Top: spearamint, lime, hemlock spruce
Middle: lavender, absolute, turkish rose
Base: burnt oil, vanilla, hay
DS & Durga
The world of fragrance is full of brands that have released signature scents inspired by libraries, jazz clubs, and all sorts of locations steeped in tradition and legend. I know the intention is not to be so literal but I’m usually a little disappointed when they don’t smell like the places in which they are named. I would love a scent that captures that all too familiar scent of old books. As for jazz clubs, I guess you wouldn’t want it to smell like cigarette smoke and gin. Everything, of course, is subjective and everyone’s interpretation is determined by their individual experience. However, in the case of Burning Barbershop, I do have very specific memories from childhood and what I believe to be an accurate memory of how they smell.
With prior disappointments in mind, my expectations for any similarities to those memories were limited at best. I expected the top notes to be more aligned with the “burning” part of the name featuring smoked wood scents backed by something brighter to balance it out. Upon opening the box, I could already tell this wasn’t the case. In fact, when I sprayed a little in the air, I detected some of those familiar notes from the air within the barbershop of my youth. I was immediately transported in my mind to that ramshackle little shop with tattered sofas, old fishing magazines, and the walls filled with plaques from the VFW. It was the kind of place where the barber and I never spoke. He merely patted the chair when he was ready and I knew it was over when he removed the smock. I spent the entire 15 minutes listening to the electronic sounds of the clippers while staring at the blue liquid in the jar holding all the combs. Burning Barbershop is exactly how I always wanted that blue liquid Barbicide to smell.
As with all products from the renowned Brooklyn fragrance house, DS + Durga, this scent comes with a backstory to invoke your imagination. In this case, it’s a barbershop from New York that burned down in the late 1800s leaving nothing but charred remains and a half full bottle of shaving tonic featuring hints of lavender, lime, mint, and vanilla. All of which are present individually but work wonderfully in tandem to create a medicinal effervescence. Tuberose and rose add just a touch of floral and perfume to the mix but the combination of it all together somehow reinforce their mission of capturing the essence of the classic barbershop and all of their tonics. A place where Humphrey Bogart probably had a shave or a young kid like myself received a $3 flat top.
The price point of Burning Barbershop probably keeps this one from being an everyday scent for me but the quality affords you to get the maximum coverage with only a few sprays. The smaller 50ml bottle could last for a very long time in that case. It also tends to lean more masculine in my opinion but that’s probably partly due to its association and what I would consider an extremely refined aftershave essence. Still, this is still very much a unisex fragrance. Picture the bottle front and center in Bogart’s dressing room with Lauren Bacall spritzing a bit on her wrists before their guests arrive.