A walk through a citrus orchid quickly leads to lavender fields that are first brisk and bracing, then creamy and smoothened into ice cream. The light all around is thick with salty-sweet ambergris, a golden haze rendered even richer with patchouli and spices. Dry woods hover at the edges, with mighty cedar casting its long shadow over the creamy warmth lightly flecked by leather. It’s not a tale of Danger, but of ambered, spicy warmth that is both very unisex for Oriental lovers, and quite delicious at times.
Danger Pour Homme is a fragrance from Roja Dove. It was released in 2011, and is available in a pure parfum or Extrait form, along with an eau de parfum concentration. This review is for the Extrait. And I’d like to stress again that, contrary to the name, Danger is wholly unisex in feel. On his personal Roja Parfums website, Roja Dove describes the scent as follows:
“You’ve Been Warned”
FRESH, SWEET, WARM, VERY SENSUAL, and LEATHERY
“Laden with potent aphrodisiacs — this creation is not dangerous for the man who wears it — it is dangerous for the woman who smells it on him.” –Roja Dove.
Top: Bergamot, Lemon, Tarragon, Lavender, Cumin
Heart: Jasmine, Violet, Lily of the Valley
Base: Vetiver, Cedarwood, Wood Notes, Clove, Galbanum, Oakmoss, Patchouli, Rhubarb, Ambergris, Vanilla Castoreum, Musk, Leather Notes, Tonka Bean.
Danger opens on my skin with incredibly brightness centered on fresh bergamot and sun-sweetened, warmed lemons. It is followed within seconds by patchouli infused with amber. This is my sort of patchouli, real patchouli and one of my favorite notes in perfumery with its spicy, smoky, beautifully brown richness. The ambergris also smells real, instead of the more generic “amber” often found in perfumery. It’s slightly salty, musky, almost wet and marshy, with a strong vein of caramel running through it. Fast on the heels of the patchouli-amber combination is a powerful lavender note that transforms Danger’s opening into that of a fougère, albeit one of the oriental fougère sub-class.
As a result, Danger’s opening feels split down the middle, with bright, fresh, bracing, aromatic notes on one side, and spicy, multi-faceted warmth on the other. The lavender initially smells clean, very herbal, and pungent. The twin threads of herbaceous and citric freshness are supplemented by rivulets of oakmoss, then dashes of green galbanum and hints of lime with an equally herbal tarragon.
Arriving on the other side of the aisle are spicier, warmer notes. Most noticeable is the cumin which is sweet, spicy, and a little bit animalic. Yet, cumin-phobes should not fear. At no time does it smell of food or body odor, let alone stale, unwashed, fetid sweatiness. It merely adds an additional layer of spiciness to the stunning patchouli. The spicy sweetness is amplified by cloves, a creamy vanilla, and a subtle vein of rich, burnished, smooth leather. The latter feels almost honeyed, but it also is more of an impression of “leather” on my skin than the actual note. It’s a largely abstract accord — more of an idea, if you will — and a subtle one at that.
Danger changes quickly and within minutes. The bracing lavender turns very creamy, though it’s not yet on the verge of being lavender ice-cream. A tiny whisper of nebulous, indistinct florals lurks about the edges, the saltiness grows stronger from the oakmoss and ambergris, and the cumin-patchouli accord melts into everything. I don’t smell any lily-of-the-valley, violet, or jasmine in an individual way — now or at any point in Danger’s development. The main impression from afar is of honeyed, spicy, ambered warmth with herbs, citruses, creamy sweetness and a hint of burnished, aged leather. Up close, the vanilla slowly softens the lavender’s edges, while the golden haze of the ambergris grows richer.
Five minutes in, the cumin, oakmoss, cloves, leather and tarragon merge into the other notes, transitioning seamlessly and in perfect balance. They all work indirectly to add further richness to the notes, but they aren’t a strong presence in an individual way. I no longer smell Danger, and instantly think “Oh, cumin!” or “Oh, oakmoss and leather.” Out of the three, however, the cumin remains the most distinct, noticeable element for the greatest amount of time. Every time I think it has actually disappeared, its dusted, sweet spiciness pops back up at the edges, but it’s quite muted.
