Smell is the most underrated of all the senses. We look at the world around us exactly how it is, we feel bursts of flavour in our mouths through taste, we hear all sounds natural and man-made, and we touch things to tie it all together. But smell, according to the newest niche perfume house to enter India, is what goes beyond the world we sense around us.
D.S. & Durga, by David Moltz and Kavi Ahuja Moltz, is a long way from home. The Brooklyn-based couple’s skills fit together like pieces of a puzzle. David, a musician, is a self-taught perfumer with a vivid imagination, while Kavi, an architect, sees clean lines come to life while taking charge of the overall design. The two are looking for people who are looking for something unique. “It’s all about discovery. People discovering us as a brand and then discovering what’s inside. Of course, there are people that just want to smell a fragrance, like it, wear it and move on. But then there are people who are interested in more than that, and that’s what we’re all about,” says Kavi.
With a spritz of each fragrance from the brand, you are transported to a world that the Moltz’ have created. And all they want are customers who are willing to dive into these worlds. Stories have time and again proven to add immense value to products, especially in the luxury industry. It gives consumers more to stimulate their senses with. “With our products, there’s a smell, then there are visuals attached to it, and we also have a playlist for each fragrance,” Kavi explains. A multisensory experience led by scent is what the brand excels at.
While the faraway lands you travel to are mostly imagined, the notes and materials used take inspiration from the real world. The brand drips in Brooklyn hip, with some desi hints owing to co-founder Kavi’s Indian roots. One of their fragrances named Radio Bombay is a “deconstructed sandalwood scent”, with a story that is quintessentially D.S. & Durga. “There’s a sandalwood amplifier in a basement somewhere in Bombay. It’s dusty and has a copper tube. As you turn on the amplifier, the copper tube warms up the sandalwood and creates this radiant, metallic, woody, warm scent,” Kavi paints a picture. Two signature scents are named after the brand and, hence, the founders themselves. Durga embodies Indian florals, featuring tuberose, Ylang-ylang and jasmine.
Branding and Marketing 101 tells you that most people buy a product just based off what it looks like from the outside. All the brand’s bottles, courtesy Kavi’s slick eye for design, have aesthetic uniformity. There’s no way to know from the outside what wild adventure each bottle of eau de parfum will take you on. Clean visuals seem to be what new-age luxury is all about. And for a brand with a large millennial audience, this goes a long way. “Ours is definitely a very understated luxury. It’s not luxury in the traditional terms; gilded, embroidered, gold or decorated. It’s more of a modern, clean, minimal luxury,” says Kavi.
And the one who curates this luxury is the founder of Scentido, Mr. Shishir Mehta, who, according to the couple seemed to understand the sense of discovery and finding something that’s off the beaten path. These are values at the heart of D.S. & Durga, and exactly what Mehta is on the lookout for. “If the perfumes are available everywhere, it doesn’t make sense for me to bring them to India. I visit many stores to see what is not widely available. For example, if something is exclusively available at Harrods, I’d like to bring that to India,” says Mehta, who visited D.S. & Durga’s Brooklyn HQ in 2017 and 2018. “We need exclusivity. That’s the only way it works,” he adds.
D.S. & Durga can be found exclusively at SCENTIDO Niche Perfumery stores in Mumbai, New Delhi, and online.