Reviews of two recent florals: Durga by DS & Durga and Don't Tell Jasmine by Vilhelm Parfumerie.
Durga by DS & Durga
If you asked me what notes I'd like you to add to "palatial doses of the finest floral absolutes", melon and chrysanthemum would not be high on my list of suggestions. They do, admittedly, make this a rather unusual fragrance, and not what you'd expect from what are otherwise the usual suspects in a feminine white floral: tuberose, orange blossom, sambac jasmine, ylang ylang. I can imagine the right person falling in love with Durga, the latest release from indie brand DS & Durga, but I found the melon vaguely disturbing (as I usually, but not always, do) early on, and as Durga dried down, the chrysanthemum seemed to blunt the impact of the white floral notes. The later stages felt like a push-me-pull-me, with the chrysanthemum trying to drag Durga out of the hothouse and into fresher and greener wildflowers-in-the-field territory, and the heavily-powdered iris base pulling it back towards the dressing table.
Verdict: The brand says Durga was inspired by their love for tuberose, and no doubt it was, but "palatial doses" or no, the tuberose is not in the forefront for very long. I puzzled over Durga for days and then gave up. It is not for me, and just as well, because $350. But it's interesting and very much worth a shot, especially if you've liked their work so far, or if you've been looking for a tuberose that stays at a level you can tolerate. (And, I'll add, there have been some highly positive mentions in the comments here.)
Durga by DS & Durga is $350 for 50 ml Eau de Parfum. For buying information, see the listing for D.S. & Durga under Perfume Houses.
Don't Tell Jasmine by Vilhelm Parfumerie
I initially regarded Vilhelm Parfumerie with some skepticism — at this point, I regard all new niche brands with some skepticism — but the few I've finally tried have impressed me. I believe they work (mostly? only?) with perfumer Jérôme Epinette. Jessica noted when she reviewed three of Vilhelm's early fragrances (Opus Kore, Room Service and Morning Chess) that the brand reminded her of another niche brand that has used Epinette's services, Byredo (yep, me too), but that she generally preferred Epinette's work for Atelier Cologne (and now we part ways). Based on admittedly limited data (I missed many of the early Vilhelm and later Atelier fragrances), I'll put my money, at least in the theoretical sense, on Vilhelm Parfumerie. I know I'm swimming against the tide here again, but with a few exceptions, Byredo and Atelier mostly leave me cold.
Don't Tell Jasmine is an exuberant floral that lives up to its name: if you don't love jasmine, there probably isn't much point in trying it. The jasmine is given a treatment that's similar to what they did with the fig in Purple Fig: a bright lemon-y citrus opening, then plenty of cassis, diluted here to what they're calling "kir". It's lighthearted and cheerful, but it's not a sheer fragrance; the jasmine is big, full, fruity, and it packs plenty of sillage and very good lasting power. It's what I'd call mildly indolic, but of course your mileage may vary. It's also sweet, although nothing like so sweet as say, Lush Lust.
Verdict: Great fun for jasmine freaks, and I will use every last drop of my lab sample. It would easily make my buy list if it were not so expensive — something else Vilhelm has in common with Byredo and Atelier Cologne.
Vilhelm Parfumerie Don't Tell Jasmine is $245 for 100 ml Eau de Parfum. The brand does now sell 18 ml travel sizes of most of its perfumes ($80) so that may be still to come. You can find the brand at Barneys or Liberty of London.