The love affair takes a hit: Roja Dove Nuwa

NuwaWell, dear Posse pals, it finally happened. I have hit a wall with Roja Dove fragrances. I have enjoyed everything that I’ve sniffed so far by him and am always eager to try anything he creates (save for things I don’t like in general, such as ouds, vetiver, etc.). Even if I’m not smitten with one of his scents, I know it will contain top-notch ingredients and be well done. And I appreciate his embrace of vintage-type scents, despite the eye-popping price tags, which send my wallet scurrying into hiding at the very mention of his name. So I had no reason to think this go-round would be any different. I eagerly got a bit of his Nuwa, after reading a comment or two mentioning that it wasn’t too far off from Diaghilev. The notes looked great, and even the cumin down in the list didn’t concern me.

But when I opened the vial and dabbed on the tiniest smidge, a wallop of cumin hit me like a ton of bricks. After a moment or two of panic, I calmed down and decided to do something unrelated to perfume and to check back a bit later. But 15 minutes went by and the cumin was still pretty overpowering. And even 35 or so minutes in, still a definite presence. Had it been another scent I might have scrubbed, but this was Roja Dove, doggone it. Time ticked away and it wasn’t until over an hour had passed that the cumin significantly eased. And what was left didn’t thrill me — either that or I was just worn out from waiting out the cumin and had no capacity for enjoyment at that point. So scratch Nuwa for surgery — even our imaginary perfume scalpel won’t do on this one for me.

Cumin wasn’t listed in the top or mid-notes but instead in the basenotes, which is why it didn’t worry me much. But how do you fight a note that steamrolls up from the back end, hitting you right out of the gate, without giving the other participants much of a fighting chance? The only thing I can think of is that I must have extreme cumin-amplifying skin that takes the least little bit of it and magnifies it something fierce.

In the spirit of fairness, I tried Nuwa on different days and times and at different temperatures, but the cumin still barged right in, trampling everything else.

But on my final try, I decided to experiment. Know what fixed Nuwa and made it more wearable? A drop or two of the divine Unspoken extrait. But what resulted wasn’t so wonderful that I would use any more of my precious Unspoken as a fragrant first-aid remedy. I also tried the Nuxe body oil atop Nuwa, and it smoothed out the cumin overload decently as well. But really, unless you just adore the rest of the scent, what’s the point?

So although it pains me a bit, I have to give Nuwa a pass. But that’s OK; you can’t win ’em all, and definitely a relief for the old wallet. However, I’m sure it smells grand on some of you lucky folks.

What about you? Is there a perfume line that you’ve loved practically top to bottom and then experienced a big disappointment with one of its scents? Or a fragrance that on paper you just knew you would love, but was an epic fail when it hit your skin?

P.S. I do not (and probably never will) have the funds to indulge in a full bottle of anything RD, but I’m more than happy to get by with samples and decants. Although his very-limited-edition
Roja, should it ever become available again, might tempt me to sell everything I own to get a bottle. 😉

  • Lavanya says:

    To me Nuwa smelled like a cousin of Puredistance M (which I love) rather than Diaghilev (which I also liked a lot). Needless to say, I did like Nuwa. a lot..:D..It was wonderfully peppery on my skin.

    • Ann says:

      Hi, Lavanya! So glad that you enjoyed the Nuwa. I think I would have liked a nice hit of pepper, rather than the wallop of cumin, but hey, that’s skin chemistry for you. So should all of us send our unloved Nuwa to you? 😉

      • Lavanya says:

        oh yes please..;-)
        But seriously I almost bought into several Roja splits including Nuwa- but realized that I would literally be able to afford only 1ml-3ml and somehow.. resisted. 🙂

  • Jackie b says:

    Oh, nice timing! I just came from the RD black room in Harrods. I have on my arms:
    Enslaved. Yes please, on me it is soft and floral but not sickly.
    Aoud, rosey and aoudy and rich.
    Enigma Man, somewhat leathery and pipe tobacco.
    AND an armful of his Roja parfum. OMG I wish I hadn’t done that, it is gorgeous! Rich chypre to start, something citrus, and now 5 hours later, ylang ylang and wood. £2,500. Nuf said.

    • Ann says:

      Oh, Jackie, YAY for you, you lucky, lucky girl!! What a neat experience and sounds like most of it turned out well. And yes, yes, yes to that Roja — it is some seriously lovely juice, isn’t it? Oh, but that heart-stopping price … sigh. BTW, did you get to meet (or see) the man himself on your visit? We must hear more, please 🙂

      • Jackie b says:

        I did not meet The Man, but spoke to the gorgeous Marcel who guided me (and my patient husband ) through the whole range. I have a feeling I shall be back as I am here for another week.
        I believe Roja tours the world too, and when asked if people can buy ‘his’ personal scent, triumphantly brings out Roja and says “sure, would you like to buy some!”
        Marcel also told me the gold flecks are a private joke, as the essences used cost way more than the gold!

