One of the things I’ve noticed over time is brands begin to reach middle-age and settle for a consistent aesthetic over anything else. It makes me a bit sad when a brand which began with fresh ideas and directions reaches this stage. They begin to look like that person who doesn’t realize they’re not young and hip anymore. There are exceptions some of the seminal brands which provided the foundations of niche perfumery have managed to not lose their youthful vision while getting their senior citizen discount.
One which has lived up to keeping it going has been Diptyque which is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. It has been a reminder of what this brand has stood for. Diptyque Venise is emblematic of this.
Creative director Myriam Badault wanted to capture the gardens of Venice. If you’ve ever visited a private residence in the Italian city behind the walls are these gorgeous gardens/courtyards. When I’ve visited sitting outside hearing the water traffic while sipping wine among the flowers is as good as life gets. Mme Badault wasn’t thinking of a flower garden for her Venetian fragrance. She was thinking about what an Italian might grow to use in their kitchen. Working with perfumer Cecile Matton they create just that. This results in a very green and vegetal perfume.
It begins with a green Bell pepper accord. If you’ve ever sliced a green pepper, there is a pungency as you slice through it. Mme Matton captures the entirety of that. A citrusy accompaniment adds an extra bit of sharpness. The heart of Venise is tomato particularly the vines they grow on. Tomato leaf has become a popular ingredient. Here it is given more room to spread out intertwining with the green pepper on the vine next to it. Through it all runs an herbal thread of basil. This is the garden part.
The water part comes in the presence of vetiver. There are vetiver fractions which have a subtle aquatic undertone. I am guessing that is what Mme Matton uses here. The grassy green of vetiver softens some of the sharper edges of the garden trio. While that subtle watery aspect reminds you where you are.
Venise has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
Venise is the sixth release in this anniversary year. It is an ideal place for Mme Badault to take a curtain call on her ability to keep things relevant for this long.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Nordstrom.
Of all the questions I am asked about perfume, “What is your favorite book on perfume?” is one of the most frequent. My answer has always been Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins. I’m not going to recap the plot except for one thing, there are lots of beets. I’ve been waiting for a long time for a perfume that gives beets their due. Diptyque Kyoto is it.
Diptyque is pulling out all the stops celebrating this 60th anniversary year. For the fall they are releasing a limited-edition Grand Tour collection. Along with Kyoto, Venise is the other. A lot of times when perfume brands go all out for their anniversaries, they can lose what made them last so long. Creative director Myriam Badault has overseen a set of releases this year which have done a great job of showcasing what makes Diptyque remain relevant as they get their AARP card.
Kyoto is inspired by Japan. As of late inspired by Japan has become equivalent to rolling out cherry blossoms. It has almost become a perfume caricature. Which was why I was pleased to see perfumer Alexandra Carlin go in an entirely different direction.
I’ve never visited Japan. If I use the last thirty years of perfume inspired by it there is an efficiency which sets apart the best. Kyoto is an example. Mme Carlin uses three keynotes in rose, vetiver, and incense. The fourth ingredient is beetroot. It acts as a catalyst pulling together the three ingredients through a unique scent profile.
A spicy Turkish rose opens things. This is a sultry swoosh of piquant petals. Vetiver comes next with its green grassiness out front. It adds a significant amount of freshness keeping the rose from becoming too overbearing. The final keynote, incense skirls through the rose and vetiver in austere silvery spirals. For a few minutes these pieces are present but nothing special. Then the beetroot changes everything.
Beetroot is a fascinating scent profile. It has a soil-like earthiness akin to geosmin, but way less intense. It also has that sweetness that beet sugar comes from. This is also markedly sweet but also much lighter than other choices. Here the sweetness grabs the rose adding texture to the floral. It also coaxes the earthy part of patchouli out from behind the grassiness. The incense just adds a resinous veil throughout.
Kyoto has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.
Diptyque has been one of the brands which has been consistently doing transparent without becoming boring. Now in their 60th year the rest of the perfume world has caught up. I’ve been waiting for a perfume to use beetroot in this way. I wonder if I should let Mr. Robbins know?
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Nordstrom.
As I’ve written about numerous times, the perfume style of chypre is tough to achieve currently. The ingredients which made up the classic chypres which defined it are proscribed. It means a modern chypre must make decisions at what they want to retain over what is difficult to achieve. What seems to be the hardest thing to do is to find the bite lost using the neutered low-atranol oakmoss. There are many good examples but there are many more which fail because they become unbalanced, too much or too little bite, drawing attention to the overall deficiency at the attempt. In more recent times there has been a more pronounced effort to find that velvety texture of the oakmoss, without the bite, in different combinations of materials. I think of these as “polite chypres”; Diptyque Eau Capitale is one of these.
Creative director at Diptyque Myriam Badault has been overseeing the brand since 2008. I can make the case that she has been the best creative director Diptyque has ever had. She has had a sharp eye towards the future since her tenure began. It has allowed the brand to stay relevant as it enters its sixth decade of producing fragrance. Over the most recent few years Mme Badault has been working exclusively with two perfumers. For Eau Capitale it is Olivier Pescheux who is collaborating with her.
Eau Capitale opens on a top accord dominated by the multi-faceted baie rose. It is slightly enhanced by bergamot and pepper, but it is all baie rose in its herbal fruity glory. A full Bulgarian rose meshes with the baie rose to form what is becoming a contemporary classic pairing. It is given a bit of a different spin as ylang-ylang slips through the side door in the heart. Now comes the part where they have to decide what to do to be a chypre. In this case M. Pescheux uses a trio of synthetics in akigalawood, georgywood, and amboxan. This forms a neo-chypre which does retain a bit of the mossy texture without any of the edginess of the vintage type. The spiciness of the akigalawood does its best to provide that but just provides a pleasant spiciness in the end.
Eau Capitale has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
The press materials call Eau Capitale “a lively chypre”. Perhaps so. I prefer thinking of it as polite.
Disclosure: this review is based on a sample provided by Diptyque.