Discovering your own scent is a journey into the unknown, but Diptyque will ensure it is a memorable experience. The Resident heads to their Westbourne Grove perfumery to find out more…
There is a reason that scent is one of our main and most sensitive of senses. It is responsible for keeping us alive through our survival instinct, acknowledging us of attractions and repelling us from other elements while also allowing us to taste a different flavour. Quite frankly, it is at the centre of many of our decisions. Diptyque is a brand that understands this and their store on Westbourne Grove educates the public on the role of perfumery too.
‘The team’s key role is to continue the tradition of Diptyque in the spirit of the founders,’ explains Adrian Miller-Yache, the store manager. ‘It is integral to us that we tell the stories and explain the journey of each of our products, but above all share the expert knowledge and passion that our team have with our extended family in Notting Hill.’
We are lucky enough to have some of the best makers and producers in various different industries here in Notting Hill, and this is a perfect example. But the Diptyque story first began in Paris with three friends all driven by the same creative passion. Christiane Gautrot was an interior designer, Desmond Knox-Leet a painter, and Yves Coueslant a theatre director and set designer.
They started designing fabrics and wallpaper for Liberty and Sanderson before opening a shop to display their designs, which became something of a stylish bazaar where one found surprising articles.
In 1968, they composed their first eau de toilette, L’Eau, inspired by a 16th-century potpourri recipe and the scent of pomanders. New creations followed: eaux de parfums, roll-ons and a rare vinaigre de toilette.
For 40 years, Diptyque has been developing a sophisticated collection of personal fragrances giving it a clear signature. ‘Each of our boutiques is different though,’ says Miller-Yache. ‘We use fabrics, wallpaper, colour schemes and artefacts from the original boutique in Paris to embody the true heritage of Diptyque.’
At the store in Westbourne Grove, you can expect to be taken on a personal journey to find your own scent – something that is very popular, especially with soon-to-be brides who are looking to find their scent for life.
‘We often hear the comment from customers that they feel like they are coming into the Diptyque living room and they very much enjoy the tranquillity and the feeling of being part of the Diptyque family,’ he says. ‘This is the key for the team here to take each and every customer on a scented journey.’
As I settled into the Westbourne Grove living room, I was amazed by the personal greeting I received from the team for my fragrance fitting. My fitter, Maia Franceschi Nagaoka, perfectly combined an education with a sensual and enlightening experience.
My fragrance fitter perfectly combined an education with a sensual and enlightening experience
We set off smelling a series of the different Diptyque candles, with Nagaoka taking close note of scents that I did and didn’t take to and, before long, I’d learnt more about perfume than I’ve learnt in over 25 years.
‘Many people that are new to Diptyque often have to be taken back to basics from the designer fragrances,’ says Miller-Yache. ‘The world of niche perfume is about single notes and exploring the compositions of top, heart and base notes.’
What’s interesting is that our sense of smell gets bored very easily, so it’s a good idea to neutralise your scent with something such as coffee beans in between smelling an array of different aromas.
Another element to take into account, they tell me, is that smell changes with the seasons and is more prominent in summer due to there being more moisture in the air. For this reason, it is great to have different perfume for winter and summer, as the summer scent may want to be less powerful or fresher. But away from the instinctive elements of scent, it’s also something that is wildly nostalgic.
In fact, studies have shown that 75% of emotions are triggered by smell because it is linked to wellbeing, emotion and memory. Diptyque took me beyond anywhere that I’d been before and into memories that I didn’t even realise I had. They take you on a journey to the places that evoke the most memories, be it your own or those of the founders of the company.
‘Each of our boutiques are different and we use fabrics, wallpaper designed by the founders, colour schemes and artefacts from the original boutique in Paris,’ says Miller-Yache. ‘This embodies the true heritage of Diptyque throughout each of our boutiques in different ways. We always like to say: sometimes great adventures can hide behind a very simple address.’ A great adventure was certainly had here.
95 Westbourne Grove W11 2SB; 020 7727 8673; Diptyqueparis.co.uk