The first time I smelled Diptyque was in Paris. I was early into my perfume addiction, and of course Diptyque was on my to-sniff list. I can still conjure up the sense of beautiful unfamiliarity the line held for me; it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Tam Dao, Do Son, Philosykos…. those names have a magical power over me, even now, although I haven’t smelled any of them in years.
The wonderful thing about getting into perfume when I did was: there weren’t that many niche lines, so we were all working off the same list on the scavenger hunt, so to speak. If I hunted down Tam Dao I could go see what Luca Turin had to say about it, and I could talk about it with other perfumistas and everyone had smelled it. While I’m happy with the explosion of niche lines and all the choices they represent, it means that my earlier shared sense of experience with other perfumistas isn’t really a given any more. You may have recently tried fifteen things from five niche lines I’ve never heard of, and vice versa.
I never see Diptyque around any more – I think they pulled themselves out of most department stores, at least in this area, although occasionally you run across the candles. Same with L’Artisan. Anyway, Diptyque and L’Artisan will always hold this special place in my heart from those heady, early days of my perfume journey. But I don’t really keep close track of what they’re up to, because I don’t have anywhere to sniff them.
So I was pleased to run across two new Diptyque scents at Barneys in Chicago – Tempo and Fleur de Peau. Tempo is a heavy patchouli; it’s immediately all up in your grill and I didn’t move beyond spraying it on a paper strip.
Fleur de Peau, however, is another story. “Peau” is French for skin, and the implication for me is that this is going to be a musky skin scent rather than, say, a floral. (Their website has a lot of heavy-breathing talk of Cupid and Eros and a sexier interpretation, which …. is not how I’d describe it, not at all.) In terms of notes it is pretty much ambrette, iris and musk, with a little pepper at the open.
It seemed pretty light on paper so I gave my wrist a generous couple of sprays, and then I felt it – that shiver I used to feel when I sniffed L’Artisan or Diptyque and my brain went piiiiing! I don’t think it’s gotten rave reviews (Robin at Now Smell This is not a fan) so ymmv. But it made me feel the way I felt the first time I smelled L’Artisan Mure et Musc — it seems both uncanny and familiar; it goes on as one of those radiant, ambient fragrances you sense around you, like Prada Infusion d’Iris. The odd part for me was that each time I wore it I became somewhat anosmic to it after a few minutes; each time I had people in the Barneys beauty department stop me and demand to know what that gorgeous thing was I had on.