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 , 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?