Diptyque 101- Five to Get You Started

It wasn’t my first niche fragrance but it was the first perfume which burrowed deep into my consciousness and wouldn’t let go. Around the year 2000 I would have a sales associate spray a patch of skin with Diptyque Philosykos. This lead to many many visits to the Diptyque boutique as I slowly explored this exemplary line of perfumes. Over the forty-plus years Diptyque has been making fragrance they have produced one of the best collections available as well as working with some of the best perfumers available. Diptyque has stood for quality within the niche sector for as long as it has existed. If you haven’t tried the line here are five to get you started.

Philosykos by perfumer Olivia Giacobetti is a brilliantly transparent fig perfume. It is one of the greatest perfumes created in the last twenty-five years. Mme Giacobetti captures every part of a fig tree from the leaves to the wood finally landing on the fruit itself. It made me love fig-based perfumes and simultaneously set a ridiculously high bar for every one which has come after.

What Mme Giacobetti did for fig; perfumers Daniel Moliere and Fabrice Pellegrin do for sandalwood in Tam Dao. Tam Dao is an exploration of sandalwood in three acts as you move from top through the heart to the base. At each part of the development there is something which draws your focus to a different perspective. It has the same kind of sheer quality as Philosykos which makes it a versatile fragrance for all occasions.

diptyque leau de tarocco

I have hundreds of citrus perfumes in the vault but there are only a few which have truly risen above the mob. One of them is L’Eau de Tarocco by perfumer Olivier Pescheux. The opening is one of the juiciest citrus accords in my collection. M. Pescheux transforms it from sweet sun into smoldering spicy rose as saffron and cinnamon add to the rose. This ends on a fantastic musk and frankincense base. One of the few citrus perfumes which can be worn in the cold as well as the warmth.

Vanilla is just so vanilla it is difficult to make it interesting. Perfume Fabrice Pellegrin manages to do that with Eau Duelle. By using two sources of vanilla a light and a dark one. He creates Tao-like duality which M. Pellegrin cleverly uses throughout the entire composition as spices like cardamom and saffron find space next to tea and cypress wood. A fantastically complex vanilla perfume.

Fabrice Pellegrin was also responsible for Volutes. The more I wear Volutes the more I realize I underestimated how good this was in my early testing and wearing. Given the perspective of time I realize M. Pellegrin has created one of the best tobacco scents I own. Immortelle and Orris provide the opening through which the narcotic richness of the tobacco swirls through. Myrrh and styrax provide a base of resinous depth.

The entire DIptyque line is worthy of exploration especially because besides these five there are some advanced style of perfumes which will surprise and delight any perfume lover. Before you get to those start with these five they will introduce you to one of the original niche perfume brands.

Disclosure: Reviews based on bottles of each fragrance I purchased.

Mark Behnke

My Favorite Things: Sandalwood

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For this installment of My Favorite Things I’m going to name my five favorite sandalwood perfumes. Sandalwood as a fragrance note is one of the more frequently used ingredients especially as a base note. Most of the sandalwood you encounter in these fragrances is synthetic. There original source of real sandalwood oil in the mid-20th century was from Mysore in India. It was sadly over harvested and is now protected. This caused perfumers to work with both synthetics and alternative sources of sandalwood from Australia and New Caledonia. Nothing has adequately replaced real Mysore sandalwood but the five fragrances below are special sandalwood perfumes on their own basis.

bois des iles

Chanel Bois des Iles– When Ernest Beaux originally created Bois des Iles in 1926 I am reasonably certain it was full of Mysore sandalwood. When Jacques Polge brought it back for the Exclusif line it is said there isn’t a drop of sandalwood at all in the reformulation. I’ve smelled vintage and the Exclusif side by side and accounting for age M. Polge has pulled off one of the great olfactory illusions, ever.

Diptyque Tam Dao– Perfumers Daniele Moliere and Fabrice Pellegrin create a sandalwood fragrance in three acts. Act one is sandalwood and rosewood which is liltingly fragile. The second act adds clean cedar to make the sandalwood equally delineated. Act three takes ambergris as a foundation to accentuate the sweet qualities of sandalwood. For many people this is the gateway to loving sandalwood as a fragrance.

Dries-van-noten-frederic-malle-3

Dries van Noten par Frederic Malle– Frederic Malle claimed in the press materials that this is the same species of sandalwood as Mysore but grown in a sustainable way. I have my doubts but perfumer Bruno Jovanovic keeps it simple using saffron, jasmine, and vanilla to frame the sandalwood gorgeously. Who cares where it came from?

Sonoma Scent Studio Cocoa Sandalwood– Perfumer Laurie Erickson wanted to make an all-natural perfume for her line and Cocoa Sandalwood was the first in this series. She takes New Caledonian Sandalwood and wraps it in spices and dusts it with arid cocoa powder. When people tell me natural perfume can’t have depth and richness I hand them my bottle of this to end that conversation.

Xerjoff Richwood– When I want my sandalwood straight with no chaser this is the one I reach for. Perfumer Jacques Flori uses real Mysore sandalwood at the heart and cassis, rose, and patchouli are present. Those three notes really just serve to draw out the complexity of the real thing. I think it is the single best sandalwood fragrance I own.

These are a few of my favorite sandalwoods but there are a couple I would have included if they weren’t discontinued; Crabtree & Evelyn Sandalwood and Amouage Sandal Attar. If you love sandalwood both of these are worth the effort of seeking them out through online sources.

Mark Behnke