One of the first "niche" houses, Diptyque was founded in 1961 by three friends into design who opened their first boutique in boulevard Saint Germain in Paris. Thanks to their candles (available since 1963) and their fragrances (available since 1968), Diptyque has known a growth that seemed unprecedented for such a small project and they have created a dedicated following for those who are in the know. It was indicated to me when I first began being interested in alternative lines that there was this "secret" little brand that had been issuing cult scents in Paris and that everyone who was anyone would travel to get some of them. This was before the niche "craziness" that erupted in the late 90s and the 2000s. Another source had intimated that Lauren Bacall was making an annual pilgrimage every December to buy her Christmas candles from them. Marisa Berenson, the 70s style icon finds there the "haute couture in candles" while Philip Stark "the most Proustian fragrances". It was enough to convince me and Philosykos, a fragrance that captures perfectly the smell of a Greek, hot, dusty fig-tree in late August, sealed the deal for good and opened the door for many other things to follow.
Now, after a business takeover in 2005 by private equity fund, Manzanita Capital who nevertheless kept Yves Coueslant and Christiane Gautrot, the two remaining living founders, involved, Diptyque has seriously spread its wings into a new realm: Cutting back some of their stock, adding other products and now expanding with their L'art du Soin into the aromatic body skincare, a segment that was missing.
The new line is the equivalent of a scented voyage to the Mediterranean and each of the five products corresponds to a different entourage around the old, beloved mare nostrum.
The creamy gel for bath and shower is inspired by Alep, the city of authentic, old-fashioned soap, and is redolent of the olive oil and laurel smells that so often form the aromatic basis of good, handmade soaps.
The body milk is refreshing, perfumed by the joyful orange blossom which takes us to Alexandria, an oasis ante portas of the scorching desert.
The rich body cream is an illusionary trip to Byzantium, voluptuous, decadent and oriental and ready to spoil us with the luxurious (and expensive) argan oil, honey and rosewater.
The hand balm is a virtual trip to Cordoba where the apricot trees are laden with blossoms and it utilises the rich oil of apricot, karite butter and argan oil to nourish, repair and soften hands that take care of everything.
Last, but not least, the bath and body oil is an homage to the parfumers et gantiers of Florence, where the gloves of the aristocracy were fragranced with iris essence. The delicate and elegant scent has been added to a mixture of nourishing macademia nut oil, argan oil and sweet almond oil.
All the scents co-ordinate with each other and can be layered at will.
But perhaps the most interesting part is that they are devoid of aluminum, synthetic colourants and sulphates derived from petrochemicals, making the green movement we had discussed when talking about the Honoré des Prés fragrances a while ago all the more Parisian and fashion-savvy.
With Mediterranean inspiration behind them, I can't wait to try them out!
Available from March '09.
Pic via Jalougallery