As an English teacher and literature expert, I’ve always been obsessed by the Gothic romance and the Victorian Gothic (being the first the works of Horace Walpole, Clara Reeve, Ann Radcliffe and Charles Brockden Brown, and the second the works of Edgar Allan Poe, Emily and Charlotte Brontë, just to name a few). What fascinates me most is not only the general atmosphere of these novels, but also the fact that most of them (this can be said especially for the Gothic romance) are permeated by the concept of the “exotic”, something distant in time (a touch of Medievalism is always there) and place (most of the novels are set in Italy – think of The Castle of Otranto, in Spain or in the Middle East). Exotic, with this meaning, is the ultimate escape from reality, from a time and a place we don’t feel comfortable in.
As a Diptyque fan , I think the adjective “exotic” can perfectly describe the scents of the French maison, because they are so peculiar that they always refer to faraway places and suggestions. Founded in 1961 by three friends (painter Desmond Knox-Leet, set designer Yves Coueslant and Christiane Gautrot, who was working in an architecture firm), Diptyque range includes several scents, home scents, candles and a body care line. All the products are distinguished by a pure white packaging and sleek bottles; all the stickers have the same shape and are printed in black.
I think Diptyque scents are the best out there. Though never been a die-hard fan of perfumes, I’ve turned into one when I first smelled L’Ombre dans l’Eau (that is The Shadow in the Water, in English; it was created by Serge Kalouguine and introduced in 1983). A friend of mine, who has been using Diptyque scents for a long time, told me this was the *perfect* perfume for me  and he was right indeed! It is described  as the scent of a green riverside garden, with blackcurrant leaves and Bulgarian rose. Since it has become my favourite perfume, I’ve also bought the body lotion.
Isn’t the sticker romantic, with the white swan swimming amidst water lilies?
L’Ombre dans l’Eau is built on an important flower base note, but it is also based on top citrus-green notes. For this reason, I started looking for a more floral scent, to wear in spring. Olene (created by Serge Kalouguine and released in 1988) came to the rescue. It is described as a deep, mysterious blend of fragrant white flowers. The water evokes a deep and mysterious twilight of white, slender and starry flowers (wisteria, jasmine and narcissus). I am a jasmin lover, and wearing this perfume is like walking through a jasmin garden, sublime!
The bottle of Olene has the traditional squared shape, the sticker has two cornucopias full of flowers, which is a correct symbol for the scent.
The third Diptyque scent I own is not an ordinary perfume, some do not consider a perfume at all. Vinaigre de Toilette (released in 1975) is intended to be a skin tonic and a multipurpose product. It is based on a 19th century recipe: it opens with a neroli note, followed by a herbal note clearly dominated by thyme and spices. It can be used as an after shave, bath oil, air freshener (some drops into a bowl of hot water), as a facial toner and hair brightener. I personally use it as a perfume as well, because the vinegar/herbal/spicy mix is so appealing.
The beautiful sticker of Vinaigre de Toilette has a pitcher and a bowl, a clear reference to the multiple uses of the product.
The boxes of these perfumes are all white, the labels have the same decorations as the ones on the stickers.
Diptyque is known for its fragrances but for its candles, too. The range of natural and hand-poured candles is incredibly complex – floral (Violette, Freesia and Gardenia, for example), fruity (Oranger, Oyedo, Figuier), herbal (Menthe Verte, Verveine and Mousses, for example), woody and spicy (Maquis, Opopanax and Pomander, for example). Diptyque candles, in their elegant glass jars, have become a glamourous object – designers Alexander Wang and Peter Som use them as pencil holders. A Diptyque candle (Baies) even appeared in Sex and the City, on the shelves in Carrie’s bedroom. I’m sure candles are the best-seller items in Diptyque stores, but I’d love to visit one of them just to enjoy the experience. The most famous shop is in 34 boulevard Saint Germain in Paris (the address is printed on all the boxes and stickers), but the shop in 8 rue de Francs Bourgeois is truly amazing.
The shop is very simple and modern, and exhudes French glamour.
In New York Diptyque has a store in Bleecker Street: in this case, the store is very different from the ones in Paris. There are more decorations (look at the ancient panel on the left, with some masked dancers on it) and more pieces of furniture, but the atmosphere is refined.
Most of the shop is based on the iconic contrast of black and white, one of the symbols of Diptyque.
At the moment I do not own a Diptyque candle, because my daughter is so young and I do not want to force her to smell such complex fragrances, but sooner or later I will surely want to try Baies (which is L’Ombre dans l’Eau in candle form), Violette, Roses, The and Pomander.
Are you a frequent user of perfumes and scented candles? Which are your favourites? Any Diptyque fan among my readers?
 If you are Facebook users, please check my “Diptyque Scents & Candles” gift application. If you are Flickr users, please check my “Diptyque Fragrances and Candles” group.
 He knew I love rose-scented perfumes, but with a twist.
 I think it’s quite useless trying to describe a perfume, because the sense of smell is absolutely subjective. Nonetheless, I’m giving you some general ideas about the actual smell of these perfumes and linking some good reviews.