Posted on December 10 2020
In 1961 an interior designer, Christiane Gautrot, and a painter, Desmond Knox-Leet, who worked together on the creation of fabrics and wallpapers for Liberty and Sanderson, involved Yves Coueslant, set designer, in the creation of a boutique at 34 Boulevard Saint Germain (and it is from the corner layout of the shop that the inspiration for the name will come).
Little by little, the love for perfume is inserted among the creations of furnishing fabrics: first by presenting to their customers fragrances of the English tradition then little known in France, and then with candles and perfumes of their own creation.
And it is difficult not to recognize that Diptyque has been and is a unique point of reference in the world of research perfumery.
We owe to Diptyque one of the best fig fragrances ever created: that Philosykos composed by Olivia Giacobetti, a refined and impressionist fragrance that for decades has fascinated us with its talk of Mediterranean landscapes saturated with light.
But it is from the very beginning that Diptyque stands out for its absolute originality and independence from fashions: in 1968, in the midst of contestation, where everyone rides the wave with essences of patchouli and surroundings, what do they do? They dust off a 16th century English recipe for potpourri and pomander: a very refined blend of flowers, citrus and spices. Thus was born L'Eau, their first fragrance.
The second act of this fragrant adventure shows, however, that Diptyque knows how to be even bolder: L'Autre (1973).
L'Autre is not only "other" than the first perfume, but it is "other" than our Western idea of perfume, our idea of pleasant.
And the smell of places and cultures we are not used to.
Suffice it to say that there are perfumeries that, despite selling Diptyque perfumes, this Autre no, do not want it.
An oriental perfume with no trace of sweetness or softness.
He doesn't want to seduce or be romantic, he wants to tell a story or a dusty landscape: Middle Eastern markets, unbearable heat, powerful smells.
A lashing and sharp explosion of dry and aromatic spices, including: cardamom, pepper, nutmeg, cumin.
And it is cumin, perhaps, the problem: to many noses it suggests associations that are not exactly pleasant (which is why L'Autre should only be worn if dressed impeccably).
Not everyone will like it, but those who have the courage to wear it will be rewarded with the opportunity to experience a decidedly new sensuality.