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D.S. & Durga Launches Leatherize Fragrance Enhancer D.S. & Durga

When Kavi Moltz and David Seth Moltz entered the world of fragrance nearly 14 years ago, things looked very different than they do now. Perfume counters were ruled by big box luxury retailers, and boutique fragrance as we know it today was just beginning to gain a foothold in consumer consciousness.

The couple, founders of indie perfume house D.S. & Durga, says they found the fragrance space endlessly mysterious, and still do today. They’ve been transparent about their unorthodox, at times difficult, entrance into a profession known for a longstanding culture of gatekeeping. Neither had formal training in the olfactory arts. Kavi was formerly an architect, and David a musician.

Kavi Moltz and David Seth Moltz of DS & Durga

David Seth Moltz and Kavi Moltz, the co-founders of the fragrance and lifestyle brand D.S. & Durga.  D.S. & Durga.

“We started out making gifts for friends and then sort of grew into this slowly, naturally. We did see a gap in the market, I suppose, but I hesitate to even say that because we didn’t even know what the market meant,” Kavi tells Robb Report. “We just knew that we didn’t want to make the stuff that everyone else was making—most of the stuff that was out there in department stores. The Indie fragrance market was a lot smaller then and we just found it to be an exciting world.”

Despite the odds being stacked against them, the pair has managed to carve out quite the space for their experimental brand over the past decade and a half. Their popular genderless fragrances can now be found everywhere from Bergdorf Goodman to the counters of their very own New York flagships—one in Manhattan and the other in Brooklyn—and an exciting slate of new releases promises to push the label even further.

David shares that his process for creating a new scent is wholeheartedly multisensory, and he begins by creating mood boards and playlists to immerse himself in the world of the fledgling product as it begins to take shape. The brand’s most popular products are reflections of these unique efforts, from unique fragrances such as the electric Bombay Radio and herbaceous smoky Burning Barbershop to their arguably most famous release to date: a naturally musky fragrance enhancer named I Don’t Know What.

“I have this grand vision of an entire perfume line that can all be modified and work together, and I Don’t Know What comes from that—I’d say it’s almost like the genesis of it,” says David.

“I thought to myself, ‘what if I made something that is all clarity?’ There are no real notes in it, and I could spray it over anything, so if you can have this one bottle and ten oils you could make a hundred different perfumes. ”

D.S. & Durga's new fragrance enhancer, Leatherize.

D.S. & Durga’s new fragrance enhancer, Leatherize, is designed to be worn over other scents or on its own.  D.S. & Durga

He explains that while there are fragrances meant to pay homage to a single note, it’s the supporting actors that really help the main star shine. On a given day, he might walk around town wearing singular fragrance oils such as patchouli or vetiver, but David says he’s noticed that the scent tends to come across as muddy in quality. “It’s almost like the very beauty of the most beautiful fragrance materials are not enjoyed in full,” he says. “Yeah, that’s what it is. I’ve never said this before, but it’s like painting: if someone brought me the most beautiful raw materials, they would only show their beauty in full when they are mixed in a certain way.”

The brand’s grand plan to expand its range of fragrance enhancers started with the launch of the transparently floral Crystal Pistil back in 2020, their second fragrance enhancer, and continues with the September release of Leatherize.

Leatherize’s unique formula promises to “drape any fragrance in cruelty-free leather,” and is meant to be worn atop your existing favorite perfumes, but you could also wear it alone. The new product is an ode to the “bold, badass” fragrance category of leather, and Seth hopes that the new enhancer will inspire more experimentation with the intensity of a leather scent—whether that means layering it over a floral fragrance to make it feel “as if the petals turned to rawhide,” or pairing it with other intense notes of patchouli, incense or amber.

D.S. & Durga's new candle Parquet Leather

Parquet Leather is the first D.S. & Durga candle to be launched in concert with a fragrance.  D.S. & Durga

Launching at the same time is a candle by the name of Parquet Leather—an obvious olfactory bedmate for Leatherize, but this time crafted for your home. Indeed, unlike typical coordinated perfume releases, D.S. & Durga’s first-ever dual launch is actually two distinct scents. While the Leatherize fragrance enhancer includes richer notes of butterscotch and peppery cubeb over a base of animalistic (but vegan) castoreum and herbaceous myrrh, Parquet Leather literally smells like a bougie basketball. Luckily, this is entirely on purpose.

“I’ve always wanted to make something that smells like basketballs and sneakers,” David says. “So, I have a bunch of materials that I’m always messing around with, and sometime around a year ago, I was like, ‘Whoa, this is it. This smells like basketballs.’”

Parquet Leather is the perfect example of the brand building a world out of a fragrance—or, perhaps this time, it’s the other way around. The candle was heavily inspired by the multi-faceted culture of basketball and made for those who appreciate its depth. When lit, the candle transports its user from their study or living room, courtside.

D.S. & Durga's Brooklyn Store

The exterior of D.S. & Durga’s Brooklyn store.  David Mitchell

“Once I found that basketball scent, I softened it to make it smell like more orange and to take away that hard edge. So, it has some of that rubber basketball and also a little hardwood floor. There’s a material that smells kind of like old maple wood, and sometimes when wood is aging it gives off this sweetness,” says David. “The sport in the 1950s was so different from what it is today, but what links it all together is the smell of the sneakers and the basketball and the wood. I was just thinking, ‘what does eternal basketball smell like?’”

This latest release by the brand is just one instance of what the pair have been saying for years: that perfume is armchair travel. But, while a more commercial fragrance might return its user to the sweet and familiar shores of a beach, for instance, the unpredictable perfumes by D.S. & Durga can be counted upon to lead you down a path less trodden.