With quirky fragrance names like “I Don’t Know What” and “Burning Barbershop”, D.S. & Durga’s perfumes immediately pique one’s interest to uncap the flacon and take a whiff of the juice that is in it. This Brooklyn-born niche fragrance brand was founded in 2007 by couple David Seth Moltz and Kavi Moltz who are trained as a designer and architect respectively. We got the chance to speak with Kavi when she was in town recently to promote the upcoming launch of the brand at Escentials next month. Peep our conversation below.
On how architecture has informed her creation of a niche fragrance brand
“My contribution to D.S. & Durga is all visual – the branding, the packaging, the design – it’s all me. The fragrance itself is all David. I was able to distil my design aesthetic into the packaging, which is kind of minimal, sleek and edgy. We only certain materials in the building of our store in New York. We used a lot of concrete and black steel to make it very dark and edgy. I got to use the aesthetic sense that I have honed through architecture in the designing of the store.”
On the choice of starting a perfume brand
“David and I have always been really into fragrances and there’s just something so special about it. Because it’s intangible, you can make a whole world out of it. It’s more of an idea than an object and you can really make it what you want it to be and it’s so subjective and smells different to different people, you can wear five of them layered on at once and you can wear a different one every day. It’s nice how intangible is it.”
On what sets D.S. & Durga apart from other fragrance brands
“Mainly because we are perfumer and designer-owned. He makes all the formulas – which is very rare because most perfume brands will go to five or six fragrance houses and hire someone to make their perfume. But we don’t have that, we do all of that by ourselves and he is self-taught – he didn’t go to a perfume school. I’m doing all the designs, so all our creatives are made in-house and that’s what’s most unique about us. We also have a narrative for every perfume. We like to say that perfume is armchair travel, so each scent has its own playlist, its own visuals, notes in the boxes that contain information that you can read like what David was thinking when he made the fragrance, his inspirations – so you can get as deep as you want to get with it. Some people just want to smell it and move on, but some people really want to get to know more about it, “nerd’ out about it, or research about it. We’d like to think that there’s a rich narrative around each scent.
For example, Burning Barbershop is a scent that evokes a barbershop with all of its tonics like mint, lavender and vanilla and it burnt down and they found this bottle in the rubble. Radio Bombay is a beautiful, lightweight, radiant woody scent that’s from the idea of a tube amp made of sandalwood and the tubes are made of copper and the copper heats up the sandalwood and it creates this sandalwood-y, metallic, warm radiant scent in this basement in Bombay. Our inspirations can come from a place too, like Amber Teutonic and Amber Kiso are based on forests in Germany and Japan.”
On the creative process behind a D.S. & Durga fragrance
“Sometimes we start on a concept and move towards a fragrance, sometimes we start with ingredients and move towards a story. The inspiration can come from anything and can go both ways. With the amber fragrances, David wanted to make a series of things based on amber materials. Amber Kiso is inspired by the Kiso forest. It has hinoki wood, maple and patchouli. And then there’s another amber that’s inspired by the alpine forest. Coriander is based on wanting to make a spicy fragrance, but a cool, spicy fragrance, not your typical nutmeg, clove and cinnamon. This one’s pepper, juniper and cubeb. This one started with the ingredients, by wanting to make a scent that smells cooling, spicy and green. Debaser is started by a story that David remembers of a particular summer when he was growing up. That summer, he was introduced to The Pixies – this band that’s a really important band to him growing up. He remembers listening to them one summer in the car. The beauty of having him be the perfumer is that we don’t have to give a brief to someone and ask them to make a scent like this. We get to have this fluid process that can start from anywhere.”