As a whole, Danger’s opening bouquet is primarily centered on bright citruses, aromatic but increasingly creamy lavender, spices, patchouli, and vanillic sweetness upon a rich, slightly salty, musky ambergris base. It is a perfectly balanced, rather heady, and addictive layering, but Danger is also much airier than those rich notes would lead you to believe. 3 small sprays from my atomizer, amounting to about 1.5 sprays from an actual bottle, create a soft, extremely deep, rich cloud that hovers roughly 2-3 inches above the skin. That number drops, though, to just an inch in projection at the end of the first hour. And, there, it remains for quite a while.
Danger is a very rich, refined, luxurious scent, but it also made me think of a number of other fragrances. Initially, in the opening minutes, Danger brought to mind Roja Dove’s creation for Puredistance, the fantastic M. Danger has the same sort of quasi-leather nuances with bright citruses, all anchored upon a very oriental framework, but the similarities end there. Danger is substantially more herbal and heavily spiced than M, and much less citric. It is primarily a fougère in its opening phase, while M is a chypre. For Danger, the oakmoss is but a tiny, fleeting blip in the overall framework; it is quite the opposite for M. In addition, M has no lavender or patchouli, let alone cumin in even the tiniest degree.
A stronger connection is to Histoires de Parfums 1725 (Casanova) but, even more so, to Parfums de Nicolai‘s new Amber Oud. The latter is a fragrance with zero oud that opens with creamy lavender-vanilla before transitioning to a lavender, vanilla, spicy patchouli, amber scent. The similarities become particularly strong about 20 minutes into Danger’s evolution when the vanilla seeps into everything, turning the lavender into aromatic ice-cream and making the patchouli even smoother. The cedar shows up around the same time, initially lurking around the edges in the same way that it does in Amber Oud, though it grows significantly stronger over the course of Danger’s development.
However, here, too, there are differences. Amber Oud has no cumin, no bright citruses, and no undertones of leather. It is sweeter and substantially more vanillic, not to mention much less woody. The amber notes in the two fragrances are also quite different, as there is initially just a generic “amber” in the Nicolai scent which eventually turns into labdanum. Danger, however, opens with a clear ambergris tonality that slowly turns more abstract and more into simple golden warmth. In Danger, the cedar is much stronger as a whole, and the perfume is also lightly flecked by vetiver at the end of the first hour. For the most part, it smells like a much richer, more complex, nuanced creation than the much simpler, sweeter, less woody Amber Oud.
Speaking of woodiness, Danger picks up an interesting undertone after 40 minutes. The cedar provides a subtle smokiness, but there is a tiny streak of black tarriness that also lurks deep within the base. I have to wonder if the unspecified “woody notes” include birch, and my impression grows stronger at the start of the 3rd hour. Many fragrances attempt to recreate “leather” through other notes. As the Perfume Shrine explains, “[r]endering a leather note in perfumery is a challenge for the perfumer[,]” and that what is “actually used” to create that olfactory impression are vegetal or synthetic ingredients which can include birch tar, juniper cade, and quinoline. The Perfume Shrine adds:
isobutyl quinoline … possesses a fiercely potent odour profile described as earthy, rooty, and nutty, echoing certain facets of oakmoss and vetiver and blending very well with both. Isobutyl quinoline also has ambery, woody, tobacco-like undertones: a really rich aromachemical!
Much of that description applies to what I smell in Danger. There is a very quiet, very muted smokiness lurking at the edges, but there is also a definite trace of something tobacco’d to my nose. It pops up about 2.5 hours into Danger’s development, and is definitely nutty in nature, almost verging on a coffee nuance at times. It works very well with the subtle vetiver, the growing presence of the cedar, and the spicy sweetness of the patchouli.