        • Ann says:

          Too funny about the gold, Jackie! Although I’m sure the gold drives up the price a bit more, and I know many of us could do without that, ha! Thanks for reporting back and sharing some of your experience, so we can all live vicariously through your wonderful visit.
          If you do go back, would you mind asking at the RD boutique when they might be releasing more Roja for general sale? I know earlier this year there was a split on one of the rare bottles (which is how I got to taste my tiny little dab), but I think many of us would love to go in on another split and get a bit more if we could. I would love to win the lottery and be able to send everyone on the Posse some of this lovely juice. Anyway, thanks so much and enjoy your trip!

  • eldarwen22 says:

    I’ve never tried any of the Roja Dove offerings. But I’ve had a couple of samples that just plain didn’t work. Ubar was overwhelming and smelled like bug spray and some flowers. Jubilation 25 smelled like overripe/rotting fruit with some flowers. Couldn’t wash them off fast enough.

    • Ann says:

      Whoa — rotting fruit — don’t like to hear that — or bug spray either. But at least it’s money saved for something you love.

  • Sherri says:

    Hi Ann! I was the opposite of you! I disliked the first Roja Dove I tried (Scandal). It was too much for me, and I did not try anything he put out until the last year or so. Then, I tried Enslaved and my wallet in now enslaved indeed.

    Nuwa is very much like Diaghelev to me, though granted Diaghilev is much more beautiful. Cumin seems not to bother me, I just read it as “spice”. I was going to sell my Nuwa decant (like everyone has said, even the decant was very expensive) since I preferred Diaghilev, but dh loved it so much last time, I decided to keep it. It is a very elegant fragrance, and like Mitsouko, I do not get “sexy” from it, in spite of the cumin, but more strength and independence, so I think it would still be good for work, yet elegant enough for evenings.

    • Ann says:

      Hi, sweet Sherri! I’m very happy that you (and DH) ended up liking Nuwa enough to keep it. The cumin was so overblown on my skin that I had no idea what it might resemble. Although it wasn’t “quite” as potent as Alexander McQueen’s Kingdom, which I had to rush into the bathroom to scrub pronto (my apologies to those of you who love it, though). Enjoy your Enslaved!

  • Mrs. Honey says:

    Is it more cumin than Amouge Jubilation 25? I get a lot of cumin out of that at first. I can live with the first hour and it lasts for at least 12 hours on my skin, so a FB is in my future.

    • Ann says:

      I haven’t worn Jub 25 in so long, that I’m not sure. Now you’ve got me curious and I will have to go dig up my little bit of it and try (later this evening, when the temps drop a bit). I know Musette and several others are huge Jubilation fans, so they’d likely have a good idea.

  • Heya Ann,
    Cumin overdose? Now I am intrigued…
    Portia xx

    • Ann says:

      Howdy, Portia! If you’ve not tried it, and cumin’s your thing, it might just be a winner for you! Let us know what you think.

  • cookie queen says:

    Does RD create anything himself?

    • Ann says:

      Cookie Queen, my first instinct is to say yes, that the scents are his creations, as I’ve never seen or heard of another perfumer being credited, but you know, I’m not exactly sure. Maybe someone else knows more?

  • FeralJasmine says:

    Hi, dear! By an odd coincidence I was trying out Nuwa for the first time tonight, and to my dismay all I can smell is cumin. I like cumin notes, and love vintage Femme, Santal de Mysore, and most perfumes with a cumin note, but this one is too much for me. To my further dismay ( after all, this decant was expensive!) it is absolutely linear on me. It was all cumin all the time 90 minutes ago and it’s all cumin now.

    My greatest disappointment so far is the RJ Gardenia. I adore anything gardenia, and the notes sound right, and RJ is a brilliant perfumer, and by all rights I should be mortgaging the rest of my belongings to get a bottle of it. Instead, my reaction was “meh.”

    • Ann says:

      Hi, lady — so nice to see you! Oh, no, very sorry to hear the Nuwa was so overwhelmingly cumin on you. I do feel a little better, knowing i wasn’t the only one. I’m trying to recall if I tried his gardenia.

      • Ann says:

        OK, I found my little sample of it — it’s quite nice but not stunning. Although hardly any gardenias have absolutely knocked my socks off.

  • ElizabethC says:

    My skin amps up cumin and it also amps up cedar. Not sure who originally wrote that amped up cedar equals “gerbil cage”, but once that imagery was in my head, no more overly cedar perfumes!

    • Ann says:

      Hi, Elizabeth! Too funny about the “gerbil cage.” I know exactly what you mean though. BTW, I’m glad to see that I’m not the only one with whom cumin disagrees. But the one good thing about it, when I see cumin in the notes of a new scent now, I can write it off my sampling list, in most cases.