum versions. (The Homme EDP costs €265.) In the UAE, the Paris Gallery carries the whole Roja Parfums line and sells the women’s Fetish Extrait for AED 2,050. Samples: I obtained my sample from Jovoy in Paris. If you’re in the U.S., you can test Fetish Homme in the Extrait version by ordering samples by phone from OsswaldNY. They offer a deal of 10 samples for $10 (shipping included) for domestic customers. Their phone number is: (212) 625-3111. As for Surrender to Chance, it only carries Fetish in the men’s EDP version, but doesn’t offer any version of the women’s fragrance. So, your best bet is really ordering a sample from OsswaldNY.

14 thoughts on “Roja Dove Fetish (Woman)

    • LOL! You know I’m incapable of hiding my feelings about things, even if I tried! As for the oakmoss, well, it’s certainly… erm…. pungent at first. The additional of heavy galbanum doesn’t help much in that regard, but it does soften substantially afterwards. Given the high price, I’m too underwhelmed by the whole thing to really come up with anything more positive than “it’s quite pretty at times, and I did like parts of it.” Fetish is obviously much better on other people. :\

    • Ha! To the point as always, my dear. In fairness, though, it seems that it was a more interesting fragrance on Dubaiscents at least. She got leather, and it wasn’t the skank leather of Fetish Homme, either.

  1. Again, it really amazes me how a scent can be completely different on different people! I want to go and put this on again right now to see if I have been missing all the nuances that you smelled. But, as you already pointed out in the above, it does seem like we put on two entirely different perfumes from our responses. There is no question there is leather in this when I wear it. It is not the same extreme animalic leather as the Homme version but, definitely there. I think I love it most for the mix of the BWF and leather (two of my favorite scents). Thanks for the amazing reviews of both versions of Fetish!

    • What is BWF? I’m afraid I’m not good with acronyms. As for Fetish Woman, yes, you seem to have had a much more complex, interesting experience than I did. It never really developed on my skin beyond a jasmine with mixed chypre accords. I love jasmine and I love oakmoss, depending on treatment, but it’s not the most interesting, nuanced combination around, especially when parts of that combination are quite strident, pungent, and aggressive. I’m glad you got to experience the leather, and that it is a nicer version than that in Fetish Homme.

  2. $435.00?? REALLY?? Even though I am well aware that scents develop differently on everyone, jasmine, oak moss, and the other listed notes in no way equal that hefty price tag…. pass, thanks! As always, your review is so refreshing in its honesty!

  3. Maybe Fetish is a golidlocks scent. Fetish Man was too…ummm…fetishy, and Fetish Woman is too demure. It’s sort of weird (to me, at least) that the men’s and women’s version don’t seem to have a whole lot in common. I felt like sharing a name would indicate some commonality, but there really doesn’t seem to be much similarity except in the name.

    • Heh, Goldilocks’ perfume Fetish. Amusing. 🙂 No, on my skin, they had absolutely zero in common. Even Fragrantica doesn’t classify it as a leather of any kind but, rather, a floral chypre. Of course, their classifications are often completely wonky, so that doesn’t mean much. All I can say is that my skin obviously didn’t want to comply with *either* Fetish, masculine or feminine. I have no doubt that it is a personal skin chemistry thing, since there is obviously someone in this world for whom Fetish Woman *was* a slightly dirty floral chypre with a bit of leather. Even if it had been that way, I can’t imagine being so blown away that I’d spend the amount Roja Dove is asking for it.

      • So, I know nothing about Roja’s personality, but he’s pricing leads me to believe his ego may be a bit inflated. I’ve tried a number of his things now and not a single one has really elicited much of a reaction for me. I guess that doesn’t mean anything, really, but I would think given his reputation and the prices he charges that at least one thing would knock my socks off. Not yet, though. Although I’m sure I am subconsciously aware of the prices, so maybe it stops me from liking his creations as much as I might otherwise.

        • You know, I think you may have a definite point! I’m sure that subconscious awareness does hold one back. It has to. That said, even if Fetish Woman were $100, I’d still be distinctly unenthused by what showed up on my skin. And even if Fetish Man were $50, it would still be painfully animalic on my skin with notes that I would find extremely difficult at the start. Perhaps my skin only likes Roja Dove when he’s working for Puredistance? lol

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