The French fragrance maison recalls nights in the Parisian quarter where it all began in their latest EDP.
Back in the early 60s, the Parisian quarter of Saint-Germain was filled with music and the energizing buzz of a good time being had. Among the many bars in the area was Orphéon, a bar where people flocked to dance, sing, and partake of a lively discussion.
The joint was right next to the original Diptyque boutique, and the maison’s three founders—Christiane Gautrot, Yves Coueslant and Desmond Knox-Leet—would frequent it after a hard day’s work.
Now, after growing into a global brand six decades later, the maison is paying tribute to the bar with its latest fragrance. Orphéon eau de parfum, a scent that is enveloping, woody, spicy, and floral, recalls the décor of wood and velvet, the waft of alcohol and tobacco, which, we imagine, Saint-Germain would emanate in those heady days.
According to the brand, it represents strong bonds and a collaboration of artistic minds. The bar, after all, is where the founders bounced ideas off of each other, and imagined what could be for the brand together.
“We were artists. We were not driven by money or ambition, but, rather, by passion, imagination, creativity and the desire to do something with true integrity,” says Gautrot.
Distilling the night
Diptyque is collaborating once more with perfumer Olivier Pescheux, who is considered a friend of the maison. Among their collaborations are the fragrances Eau des Sens, Vetyverio, Fleur de Peau, Tempo, and Eau Capitale, which was launched two years ago.
“Diptyque and I have been writing a beautiful story for 13 years,” Pescheux shares. “We share an intellectual affinity and an artistic sensibility that has deepened over time, since the creation of the first eaux de toilette, L’Eau des Hespérides and L’Eau de Néroli.”
Describing Orphéon as an all-at-once transcription of a festive atmosphere and a happy era, Pescheux says that the scent contains everything from a woody accord, tobacco, powdery perfumes, and juniper berries, which represents gin and tonics.
“The ingredients I use come from all over the world. The selection perfectly matches the multicultural aspect of the fragrance,” the perfumer adds. “You’ll find green mandarin from Italy, pink peppercorn from Madagascar, violet leaves from France, eucalyptus from China, roses from Turkey and vetiver from Haiti, to name a few.”
Scent of history
As always, the oval of the scent’s bottle is done in tandem with an artist. For Orphéon, it was the illustrator Gianpaolo Pagni. The label describes the artist as Italian by birth, but Parisian by adoption.
On the bottle’s illustration, Pagni was inspired by fabrics, which was the maison’s main business in its first decade. He uses blue to symbolize a column in the original boutique, which is the remaining element from the bar after it was acquired by the maison.
Smells in general, Pagni admits, are a source of inspiration for him. “A few years ago, I started on a personal project that consisted of soaking the blotters of various perfumers in ink, then printing their forms on white paper,” he shares. “I thus created a sort of formal and colourful catalogue of the world of perfumery at that given moment.”
One of the things that drew Pagni most to Orphéon was the goal of creating the olfactory sensations of a place, and of going back to 1960s Saint-Germain-des-Prés.
“Transcribing the mix of smells of wood, cigarette smoke, perfume and alcoholic beverages—the intrinsic components of an intimate, festive and musical place that was also a space where ideas were shared and exchanged. A place that is sorely missed these days,” Pagni says. “All we have to do is smell Orphéon, close our eyes… and there we are.”