Mecca Cosmetica is an Australian and New Zealand cosmetic retailer, amusingly swanky. There is one near me, and every now and then I scuttle in, stare doubtfully at the Serge Lutens, sniff a few, and leave. Eventually I realised that I have been walking right past a very good selection of Diptyques, and that they are affordable.
One of the reasons my eyes used to glaze over the Diptyques is that they all seemed at a distance to be a bit the same. They use similar bottles, and many of their names seem to include the word Eau or start with the letter O. But thanks to my recent interest in fig fragrances, I’ve bought a little sample of Philosykos, and so, feeling emboldened, I have decided to work through the all the Diptyque testers at my Mecca Cosmetica. So far I have tested L’Eau, Oyedo, and the perfume that marries O and Eau, L’Ombre dans l’Eau.
Oyedo is described as ‘A luxuriant basket of citrus fruit: bright lemon, slightly piquant green mandarine, tangy orange and tamarind offer an invigorating blend.’ Fascinating and original, but very abstract, and too weird and citrusy for me. The other two are easier to read.
L’Eau ‘reinvents an English pot-pourri and pomander recipe from the 16th century.’ It certainly does, beautifully. But dry pot pourri is about all I get, and no eau at all. Is the lighter version, L’Eau de lEau, actually watery, I wonder?
Finally, L’Ombre dans L’Eau. This one is said to have been inspired by a ‘mixture of crumpled blackcurrant leaves and rose petals’ in an English garden. I found it astringent and green all the way through. What I smelled of the rose was lovely, and not artificial (a common complaint about this perfume), but very faint. L’OdE on me was VERY strong: I spritzed it at about 1 pm and could still smell it loud and clear at midnight.
L’Eau and L’OdE match exactly with their descriptions. So does Philosykos, a marvellous evocation of a grove of figs that includes the leaves, the fruit, the sap, the wood, and the earth which supports them all. And yet – these perfumes are very literal, very photo-realistic. Intellectually and technically they are fine achievements, but genuine artistry is about knowing what to leave out, as much as what to put in.
Anyway, and as usual with perfume, it comes down to what you like. For myself, I have become very, very fond of Philosykos. I tell you, it could take only one more tough, boring day at work and I will be swinging by Mecca Cosmetica on the way home to hand over my credit card. Tell me to stop, will you, at least until I’ve tried the whole range.
And ponder this: there is not one Diptyque personal fragrance name that does not contain either O (somewhere) or Eau. Check it out on the website. Someone at Diptyque is enjoying themselves immensely. I look forward to the day they come up with a perfume called … oh, I don’t know … ‘Peanut Butter Sandwich’. To be sure, it will be the best peanut butter sandwich ever smelled.