Diptyque Celebrate 50 Fine Smelling Years

The trippy scent of '68.

BY sueann chong | Apr 17, 2018 | Grooming

All images courtesy of Diptyque

The year was 1968, the streets of Paris were filled with demonstrators consisting of workers and students protesting the French government. The civil unrest, which lasted for weeks spurred more of a cultural revolution rather than one of political motives.

That same year, three friends who managed a corner shop at 34, Saint Germain were making history of their own. Although Desmond Knox-Leet, Christiane Gautrot and Yves Coueslant were part of the upheaval taking place outside, they were also busy creating a stir of their own inside.

Bonded by their love of art and design, the three – a painter, interior architect and theatre set designer – filled their concept store Diptyque with collection of interesting curios. Intricate lanterns, delicate china and collectable notebooks along with some homemade treasures such as candles, potpourri and printed fabrics adorned the boutique. Believing that they were onto something with their scented candles, they decided to use their keen sense of sniffing out an idea and venture into fragrance-making. Thus, a singular fragrance they named L’Eau was born!

L’Eau a genderless perfume, the first of its kind, would become a benchmark of sophistication and story-telling for their fragrances to follow.  A fusion of spices and a remembrance of medieval pomander that consisted of old roses, cinnamon, orange and clove, it was conceived by Desmond, who was the brand’s self-proclaimed “nose.”

What makes it special, as it does all Diptyque fragrances the unexpected note in the scent that gives it its edge – in this case, ginger. This has been the brand’s narrative since Diptyque’s first eau de toilette and is part of the brand’s identity which remains until today.

Fast-forward 50 years and Diptyque has become a household name in Parisian perfumery and scented candles. Every Diptyque scent has its own back-story along with an illustration as part of its narrative.

To celebrate the birth of its first fragrance, the maison has chosen to pay tribute to this special occasion by creating two more scents to add to its wonderful repertoire, thus welcoming their 36th and 37th opuses, Tempo and Fleur de Peau respectively.


Tempo is inspired by music of the  ‘60s, the era that brought the world the Flower Power movement and in which L’Eau was conceived. It was a time when globetrotting travellers brought to Paris sounds from the Orient. While sitars, tablas and wah-wah guitars shifted the music movement, patchouli would give fragrances a sense of exoticism. Conjured by perfumer and long-time friend of Diptyque, in Tempo Olivier Pescheux revisits the patchouli theme.

Combining three different extractions sourced from sustainable supply chains in Sulawesi, Tempo consists of bitter and spicy notes such as wild cocoa beans, pink peppercorns and amber. Hints of fruity and floral notes from bergamot and fresh jasmine proffer the scent a deeper, darker tone, while the olfactory surprise here is violet.

Meanwhile the artwork weaves a tale of an enchanted forest in which a shaman who communicates with the land lives amongst animals and spirits who roam free.

Fleur de Peau

Another significant wave that swept through Europe and across the world in the ‘60s was dubbed “The Summer Of Love.” People were embracing the practise of yoga, transcendental meditation, vegetarianism and sitting around in spiritual circles chanting the mantra “aum.” Capturing that heady period, Olivier Pescheux’s Fleur de Peau envisions an era of free love and loosening inhibitions.

With notes such as iris, Turkish rose and ambrettolide, which is a musk-like essence found in hibiscus, the overall sense this potion dances between leathery, powdery and fruity facets, not unlike the smell of bare skin, while the olfactory note is derived from ambrette seeds and iris.

Artist Dimitri illustrated this calming sensual scent by drawing from the meaning behind the word “psychedelic”. In it a beautiful princess falls in love with Aphrodite’s son and the lovers embrace in a state between dizzying dreams and hallucinations to bear a child called Voluptuousness. Think about that when you light up your candle and ohm.