In Paris, I’m always charmed by the history, which is just everywhere.
And you feel it even more intensely in little pockets, like at Diptyque on a small corner in Saint Germain. Aside from creating some of the most coveted fragrances and candles in the world (which all of us are in love with at the studio)(I think there’s pretty much a Diptyque candle on every desk?!)(I just did a headcount and there are four, so…), Diptyque is also one of the most storied companies in
the fragrance industry Paris. And it all started here, at the original location that Erik and I visited while we were there, which today looks almost exactly the same as it did in 60s… And smells just as good.
Ok, so there’s a lot that’s happened in over 50 years, and it’s a pretty incredible story (they even wrote a book about it). But, in between Erik and I smelling every candle in sight, we got the break down on the amazing history of Diptyque*…
1961: Diptyque established as a small fabric store by Yves Coueslant, Desmond Knox-Leet and Christiane Gautrot**. The store from its beginnings looked very similar to what you see today (and in the photos!), as they’ve been really careful to keep it true to the founders’ designs! Beautiful, no? And completely unique…
Late 1961: Diptyque expanded to become a home goods boutique, selling a curated selection of pieces from all over the world, everything from candlesticks and toys to blankets and some of the first tablecloths by a little known designer (at the time) Laura Ashley.
Ok, so, to be candid, this was a complete stroke of luck / complete accident. The founders had set up a wind display for Christmas, and people started coming in asking if they could buy the lamps and ornaments in the window, rather than the fabrics… But it became the model for a multi-brand boutique, which has since been emulated by Colette, The Line, and many of our other favorite stores! A story for the ages.
1963: Diptyque’s scented products, such as fragrances and potpourri sourced from countries such as England and Spain, soared in popularity. Also a complete stroke of luck, the wax man they worked with suggested that wax could make a great base for scents… And voila! An idea was born, followed by the three original candles scents that Diptyque still sells today: cinnamon, black tea and hawthorn berry (my favorite!).
1968: Diptyque launched their first eau de toilette, L’Eau.
1973: Vinaigre de Toilette is introduced as a second scent.
1975: L’Eau Trois is launched. Hat trick!
1993: Desmond passed away suddenly, and this became a year of change for Diptyque. Yves took over the design of the labels and their friend Mohamed Lataoui came on as the company’s managing director.
It was also the year that Henri Fournier, who runs the operations of the original store to this day, first joined as a general sales clerk. (He’s the lovely guy in the photo, if you happen to pop by, say hi from us!)
2003: Boutiques open in new cities; London, San Francisco and Boston. (#GlobalDomination)
2007: Fabienne Mauny joins Diptyque as Global Managing Director.
2011: Diptyque celebrates its 50 year anniversary!
2012: The bottle for the eau de toilette is redesigned in oval form, a big change for a traditional and very classic, simplistic brand.
2015: Erik and Neada make the pilgrimage to the original Diptyque and now completely understand what the big deal is (even more so, after years of being candle fans)… Their individual, distinctive scents… the store, all of the really beautiful details, the whole thing is a BIG DEAL.
*Fun fact: The name Diptyque actually references the two large windows on either side of the entry to this store!
**Desmond and Christiane played a more creative/artistic role in the creation of fabrics, Yves took on more of the practical responsibilities of the business.
Text: Neada Jane | Photos: Erik Melvin