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Diptyque

How Diptyque Captures the Memory of Scent

This summer, Diptyque celebrates its 50th anniversary of fragrance by launching two new offerings at once: Fleur de Peau and Tempo. Inspired by the 1960s, the scents are made by longtime perfumer for the house Olivier Pescheux and the brand’s creative team. For the occasion, Diptyque called upon illustrators Dimitri Rybaltchenko (for Fleur de Peau) and Safia Ouares (for Tempo) to create special packaging for each—Tempo’s patchouli notes nodding to shamans in India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, and Fleur de Peau’s musky scent referencing the decade’s psychedelic movement.

In 1961, three friends—interior designer Christiane Gautrot, painter Desmond Knox-Leet, and theater director and set designer Yves Coueslant—opened a small shop in Paris at 34 Boulevard St.-Germain, on the corner of rue de Pontoise. Divided by two large windows, the shop resembled a diptych painting, which is how Diptyque got its name. At first, the store sold fabrics and wallpaper the trio created, but soon, dedicated to their travels, the shop began to offer unique items from around the world. The items, which were unavailable to Paris at that time, greatly reflected each partner’s taste, style, and adventure.

Diptyque

Pop-up shop in New York at 112 Mercer Street
Courtesy of Diptyque.

Abuzz with business, Diptyque needed a recognizable logo. Knox-Leet, a British World War II veteran, dug into his past for creativity. He remembered the oval medallion he once wore on his uniform, and the German codes he was trained to read and write. To keep the mystery alive, he drew a similar oval and staggered “Diptyque” in its center as its own creative code. In 1963, inspired by the scents they discovered around the globe, the founders created the first Diptyque candles—Aubépine, Cannelle, and Thé. Just five years later, Diptyque decided to stop importing goods and instead elaborate on re-creating moments in time for more bespoke candles and fragrances. For its first fragrance in 1968, they debuted a gender-free eau de parfum, L’Eau.

“When the first Diptyque fragrances were launched in 1968, it was a very special way of envisioning perfume,” Myriam Badault, creative director of Diptyque, told us on a recent trip to Paris. “What makes me feel very happy is that we’ve kept the same way of creating scent.”

Diptyque

Pop-up shop in New York at 112 Mercer Street
Courtesy of Diptyque.

Today, the shop at 34 Boulevard St.-Germain still stands. Wallpaper created by the founders lines the walls, welcoming visitors to explore old and new collections alike—each meant to evoke a fusion of feelings. Do Son, filled with scents of orange blossom and jasmine, harks back to Coueslant’s childhood in Indochina with his parents, recalling the town Do Son where their family pagoda was built. Figuier came from Coueslant and Gautrot’s trip to Greece in 1996 after the passing of Knox-Leet. Combining notes of fig and black pepper, it recalls a meaningful visit to the Acropolis.

Since the first eau de parfum, every transparent bottle has featured art on the back of the oval label. Diptyque hand-selects artists to create one-of-a-kind drawings to illustrate the memory the fragrance evokes, adding an additional hint of something secret. Today, those artistic collaborations continue, alongside limited-edition candle designs, like the recent holiday collection featuring celestial patterns by Philippe Baudelocque.

Diptyque

Fleur de Peau illustration by Dimitri Rybaltchenko
Courtesy of Diptyque.

“It’s really a blend of three talents—the nose of the perfume, the hand of the illustrator, and the eyes of the Diptyque creative team,” said Badault.

This spring, Diptyque also hosted its first-ever fragrance-only pop-up shop, at 112 Mercer Street in New York (March 12–May 31). Visitors experienced the many sights, smells, and scent memories of Diptyque, spread across fragrance walls and in multisensory installations, and drew upon their own. With the addition of Tempo and Fleur de Peau, Diptyque captured tradition and innovation, blending time and space for a scent memory unto its own.

Diptyque

Fleur de Peau illustration by Dimitri Rybaltchenko
Courtesy of Diptyque.

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Kelly Wearstler

THE WINTER EXPERIENCE ISSUE
2023

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