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A conversation with David Roelen

by Christian Nathler

What is D.L. ROELEN?

D.L. ROELEN is a modern fragrance house, built on a contemporary value set to challenge toxic stereotypes in society and to empower transformation and a radical self.


What’s your story?

I grew up in a small town in Germany, with just my mom. I have always been comfortable with my sensual masculinity and am inspired by modern femininity. Before I started D.L. ROELEN, I worked in advertising, where I observed that many beauty and fragrance brands didn’t reflect the multiple ways in which people identify. Their stories were too linear. As if a perfume can only say one thing about a person. Back in 2017 on a trip to London, I was talking to a stranger who noticed that I wasn’t happy with my job. He asked what I really wanted to do, so I told him about two ideas I had for perfume. It turned out he manages one of Europe’s largest fragrance labs. Three weeks later I was on my way to visit him in Istanbul. This all happened because we were both open enough to have a candid conversation. 

What is the brand story?

There is no brand story. The perfumes are inspired by human interaction – with each other, with ourselves, and with nature. Most importantly, when someone picks up my perfume, they have the power to tell their own story. To occupy grey areas, to cross boundaries, to wander off the page. 

How does perfume make that happen?

Perfume is communication, perfume is a message.

My goal with my perfumes is to inspire confidence. By that, I mean the courage to fully express yourself. To be vulnerable, to communicate without fear, to embrace change. Confidence is the antidote to a great plague of our generation: insecurity. It is a key ingredient of empathy. The world needs more of it. 

How does the creative process look like?

The concepts grow in my head over time and usually I start writing them out by hand with my MB pen. Then they grow richer into documents with images, music, people, and all kinds of other references. Finally I will approach one of the perfumers I work with to discuss the concept and from there we work closely over weeks to several months to finalize the scent. I never learned perfumery but happened to learn, that I have the capability to think in scents.


What do you mean with thinking in scents?

When I say thinking in scents, I don’t mean thinking of a lemon peel and a rose or a walk in a garden in Italy. I rather think of emotions and feelings that I want to be evoked through scent and eventually this brings a few ingredients to mind that I think might transport this feeling. So I know pretty clearly what I have to smell to get that feeling. Assuming that “If I can feel it, others can.” if that makes sense.


How do you want people to feel when they wear your perfume?

I invite people to open themselves before they open the perfume. Perfume is a powerful memory trigger. It should evoke your most sincere self every time you spray it. With sincerity comes confidence. 

Who are your perfumes for?

I create perfumes that appeal to personality. For people with integrity and conviction. I don’t consider gender. 

How do you show integrity?

To me, integrity means embracing yourself. Being radically honest. I live by a list of commandments. I reference them in my answers and the ways in which I describe the perfumes. I invite anyone to make a list of commandments. It doesn’t matter what they are – the most important thing is that you stick to them.  

How can we stay in touch?

My phone number is on every bottle. Call or text anytime☺︎

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