After its opening flash, Bowmakers settles down into what I can only imagine must be an accidental homage to that great benchmark in commercial perfumery: Silver Shadow, by Davidoff: 100 mils of which are available, pretty much everywhere, for less than $US 30. I’m reviewing Bowmakers because I find it to be the best of the DS Durga line, and I find it emblematic of the house as a whole.
If DS Durga devoted as much time to a comprehensive in-depth study of, you know, perfume-making, as they do to marketing, presentation, and the construction of arch, and quite often, cringe-inducing back stories from a re-imagination of 19th century Americana so hackneyed you half expect the ghost of Walt Whitman to return and exact a highly pre-industrial vengeance against interlopers so painfully un-ironic, maybe they’d be on to something. But they don’t, and, therefore, they’re not. It’s not, you know, that Durga doesn’t make GOOD fragrances. They do. But greatness is not in them (and by “them” I mean both the bottles and the creators). The proof of this, to me, is in the copy they use to justify the price point which, although not particularly high for niche perfumery, is ridiculously high for unimaginative blends hiding behind a smokescreen of Victorianism.
Silver Shadow is created by Francis Kurdjian, a classically trained nose. Its ad campaign is minimalist: a headshot of the silver fox masculine archetype above the tag line “Lead the Way.” As I said, thirty bucks.
Or you can buy into Bowmaker’s bullshit, at around $140 for 50 ml: “Amongst the transcendental woods of the 1800s, craftsmen from the Massachusetts Bay Colony built violins & bows in the tiny towns of the Pioneer Valley. The shops were riddled with old growth mahogany, burled maple shavings, amber pine rosin, aged walnut & their unique secret varnishes.”
The only thing authentically “oldtimey” about Durga is the thrill one gets from buying snake oil from a mountebank charlatan.
15th January, 2016 (last edited: 08th February, 2016)
Bowmakers is the best of three D.S. & Durga fragrances I've tried so far. It's also a case wherein the creative name very accurately reflects the note and heart of the composition--namely, old-smelling woods. Combined with leather and liquor, it becomes a masculine composition that walks the line between sophisticated and brash. It conjures an old house or bar, dominated by the smell of old wood and upholstery, mixed in with some of the spicy, herby notes that appear in a restaurant.
Much stronger in projection and longevity than the warm-weather options I've tried from this house, Bowmakers at least begins to knock on the door of being worth the price, especially given the artistry of the fragrance.
I can't imagine this would be too pleasing to women, but for men in the pursuit of a woody/leathery fragrance (Tuscan Leather, Pure Wood, etc.) this in an interesting niche alternative. I'm not sure I'd buy it myself but I'm intrigued enough that I'll come back to it during the winter, since it's surely better as a cold-weather fragrance.
7 out of 10
Lovely, superb! A wood-lover's delight.
Great wood and resinous notes. Dry but smooth, very pleasant to wear.
A treasure chest of wood notes, and quite focused in that regard. Some conifers appear (likely from the cypress) and these are bright and energizing. Like CdG Hinoki but not as austerely challenging. Bit of a rubber note, typical of some cedar (e.g., Siskyou). Some moss along with the wood in the dry-down.
Exceeded my recommendations. Recommended.
I smell like an exquisite pencil right now. Nothing else going on, just the loveliest, classiest little pencil you ever did see. This may not suite everyone, but I'm digging it. It's such a nice crisp wood, wrapped in warm rich resin, I am daydreaming about what it would layer well with. And yet... nope, I think I'll stay a happy, finely lacquered pencil.
This is void of the "creamy" quality in other woody scents I've tried, and I like that change of pace. If you want to be fancy, try this and imagine sitting in a violinmaker's studio or among ornate woodwork in a classic library. Big thumbs up!
While it leans masculine, I think a woman could pull it off. I would likely maul any man who wore it, yum.