By the end of the 3rd hour, Danger is an infinitely creamy blend of sweet, spicy patchouli with vanilla, amber, vetiver, vaguely tobacco-like tonalities, cedar, and lingering traces of something nebulously herbal. The whole thing is flecked with general woodiness, a subtle smokiness, and tiny touches of cumin — all upon a sliver of something leathered in the base. The lavender lingers in the most abstract, muted form possible. Like the cumin, every time I think it’s finally vanished, a tiny dash of something herbal reappears in the background. Soon thereafter, a little after the start of the 4th hour, Danger turns into a skin scent on me.
Danger’s core essence remains unchanged for a while. Many of the notes merely turn more abstract, losing their distinct shape and edge, and the perfume devolves into something softer. The amber in the base re-emerges after 6 hours and rises to the surface again, adding a caramel warmth to the patchouli and woods. Tonka is lightly threaded throughout. Around 8.25 hours into Danger’s evolution, the perfume is a soft blur of tonka, patchouli and cedar, all infused with an amorphous, warm, ambered glow.
With every passing moment, the perfume turns more abstract. By the end of the 9th hour, Danger is a creamy, sweet blend of tonka and woodiness with just the lightest touch of patchouli. In its final moments, it is merely slightly powdered tonka with a dash of woodiness. All in all, Danger Extrait lasted just a little over 11.75 hours on my perfume-consuming skin with 3 small sprays from my atomizer. The sillage was generally very soft after the first hour.
I thoroughly enjoyed certain parts of Danger, especially as I’m a serious “patch head,” but I have to confess that my early enthusiasm for the scent waned. The opening 20 minutes are wonderful, especially with the cumin, but the perfume lost a lot of its more interesting qualities at the end of the 90 minutes. There is richness, quality, and spicy warmth galore — no doubt about it. I simply wasn’t very moved by the overall sum total. Don’t get me wrong, Danger is lovely in smell, but it also feels a little uninteresting and simple at its core. If it cost $150 or something more in line with other niche pricing, I wouldn’t have an issue, but I’d like to be moved much more for $435 (a price that is soon going to rise further within the next few days and is for a 50 ml bottle, not a 100 ml one).
I think it really comes down to personal perfume tastes and the Roja Dove style. I’ve reviewed about 7 of his fragrances at this point, from his two Fetishes to Diaghilev, his Amber Aoud, Innuendo or Creation-I for Women, and Enigma (Creation-E), and I can appreciate the solid, core refinement that is his signature. I see the extreme quality, as well as the skill shown by a number of them. But I’m continuously left feeling flat.
They simply don’t speak to me, move me, or demonstrate a soul other than luxuriousness. Some people like Van Gogh, others like Gainsborough, Rubens or Klimt. There is no doubt that all of them are masters, but they don’t suit every taste. For me, Roja Dove has the perfect brush strokes, but perhaps it’s a little too perfect, and a little too centered on seamless opulence on a largely flat oil canvas. Danger evokes the feel and colours of Gainsborough’s warm, rich landscapes, but I’ve never been particularly swayed by Gainsborough — and I’m not here, either, my patchouli love notwithstanding. For Danger’s very high price, I’d like something a little spark of life or a distinctive character that goes beyond mere luxurious quality and richness. But that’s just me.
Well, perhaps not entirely just me. I was taken aback and completely surprised to see a distinct level of unenthusiasm for Danger on the official Basenotes thread for the fragrance. Some of the comments there:
- meh. [¶] bought it blind cuz it was cheap (ish) on ebay and i wanted to try a roja dove. i sold it after three full wearing. it was quite sumptuous but utterly mediocre, if that makes any sense. a sort of amalgam of classic fougeres that just didn’t say anything. apparently he also did puerdistance M; didn’t like that either. i’ll stick with duchaufour, jp guerlain, roucel, sheldrake, thank you very much
- A boring masculine with no particular twists. The quality is absolutely there but, at these prices, it’s not enough. More “stereotyped” than “classic”.
