Voyages in calm waters


The eulogy of travel courses through the annals of diptyque: one sniff and you’re already on your way. Real tides, imaginary shores, crossed horizons and stationary cruises, a taste for the big wide blue is not a seasonal fad. Perfume is a means of transport.

« For diptyque, perfume is an art and art is a journey. » This phrase may seem a little over the top but it is, nevertheless, anchored in the deep waters of many remembered seas and a profusion of vagabond reveries enjoyed by the founders and their heirs. Since L’Eau, the company’s first eau de toilette, appeared in 1968, diptyque fragrances have drawn their scent from memories of dreamy, far flung lands: art here means the transcription of images and impressions using perfume and the creation of fragrances that fashion imaginary spaces and the nostalgia of memories yet to come. Illustrations in Indian ink help to create these connections. Travel is a big word.

All this was kick-started by the three founders, whose lives and tastes spanned different countries, open water, alternative ways of doing things and global aromas. Yves Coueslant spent his childhood in the Far East, lulled by travel in a liner from France before crisscrossing Europe in his capacity as a theatre tour administrator. Desmond Knox-Leet’s Scottish family emigrated to Ireland and he was raised on exotic stories and ingredients from the British Empire. Christiane Montadre had a taste for the traditional graphic arts of the Maghreb and travelled there frequently. The three friends also had their favourite places: the Mediterranean basin and south-east Asia.

L’Eau was just the symbolic voyage of a fresh water sailor dreaming of other climes, its olfactive inspiration going back to the Renaissance and its collective aspiration the spirit of an era free from traditional yokes: it was already the norm to cast off. L’Autre was a tribute to Syria of that time and to other highly civilised societies, L’Eau-Trois evoked the monasteries on Mt Athos, Philosykos a field of wild fig trees in Greece overlooking the sea, Volutes would recall a child smelling tobacco on large liners sailing from Saigon to Marseilles, Tam Dao and Do Son the Vietnam of yesteryear when it was still part of French Indochina, Olène holidays in Venice and Ôponé spices from the dreamy orient of Antiquity… And it is every eau by diptyque that should be mentioned.

Travel denotes somewhere that is no longer here. Perfume denotes a distant now, evocations, escape, mirages, wanderings, the unknown, getting away, a change of scene, revelations and recollections… This esoteric art of travelling via perfume is one of harmony, bringing distance places, dreams, eras and landscapes together in one internal manifestation.