“Memories are the soul’s perfume”- George Sand
There is a corner of a street in Paris that will forever hold in its air and essence the name and memory of diptyque.
Maroon awning shelters from glistening autumn sunlight, the little boutique at the heart of the Paris’s 5th Arrondissement, cradling in its midst a sublime range of perfumes, scented candles and homeware.
The mythical 34 Boulevard St Germain is the birthplace of a brand still stunning, still beautiful and still cutting it after nearly 50 years.
Beginning in 1961, three friends, Christiane Gatrot, Desmond Knox-Leet and Yves Coueslant came together to launch this beautifully crafted, finely honed tiny shop in which to display their textile creations, and “inhabited objects”. Respectively, an interior designer, a painter and a theatre director, the 3 friends came together to utilise their unique skill bases and to create modern magic, opening the store on 34 Boulevard Saint Germain, offering their own soft furnishings as well as some of the biggest English names in Perfume.
They then moved from this veritable bazaar of curios, carrying through the idea of the inhabitation of objects and memory, and into Homeware candles in 1963.
The evolution of diptyque saw the building of an incredible olfactory landscape- their scents unequivocally rivalling classical perfumery of the time- as they strove to produce fragrance that spun up, in an instant, memories- olfactory portals to seemingly distant moments.
And what truly captured all our many hearts and imagination was their move into Fragrance. Passionate about recreating nostalgic scents whose roots grip to moments from travels and childhood, the three members of diptyque began their line of fragrances with their first eau de toilette L’Eau in 1968.
L’Eau Diptyque, Eau de Parfum
Before we had niche, before we had unisex, gender-free fragrance, we had l’Eau by diptyque, a scent that could be worn by both man and woman, inspired by a 16th-century potpourri recipe and the scent of pomanders. Before the turn of 20th century, perfume had always been what we now call “genderless”, or unisex, yet following post-war anxieties surrounding changing gender roles, it then gradually became an inherently divided and gendered part of industry. diptyque, however, went, as always, against the stream and in their own direction- creating bespoke fragrances that were for both man and woman, focusing on memory and synaesthetic experience over everything.
For over 40 years, they have created a whole range of fragrances, inspired by both nature and travel, where subtle florals mixed with exotic spice and heady tree resin are but a few of the extraordinary ingredients that make up diptyque’s fairytale-like scents.
True to their heritage, they have never parted from the iconic swirl of black lettering on oval labels, an emblematic shape for the brand as a pattern found on the Prétorien fabric designed by Desmond Knox-Leet in 1963. Their personality lies within a minimal aesthetic and close attention to detail and their stamp marks them out from the rest.
Their Home fragrance candles equally speak directly to diptyque’s heart and heritage, using first-class mineral and plant-based waxes. Every scent is blended to reach the perfect burning temperature.
Reaching a pinnacle 50th year of pioneering creativity, the brand launched, in 2011, the 34 collection. This was an olfactory challenge to challenge most- capture the essence, heart and core of what is and will forever be that little corner in Paris- 34 Boulevard Saint Germain. The bottling of the flagship store, a blend of fresh spices, blond and luminous wood, and green, acidulated notes, in this meta-narrative of perfume, gave everyone the ability to experience the brand’s history and heritage in a fragrance for both body and home.
When you lead as diptyque do there is no worry. Just to keep on with the mission of celebrating three creatives from a little corner of Paris.