Call it the tennaissance. Because the racquet sport is clearly having a moment in stylish circles. There’s Copenhagen-based tennis imprint Palmes partnering with bicoastal podcast How Long Gone, cool brands like New York’s Bageled making a splash on and off the court and the fact that tournaments have become the place to see and been seen getting a fit off.
But as much as the style of the sport is enjoying its time in the sun, it seems like the scent of the sport is what’s really taking off. And if there was ever a sport to smell, it’s got to be tennis, right? Even those of us who don’t play certainly know that distinctive, chemically smell of cracking open a fresh can of balls. (Do any other balls come in cans?)
Just in time for the U.S. Open, cult fragrance brand D.S. & Durga is serving up a new scent inspired by the trappings of the sport. Part of the brand’s limited-edition “Studio Juice” collection, the fragrance is pure fun, from its cheeky name, Crush Balls, to its unexpected notes. Instead of mimicking the smell of, say, tennis balls, D.S. & Durga co-founder and perfumer David Seth Moltz tells HighSnobiety that he set out to capture “the vibe of tennis.” Hints of rubber and glue immediately recall a new can of Wilsons, yes, but the fragrance ventures beyond the immediately recognizable. Newly mown grass, rosemary, and a whisper of white florals create a crisp, citrusy effect, while a woody, ambery note Moltz dubs “hard court” softens the fragrance’s sharp opening.
Which is to say it takes a more abstract approach than other tennis-inspired scents on the market—of which there are quite a few. According to The Coveteur, there’s the Lacoste Limited-Edition Roland-Garros fragrance, Carner Barcelona’s Tennis Club perfume, Demeter’s Fuzzy Balls and the classic Soft Lawn by Imaginary Authors, just to name a few.
You might assume that the increase in the popularity of tennis and the fragrance is tied to nostalgia. “Prince made their mark in the ’70s and it still has that nostalgic feel,” says Snif’s cofounder Phil Riportella on the brand’s recent decision to collaborate with the old-school American tennis brand. Prince also worked with Vacation on a tall Ball Boy candle that evokes an open ball can. Light it up and you get not just a whiff of freshly uncanned tennis balls, but notes of the brand’s signature sunscreen scent, along with cotton sweatbands, and even some classy courtside cucumber sandwiches. Why play the sport when you can smell like the sport?