A cult-favorite Brooklyn perfume brand has partnered with a hotel campground to create a scent that captures the spirit of the West Texas wonderland.
With its world-famous art installations and sweeping expanses, Marfa is a design-lover’s dream (and anInstagrammer’s paradise). It’s also the latest spot to be preserved in perfume by D.S. & Durga, the beloved Brooklyn-based fragrance house that specializes in small batches with backstories as intriguing as the scents themselves. For this perfume, founders David Seth Moltz and Kavi Moltz focused on El Cosmico, the communal campground in Marfa where guests choose their shelter—yurts, tents, teepees, and trailers are all on the menu—and spend their days lounging in the hammock grove, staging performances on the outdoor stage, or shopping the retail store, El Cosmico Provision Co., which recently launched their own ECPC Apothecary line of balms and body oils meant to counter the desert’s heat and dryness.
The end result is El Cosmico the fragrance, a scent combining sumac, creosote shrubs, mesquite, oak, and pinyon pine to evoke the wild desert, with a hint of campground. We asked David Moltz to tell us more about the collaboration, his process, and what makes Marfa so scent-worthy.
How did this collaboration come about?
David Seth Moltz: The creation of the El Cosmico scent is a case of serendipity. Just as I was beginning to make explorations in desert scents and desert music—sand, heat, shrubs, minimalism—we came into contact with [El Cosmico owner] Liz Lambert and her crew. We met them in our studio, riffed on everything from music to design, and were all very excited to collaborate on a project.
What was the process behind developing the scent?
DSM: For the scent I first wanted to research the plant life. Many desert plants are strangely aromatic as they retain their essential oils to combat the harsh climate. Kavi and I went to the Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute and hiked along the outdoor botanical gardens. We were able to survey the different sotols, agave, cacti, trees, and desert shrubs up close. I wanted the scent to be a study of desert shrubs with their sweet aromatic, herbal, and sometime medicinal aromas. One could make a whole line based on these species. More than the plants, I wanted to capture the dry air and sands, so the wearer could feel the desert on their skin.
What was the hardest part of the process?
DSM: The hardest part of the process is actually the most boring—the logistics of how to get a small batch of perfume made—coordinating customized materials at low quantities. A lot of time is used getting every piece together: raw materials, maceration in alcohol, bottle, cap, pump, sticker, box, sleeve.
What makes the fragrance so unique?
DSM: Perfume is armchair travel. It is made of very real materials but suggests an entire, hidden world. El Cosmico is a place to stay for gypsies on the move, but it is much more as well. It suggests the cosmic omnipresence that we sit at the edge of daily. To be there under the stars is to feel the infinity of our position. The scent had to suggest this feeling—a haunting reminder of an endless landscape.
What’s your favorite thing about Marfa?
DSM: When we visited El Cosmico, the land, place, and people inspired us. Anyone who visits Marfa feels its magnetism. Marfa is surrounded by high plains desert, arroyos, bajadas, mountains, unique plant species, and endless blue skies. It is mystical, artistic, far off the map, but somehow close and comforting, leaving one with a sense of connection to the art world, West Texas, ranch life, and Mexico…all at the same time.