Capturing the ‘essence’ of life in a bottle with Diptyque
Perfumer Olivier Pescheux from world-renowned candle and perfume maker Diptyque tells us how.
Step into the diptyque boutique on 34 Boulevard Saint Germain with its eye-catching crimson façade and you’ll be pleasantly assailed with the rich aromas of perfume in the air.
This boutique is the very first store of the renowned perfume and candle maker, and it continues to stand proudly, declaring its heritage with its array of quality candles, soaps and perfumes lining the tables and shelves. Customers – locals and foreigners alike – could be seen walking into the store, having a chat with the friendly staff, sniffing a scented candle or perfume here and there, and then leaving with their beautifully wrapped purchases and a smile on their faces. And did you know, this boutique is included in the must-visit attractions for Japanese tourists visiting the city of love.
Such is the draw of this now iconic store that to commemorate its 50th anniversary, Diptyque decided to capture its ‘essence’ in a bottle. Olivier Pescheux of Givaudan was tasked with the bold challenge of recreating the unique scent of the boutique. In a rare interview with the famed perfumer, held above the very boutique which inspired the perfume, Pescheux revealed how he created the signature fragrance line aptly called 34 Boulevard Saint Germain.
Utilising a Givaudan proprietary technology called ScentTrek that’s designed to capture and perfectly render the scents emitted by flowers or plants without disturbing the environment, Pescheux likens the idea to covering a plant with a glass dome from which vapour is extracted – basically capturing the smell. Of course, it is hard to cover an entire boutique with a glass dome, so what he did was to spray on blotters different perfumes of Diptyque, and then cover the scented blotters with glasses. He did the same with different candles too.
“I came here with a chemist from my company, a specialist of this technology,” says Pescheux. “We have tried many, many combinations. My colleague, Roman, left the boutique with almost 30 analyses and went back to his laboratory in Switzerland and two months later he came back to me with different analyses and different reconstitutions of what he had found in the boutique. And so I started to work from these data and I’ve tried step by step to catch into a bottle the olfactory DNA of the boutique. I also worked very closely with Myriam Badault, the marketing director of Diptyque to narrow down all the analyses and information that we had, to the main ones that were, for us, close to the scent that we had felt in the boutique.”
The entire project took almost two and a half years but the result was well worth it. Consisting of fragrances for the body and home, 34 Boulevard Saint Germain was launched in 2011 to great success, a perfect embodiment of the ‘soul’ of the beloved original boutique.
Like how the seasons evolve from winter to spring and summer, so do the people’s tastes and preferences. Spring and summer means lighter, fresher notes as compared to the more sensual, woody scents of winter. So it was somehow fitting that Diptyque introduced to us their latest addition to the line, L’Eau Du Trente-Quatre, at the time when winter was segueing into spring, right there in the boutique itself.
When asked how long it took to develop this fragrance, Pescheux replied, “It was much less difficult because we knew what we wanted to do. So the question after that was, where do we stop? It is fresh enough? Actually, if you compare the formula, the ingredients are the same, it is only the balance between the ingredients, that is different.”He was comparing this scent with that of the room spray from the earlier 34 range. “People come into the boutique and said, ‘I like the room spray, can I use it as eau de toilette?’ Actually, yes, but it is not so sophisticated so the idea came after that maybe we should also rework something from the room spray but make it a little easier, as an eau de toilette. So that’s how we moved from the room spray to L’Eau Du Trente-Quatre.”
Presented in an oval bottle designed to reflect the brand’s iconic labels, the top citrus notes are balanced with white musk so the fragrance is easy to wear and also a little bit sensual. According to Pescheux, men and women of all ages will be able to associate themselves with this new scent. “L’Eau Du Trente-Quatre is comfortable and timeless,” he says. “I’m sure this will be very well accepted in Asia.”
This article has previously appeared in the June 2013 issue of Malaysia Tatler.