The first Eau


Desmond Knox-Leet drew on a respected, but long lost, formulation to create diptyque’s first eau de toilette. Spicy and adapted to each and every genre, « L’Eau » is secretly in tune with the upheaval of customs and the thirst for the exotic of its time.

Opening its doors in 1961, the diptyque boutique distributed and promoted English perfumes. It was probably the only store to do so. One of these was Culpeper’s pomander based on dried oranges peppered with cloves from Indonesia.

For the record, the pomander was scented with ambergris, a strong smelling substance produced in the digestive tract of the sperm whale. The ingredients were contained in perforated balls that an individual carried about on their person. The word then came to mean the fragrance receptacles that had developed into silverware items and gifts of choice as much for their value as for the imagined virtues of ambergris. From the XVIth century, a pomander came to mean the blend of plant material that aimed to scent a room and that usually included citrus fruit peppered with cloves and spices.

Already hard at work in the boutique’s workshop putting together the ingredients for the fragrances of the first candles, Desmond Knox-Leet found himself creating his own mixed pomander paste inspired by an XVIth century English recipe that included notes of cinnamon, rose, clove, geranium and sandalwood. This stunningly scented paste gave him the idea to turn it into a perfume. He took it to a perfumer to have it transformed into a fragrance using alcohol. This first eau de toilette would become « L’Eau ».

This eau de toilette was envisaged as a style statement not a genre. It broke the mould at the time, spices not being the norm for other fragrances on the market. Also « L’Eau » was the matrix for future diptyque eaux de toilette as the name would be an echo of the o in ensuing scents; not just because of its exoticism that mysteriously enhanced the voyage down memory lane or around the world, but also because of its characteristic of being dedicated to all and of being blithely of its era.