View all Lifestyle in Issue D


Damn – Diptyque is good!  Gone are the days when you would never consider buying yourself a candle let alone for anyone else as a gift ... remember the look of  disappointment when you’d unwrap that ‘oh-so familiar’ shape to reveal a plain red cylindrical candle that  smelt unsurprisingly of nothing but wax and let off a cloud of billowing black smoke when lit!! The only thing they were good for was inserting into an empty Mateus wine bottle to melt and produce a ‘lava-like’ trickle down the sides (what were we thinking?!)

Yes, times have changed and there are now a plethora of beautiful scented candles to choose from but the name on everyone’s lips is Diptyque ... as a growing brand they are going from strength to strength with stores and concessions worldwide and an ever growing range of carefully considered products.

Their story is a fascinating and heart warming one and I think that our readers will be drawn into it like a familiar fairytale.
Let’s go back to 1961 in Paris where three artistic friends opened a store at 34 Boulevard Saint-Germain to showcase and sell their fabric designs.  Out of interest, previous to this they were designing fabrics and wallpapers for Liberty and Sanderson!

Christiane Gautrot an Interior Decorator, Desmond Knox-Lee a Painter and Yves Coueslant a Theatre Administrator and Set Designer were ‘Merchants of everything’ and before long their store had been transformed into a quirky Bazaar offering a variety of unexpected items unique to Paris which the trio had bought back from their travels. – these artisans had no limits other than their  insatiable curiosity and keen sense of beauty.

In 1963 they began to explore their love of fragrances – firstly with their candles before launching their first eau de toilette, L’Eau, in 1968.  True to their heritage, the iconic black lettering on the renowned oval labels you now see have not changed since the launch of their products in the 60’s.  These purveyors of  fragrance initial introduction of candles were coloured as well as scented to match their distinctive fabric.

Diptyque has been producing a refined collection of ‘smells’ with a highly distinctive signature for over 40 years. Inspired by nature and travel – tree resin, exotic spice, delicately scented flowers and subtle notes of wood to name but a few these substances dominate yet complement one another giving Diptyque it’s distinctive, unmistakable personality.  Throughout it’s history , Diptyque has offered something different, an unusual olfactory landscape that is deliberately asexual without reference to the masculine or feminine.

For over 50 years, Diptyque have been perfecting the art of making scented candles – the creative comrades were passionate about re-creating scents from their exotic travels and childhood memories.  They capture the essences of  green figs, orange blossoms, tuberrose petals and black currant leaves to name but a few.  And for those of you unfamiliar with the art of Diptyque candle making, here are a few interesting facts!

  • Diptyque candles are made of a high quality vegetable/paraffin wax mix making them indisputably pure and safe.
  • Each Diptyque’s candle wax is properly distributed so your candle burns evenly which also means that it should burn for an average of  50 to 60 hours.
  • For those environmentalists out there each Diptyque candle is made with a cotton, lead-free wick!
  • Before the wax has completely cooled, the wicks are straightened by hand one by one and then trimmed down to a length of 3 millimetres.

The Iconic oval labels were designed by one of the three artisans, Desmond Knox-Lee taken from sketchbooks filled with his drawings. Each label captures a place, a scent, a memory of a partner’s personal history – a childhood growing up in Vietnam, a garden estate in Normandy, a summer spent in Greece.

As a Brand that has integrity, Diptyque has reached its 50th Anniversary and still holds it’s values close to its heart.  So what better way to celebrate than to launch 34 Boulevard Saint-Germain? A store named after the original birthplace of the company and a signature product range that encapsulates and embodies the brand – a unique scent for the body and the home.

Two years ago Myriam Badault the Director of development of Diptyque met Roman Kaiser (also known as a ‘fragrance thief”) to embark on this amazing adventure reminiscent of a quest akin to Patrick Suskind. The dilemma was huge….in essence the intention was to interpret  the memory of Diptyque and it’s rich history , one that is constantly being re-invented through new projects and in the notes of the emerging emblematic fragrance of the store. Eventually, to facet the fragrance, they decided to intensify the raw materials belonging to Diptyque’s palette the result being a scent that doesn’t belong to any olfactory family with an innovative and complex signature that is neither feminine or masculine.

The culmination and finer detail of this incredible journey was to recall the graphic and coloured fabrics made by Christiane Gautrot and Desmond Knox-Lee – each object is presented in a fabric sleeve printed with one of the brand’s most famous patterns: the Pretorie ... Burgundy, like the fascia of 34 for body products and Moss Green , like the walls in the Boutique for home products.

Go into any store and you’ll see for yourself the extensive range that Diptyque now produce – from the much loved scented candles to shower gels to scented ovals.

Whether you have a penchant for scented candles or not, I challenge you to either find a more beautifully packaged and aromatic range or find something else in their extensive selection of products that wouldn’t be a significantly scented addition to your home.

At the very least, if one day you’re given a Diptyque candle as a gift (and don’t appreciate the exquisite aromas) pass it on – 99.9% of people can’t be wrong!!!!

WORDS / Kevin Langridge