The Charm of the Unfamiliar: My Diptyque Collection Is Growing!

I’ve always had a nostalgic attitude toward things and situations I lived in past years, so I guess this is the reason why my memory is one of my (if not *the*) most treasured abilities I own. I’m not referring to eidetic memory only, but to the ability to recall sounds (it’s not a coincidence if I only listen to music of the past) and smells (this is probably the less developed type of memory). Far from being affected by hyperthymesia (a superior autobiographical memory, from the Greek θύμησις, thymesis, meaning “memory”), it’s true I remember lots of – apparently trivial – details, that stay with me for a long time and somehow keep me company.

I’ve just said that memory of smells is my less developed type of memory, but this has changed since I first started using Diptyque perfumes. Now that I’m a collector (I own 6 scents, plus Vinaigre de Toilette), I can say that these perfumes have no comparison with what I used before. Each Diptyque scent opens the doors of one’s memory, allowing him/her to step inside a mysterious world or to take a journey down memory lane. This is what happened with the latest additions to my small collection – Tam Dao and L’Eau.

Tam Dao, created by Daniel Moliere in 2003, is from the woody family: Diptyque describes it as “memories of the East, the precious, sacred scent of sandalwood in the heat of an Asian jungle.”, referring to the origin of its name, a Vietnamese hill station north of Hanoi. Its notes include cedar, rosewood, cypress, ambergris and sandalwood, being the latter the most distinctive; yet, what incredibly appeals to me is the incense note, a top note which makes is special. This point brings me back to the late 90’s, when I started wearing Cacharel Pour l’Homme, a magical and melanchonic scent I still love because of its strong incense tone. Tam Dao is not as linear as the perfume by Cacharel, but it’s equally magical: it’s soothing, calm, even sweet, in a very minimal, Oriental way.

One of the reasons why I love Diptyque is the bottle (the same shape for all the line) and the oval sticker on it, printed with graphics reminiscent of the perfume itself and of its sources of reference. In this case, the recurring theme is the elephant: the sticker depicts four of them (two are standing on a brige, one is walking on a road and the last one is just sitting under the capital letter “A”); the label also includes trees, branches and tiny flowers.

Here is a close-up of the bottle: aren’t the elephants cute? It’s not coincidental that three of them have the trunks raised, a symbol of good luck and fortune. I’ve bought Tam Dao a couple of weeks ago, to celebrate the end of this school year, and I’ve worn it since then: in my mind, it’s an extremely exotic perfume, perfectly in tune with the strange summer (very rainy and humid) we’re having here.

The second perfume I’ve recently bought is L’Eau, the first Diptyque fragrance ever: created in 1968 by Desmond Knox-Leet (he’s one of the founders of the French brand, along with Yves Coueslant and Christiane Gautrot; he also created Eau Lente, in 1986), it’s described as “an infusion of spices and flowers inspired by a 16th century recipe”.

L’Eau is a clove-fest, because its most predominant note – according to my nose – is clove; other notes include cinnamon and rose (as top notes), geranium (middle note) and sandalwood (the base note, along with clove). It’s a nicely spicy fragrance, sweetened by rose and geranium, perfect for winter nights.

The oval label on the bottle and on the box clearly speak of the perfume itself, whose background is fascinating: the “16th century recipe” I’ve referred to a couple of lines above, was a pomme d’ambre, the French word for pomander [1], originally a perfumed ball, contained into a silver or gold spherical cases. This object, imported from the Arab world in the 13th century, was first used as a protection against infection in times of pestilence and, later, against bad smells. The connection between pomanders and winter is not coincidental, because the modern version of a pomander is an orange studded with cloves, traditionally made for winter holidays.

The sticker is decorated by a weaved basket full of leaves, lemons and pomanders, in their contemporary version. I admit I still haven’t fully got this perfume: I haven’t used it a lot, because I bought it just before spring (and this is not a spring scent at all), but I will surely appreciate it next winter.

I’ll spend my summer alternating L’Eau des Hesperides and Tam Dao: what will you wear? Do you have a favourite summer scent or do you prefer wearing the same perfume all year round?

[1] Pomander is one of Diptyque candles and a room spray, aptly described as “a delicious orange studded with cloves and cinnamon, the spicy scent of winter”.

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8 comments

  1. I love this post! I agree, Tam Dao is the perfect summer scent. I often use it, when I’m not using my other super favourite Peppermint Sherbet by Comme des Garçons.

  2. I have L’Ombre dans L’eau and Vetyverio by Diptique – love them both, and as you’ve said – they keep a lot of memories for me. A sales lady gave me too scents as a testers when I bought Vetyverio: Tam Dao and Doo San but I gave them to my mom and don’t remember the scents unfortunately 😦 But having an abroad trip soon I’m surely going to pop to a Diptique counter and try new ones!
    What are other Diptique scents you have?

    1. I tried Vetyverio at my trusty perfume shop but it didn’t impress me much. If I were you, I’d surely give Tam Dao a try, it’s amazing.

      I also have Olene, L’Eau, L’Eau des Hesperides, Philosykos, Vinaigre de Toilette and L’Ombre dans l’Eau, which is probably my favourite.

  3. Tam Dao is amazing!!!now I want to try Vetyverio on my skin too- so far I’ve only smelled it on paper.
    Last summer, i used a perfume by Kenzo, Eau de Fleur de The, and I can see myself using it this summer too! I also love Hermes’ Un Jardin Dans Le Nil (I have actually had a quarrel with my mum over this fragrance :S).
    I have a winter fragrance, Chance by Chanel. I’ve had it for three years and haven’t yet used it all, I find it too heavy. These days, I only wear it when it rains, probably because when I first tried it on (and liked it very much) it was raining, too. I don’t think I’ll be buying it again, although I find it weirdly romantic to have a perfume “for the rain”.

    1. It’s romantic indeed! I usually don’t like Chanel perfumes, but I cannot help using Chanel n°5, because it strangely reminds me of a perfumed water (by Atkinsons) I had when I was a child.

      Now I’m curious: why did you argue with your mother for the perfume by Hermès?

  4. Noto con piacere che continui ad incrementare la tua collezione di Diptyque:)
    Il mio ultimo Diptyque è stato Oyedo…del quale però non sono rimasta troppo soddisfatta, le tue opinioni in merito?
    Mi chiedevo poi se il tuo interesse per la profumeria artistica spaziasse anche verso altri marchi..
    Io al momento sto usando un sample di Mente Fraiche di Heeley, un’ottima menta piperita fresca addolcita dalla fresia.

    1. Ciao Elisa!
      Oyedo non ce l’ho presente, mi dispiace, ma proprio oggi vorrei andare in profumeria a provare Opone, quindi ne approfitterò per provarlo!
      No, finora non ho mai provato profumi di altri marchi. Mi attraggono le acque di Santa Maria Novella, ma su di me durano pochissimo, quindi non le ho mai comprate. Mi attrae anche Annick Goutal, ma anche in quel caso non mi sono mai decisa a comprare nulla. Prima o poi voglio assolutamente provare qualcosa di Creed (magari il Fleur de Thè Rose Bulgare, dovessi mai diventare milionaria ;)) o di Penhaligons, ma per ora rimango fedele a Diptyque.

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