Synesthesia is a condition where a person can experience crossed sensory reactions in response to something—many people who have it often recount objects like colors, numbers, or letters as having a sound, scent, or taste. Though D.S. and Durga perfumer David Moltz thinks he may have it in some capacity, you don't have to be part of the elite 1% with the condition to experience exactly what purple smells like through the brand's new scent, Vio-Volta ($260; dsanddurga.com).
Yes, purple. As in, the color.
"The color purple is actually more on the electric violet spectrum, which is more like a white-lavender shade, so it isn't a deep purple at all to me. I don't know if I technically have synesthesia, but as a self-taught perfumer, the way I view perfume in a large part is by color," Moltz explains. "For me, describing things in color can help the fragrance make sense—like with a note such as patchouli, it's red and brown and earthy, whereas a note like violet smells like light purple, almost like candy."
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In creating Vio-Volta, Moltz used elements that he described as "purpley," like wisteria and violet, then introduced a new chemical called violis into the mix. The addition of rhubarb gave the blend an earthy, almost celery-esque twist. "It's vegetal with a frosty purple wisteria vibe," he explains. "I think it gives a teeth-grating metallic woodiness, and is fresh and bright right out of the gates. It's definitely electric."
We'll say. In lieu of an elaborate backstory as the brand is wont to do for every other scent, the description simply reads, "Electric. Vibration. Violet," with a giant lightning bolt adorning the box. Surprisingly, Vio-Volta came together rather quickly by comparison to the rest of their catalog—Moltz has been working on one upcoming scent for five years, to provide scale—and was a result of simply combining a handful of notes he felt smelled purple. Funny enough, the actual liquid has a pale lavender hint, which was totally accidental. "The liquid was pure luck to me. I don't really arrange the ingredients according to color, and some of them react differently to light and can turn different colors after a while, which is normal, but the purple color was completely unexpected," Moltz adds.
When lightning strikes, right?