When discussing fragrance with the elegant French expat Gregory Daniel, I had an epiphany: The French view scent in a different way than Americans; they view it from self outward rather than from outward to self. In other words, they wear scent to please themselves, not to please others.
This fact came to light in particular when we were talking about the best way to apply scent. Daniel said the most important place to apply scent is on the legs so the fragrance wafts up around you. You see, it’s not about someone else enjoying your scent as they embrace you or share elevator space with you. It’s about you enjoying it secretly all to yourself. When others enjoy it as well, it’s an added bonus.
Daniel knows a thing or two about scent. He is the Regional Sales Manager for diptyque, now my favorite fragrance company. Perhaps best known for their candles, and frequently featured in stories about celeb faves, diptyque actually began as a fabric house back in 1961. It’s a rare fragrance company, as it is not a branch of a large cosmetic corporation, nor has it sold out to a larger company. It’s still independent and it’s still all about fragrance, fragrance for the home and the body.
Unlike so many other fragrance lines, diptyque has remained true to its roots for more than 50 years. They are a fragrance house, pure and simple. They aren’t making fragrances with celebrity names or doing fragrance as a sidebar to luxury goods such as handbags, shoes and clothing. And it’s made right outside Paris, not in a nameless factory.
diptyque was begun by three art school friends: Christiane Gautrot, Desmond Knox-Leet and Yves Coueslant. Sadly, there is only one partner left (one died just a few weeks ago) but the company is staying true to its philosophy.
Part of that philosophy is that their money goes into ingredients and not to marketing. This is critical with fragrance, as cutting corners on ingredients definitely lessens the power and sophistication of the scent. And the costs are considerable. For example, Daniel said, one kilogram of rose essential oil costs $20,000. And they buy their rose oil from Turkey, which produces roses with a distinctly different scent than roses from other parts of the world. (I am in love with diptyque’s Eau Rose roll-on, which I keep in my handbag at all times.)
diptyque has been working with the same candle maker for 50 years and using eight different waxes with 12 percent fragrance in them. Their candles are iconic. I recently bought my first one, in a eucalyptus scent. I adore eucalyptus because it was the scent that permeated our wedding reception. As scent often does, the candle transports me back to that beautiful afternoon at Halekulani’s Hau Terrace.
In addition to candles, diptyque has introduced two innovative methods for delivery of home fragrance. The first is the hourglass diffuser (see above) which, when turned upside down, slowly drips the scent to the bottom carafe, scenting the area about six feet all the way around. It costs $145 and lasts from six months to a year.
The newest is an electric diffuser which can be plugged into nearly any type of outlet. When turned on, it pushes the scent out into the room. Although it’s pricey initially at $350, it comes with refillable cartridges , meaning you can change the scent in your room to match your mood.
I am always surprised at how different each diptyque scent is. They have one that smells just like a Girl Scout campfire. (I think it’s called Feu.) Another, Philosykos, is fig-based. Eau du Elle has the scent of vanilla from Madagascar.
I love that a lot of thought goes into diptyque’s packaging. Each theme tells a story or shares a slice of history. For the 2013 Dewali theme, designers Catherine Levy and Sigolene Prebois of Tse Tse created a language of symbols, sort of like a linguist creating symbols for a new language for the first time. It speaks to how there are festivals of light throughout the world. I dream of one day being in Santa Fe, New Mexico, for Christmas, when the city is awash with luminarias, little candles inside of bags with pukas poked in them.
Each fragrance also has a story behind it. The fragrance I am wearing daily right now is Doson. It was created and named by owner Yves Coueslant, whose mother is from Vietnam. He named the intriguing and exotic tuberose and orange leaf scent after a Vietnamese resort his mother loved.
It’s that personal involvement and thought that attract me to diptyque. It’s the quality and lasting fragrances that keep me going back. (And of course all the compliments I receive when wearing them!)
– Paula Rath