- I enjoyed the scent as it started very citrusy and refreshing; then I got a mixture of fougere notes that lasted for about 3 hours max. [¶] I was hoping for a big perfume soul but just got an average masculine fougere with average longevity. [¶] Disappointed… [¶]
Medium Thumbs !
There is one very positive review, however, and it reads, in part:
Ambregris and Vetiver
I don’t recommend everyone to try the Eau de Parfum concentration. The beauty of Roja’s perfumes lives in the interaction of a sumptuous base with the heart notes, after a bright start (bergamot is the signature usually, bitter but extremely sparkling); to obtain this you should smell, absolutely, the Parfum version. […][¶]
DpH (parfum concetration) for me is the finest and most sensual combination between tons of natural ambregris (intense salinity, deep and gently animal), and tons of Haiti vetiver burbon with “grandeur”. A sparkling opening of bergamot (as always) dense and palpable with the bright green of galbanum; subtle violaceous nuances of Grasse jasmin and lily of the valley. Finest ingredients made by Robertet in Grasse. I was shocked to percive such that quantity of natural ambregris in a modern perfume, as to keep the salty in the bottom of the tongue and be able to feel it with the taste. So much to fix the drydown for three days on my wirst. Here is the “Danger”: a soft, sensual animality with a great depth (ambregris) in a so luminous fragrance with the most souave vetiver that I’ve smell.
On Fragrantica, the comments are much more positive, with one noticeable exception:
- it smells to me more like an oriental fougere than an oriental fragrance. I cannot detect the leather or amber to noticeable; instead, i get a good dose of a classic combination of lavender, spices (with the clove the most noticeable on my skin), herbs, woods and some coumarinic/vanillic touch. It smells true to the good fougere orientals and it makes me think, while not being equal, to Opium Pour Homme and the recent Houbigant Fougere Imperiale. I’m sure that Roja Dove uses excellent materials in his compositions, but the Fougere family is one that for me i don’t see such a deep difference between something more affordable and something expensive like this that would justify the price and purchase.
- 1725 Casanova is a cheaper option which smells eerily similar to Danger pour homme in terms of its bright floral nature. Roja Dove not shy on ingredients, brings the house with more notes than Mr.T have necklaces. Far from the average “chick magnet” fragrance, this is a conversational piece and dare I say an event on its own. Danger has a complexity that I can only compare to a kaleidoscope. Led by an array of feminine florals, this fragrance manages to never get in its own way. Overall, this is a light airy fragrance with massive sillage and longevity. I found this to be perfectly unisex.
- Danger Homme Parfum are tons of salty, musky, sweet NATURAL Ambregris (yes, natural ambregris) perfectly balanced with other tons of the best Haiti Vetiver. This wonder opens with the light of bergamot and warmed by soft woods and mountain flowers. A touch of rare natural Grasse-Jasmin gives a subdued suede tone. In this concentration and thanks to ambregris the sillage and longevity are huge.
- smells like they took Amouage Gold Man and said “let’s try to make this not smell terrible.” and they did a great job, replacing the animalistic element of civet with castoreum, ambergris, and leather. they also tone down the feminine florals to an acceptable level. this to me seems like the best modern take on a classic men’s fragrance. Which does put in more on the mature side for me. And while it lasted all day, the projection was practically none existent on me. [Emphasis to names with bolding added by me.]
I liked Danger the most out of the Roja fragrances that I’ve tried thus far, primarily because I am addicted to real patchouli. The ambergris and cumin touches are also lovely, though I wish the latter were not so muted and intangible. On the other hand, that should reassure any cumin-phobes who might have been put off by Danger’s list of notes.
In short, if you like oriental fougères, real ambergris, tons of patchouli, and spicy warmth, you may want to give Danger Pour Homme a sniff. It is truly unisex, in my opinion, so women who enjoy Histoires de Parfums’ 1725 Casanova, Parfums de Nicolai’s Amber Oud, or patchouli-amber scents in general should have no problems carrying off it off. Whether it moves you enough to be worth the price will be a very different matter, however, and will come down to personal, subjective tastes.