D.S. & Durga was one of the standout brands at last month’s fragrance trade show, Elements Showcase. It’s run by a couple who live and work in Brooklyn, and it started as a sort of craft project. “We started by making holiday gifts for friends in 2007,” Durga, the female half of the brand, told Refinery 29 two years ago. “D.S. wanted to make a Bay Rhum aftershave for his guy friends, and I wanted an orange blossom water toner for my lady friends.”
Now the line comprises 10 masculine and nine feminine fragrances, including Burning Barbershop, a smoky cologne that D.S & Durga describes thus:
A fire broke out in the Curling Bros. barbershop in Westlake NY in 1891. All the shaving tonics with their spearmint, lime, vanilla & lavender burned. A charred bottle was found half-full. It smelled like this.
That clever story pretty accurately describes the fragrance. It begins almost minty-medicinal, like a classic aftershave, but the smoky notes follow quickly. There’s also a rich, sweet, pipe tobacco and leather aroma in there. As I read the notes, I can pick out the spearmint, the lavender, and the vanilla. It really is like a classic aftershave cologne put through a smoker. It’s wonderful.
As noted by others, this isn’t terribly powerful. It lasts a while, but the smoke notes fade, and it turns to something milder and more equally lavender and vanilla. By the eight-hour mark, it’s pretty faint. This is a fragrance you can spray on heavy—unusual for a smoke scent.
Underneath the smoke, which is undeniably masculine, the barbershop fragrance is itself quite manly—something I’d enjoy wearing on its own, something classic and simple. The smoke addition is brilliant, and it elevates it to something altogether different. I’ll be sad when my little sample vial is used up.