Friday, November 2, 2012

Fragrant Combinations for Fall: From the Rustic to the Spiritual

The art of scent combining is a fine and precarious one at once. A delicate blend can be completely overtaken by a more forceful presence, while a rich, hefty aroma can become overwhelming when mixed with another scent, creating more of a stuffy atmosphere than a delicious, inviting one. When dealing within these parameters it's probably an art best left to the professionals or to indulge with simple/single-note scents, but some gentle guidance can end up prompting you to experiment with good results. After all, it's nothing inescapable, right?


Diptyque offers a small guide of scent combinations of its famous candles for scenting your space -a sort of olfactory landscaping- reminiscent of the autumnal season, all burnished gold and rust. The combinations are calculated to bring on a third presence, often vaguely familiar or reminiscent of specific fine fragrances which I will quote below and urge you to sniff to try and catch their nuances anew. Actually Diptyque have championed the art of scent layering since their very beginning.

For instance, their recommended combination of Feu de Bois and Pomander brings to mind the Christmas festivities with their smoky, log-fire note coupled with the orange & cloves spice of the classic pomander. It's a layering of notes that reminds me of Noir Epices by Frederic Malle with its intense clove and darkness, of Coup de Fouet and Poivre by Caron as well as of the classic, pre-reformulation Opium by Yves Saint Laurent.
Opoponax and Maquis brings on the softness of the resinous note of opoponax (that hazy flou so compelling in Guerlain's Shalimar and Habit Rouge and indeed in Diptyque's own home spray Opopanax) alongside the rustic tonality of the countryside with its woody aroma full of everlasting flowers, rich like maple syrup oozing off a hungry spoon. The combination echoes the newest fragrance issued by Diptyque, Volutes, inspired by a memorable voyage the founder took from Marseilles to Saigon.
Roses and Patchouli of course is a time trusted combination, almost a classic, the two smelled together creating the impression of dark, leafy roses unfurling to eternity...The melange is explored in the pre-empting Voleur de Roses by L'Artisan Parfumeur as well as many other modern fragrances, from Lady Vengeance (Juliette has a Gun), Portrait of a Lady (F.Malle) and Hippie Rose (Heeley) to Idylle Duet Rose Patchouli (Guerlain).
Cypr├Ęs and Myrrhe are evocative of a Mediterranean spot darkened by the bitterish tinge of the resinous, Middle-Eastern myrrh. The common resinous quality of the cypress wood and the -prized since antiquity- "tears" combine into an ambery-woody scentscape that is introspective, grounding and spiritual. Molton Brown makes a hand wash combining these two notes with musk, making for a little Persian exoticism in your bathroom.

The season is full of opportunities for scented adventures and a little playfulness goes a long way. On a subsequent post I will reveal what the staff at the Diptyque boutique suggest as scent combinations for creating quite another mood... ;-)


  1. One of the most fun fragrance experiences I had was visiting a Diptyque boutique and having the sales associate show us the candles, she was really wonderful about it, and really loved how unique the fragrances were. The opoponax seriously reminded me of Shalimar and the gardenia was so interesting with the use of gardenia leaves (actually wish this was used more in perfumery). An American brand that I really enjoy is Voluspa, their Baltic Amber candle is one of my all time favorite scents.

  2. Diptyque, rightfully so, are the best candles I have ever experienced. I used to not really care for candles or scents - maybe a perfume every two years for m-o-i. Until, I discovered the pleasure of experiencing Diptyque's divine scents. Now, I don't think I go a day without lighting a candle as soon as come home from work. Feu de Bois and Figuier are my favorite, and lighting them together is just the most sublime my house has ever smelled.

  3. Anonymous04:40

    Oh, no! Your wonderful blog has introduced me to many natural fragrances I could not resist. Now that my budget has recovered, I crave the ambient fragrances and candles you have been reviewing lately. How tempting! But what do you think of juniper and civet? Or melissa and pear? I feel a new obsession creeping up on me.


  4. brie20:31

    I love combining various scents and have been doing so for many years with body products, essential oils and fragrances.However, the combining of scent with candles is a new concept for me and one that I must explore....thanks for the suggestion!!!!

  5. Jen,

    the opopanax is indeed very similar to Shalimar's building block. I had mentioned that when reviewing the room fragrance spray (which I call my Shalimar Lite when scenting the bed). ;-)
    Gardenia leaves is such a great thinks of all the beauty of the flower combined with that greenery. Ah!
    Have heard good things about Voluspa but haven't access to them. :-(

  6. VJ,

    that's a combo I was about to include in my next Diptyque candles post ;-)

    Good for you!!

  7. Isabella,

    thank you I guess, though I know the wallet suffers from it, LOL!

    Melissa and pear sound very nice indeed. I wonder whether there are any single-note candles out there with those notes (I'd think pear would be harder).

  8. brie,

    you're welcome! It's amazing how a simple two scents combo can create more than the sum of its parts. :-)


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