THE BAZAAR, a place of wonders
At 34 Boulevard Saint-Germain in Paris, diptyque shook up a traditional Parisian neighborhood by creating a delightfully new and wonderous experience: a concept-store, or bazaar as it was called in years past.
Christmas 1961. The fabric they created didn’t seem to have any buyers. Our artistic innovators didn’t have a firm grasp of commerce, but they sure knew how to create great displays…
The twin storefront windows were decorated with pigeons, roosters, ducks, traditional paper lanterns brought back from Germany. The items weren’t for sale, but everyone wanted them. From Café Flore and all over Paris shoppers flocked by taxi, by foot or by metro to number 34 to revel in the spirit of the times curated by the merchants of everything and nothing in particular. After the lanterns, the poetic inventory continued with British perfumes, Gaulish covers, Indian incense, wooden toys, all purchased to the tunes of Mozart or the Rolling Stones. Still today, at 34 Blvd St Germain, good vibes meet all that stop by.
OLFACTORY AND MUSICAL NOTES
At 34 Boulevard Saint-Germain, the music sets the tone. One day, Mozart was playing in the shop and a music connoisseur asked, “Who’s the director?” A young sales clerk replied, “Yves Coueslant, one of the diptyque founders, ma’am”. The surprised customers then said, “Coueslant? Don’t know him.” So, the store manager clarified, “The conductor is Daniel Barenboim.” Reassured, the woman went about blissfully collecting her purchases in the store of wonders.
DIPTYQUE, YOU KNOW !
A case of almond scented candles. Although the customer is American, she is perfectly at home in the boutique at 34 Boulevard Saint-Germain. She knows exactly what she wants. Everything was packaged up and ready to go in no time . "Would you like to fill out the duty-free form?" asked the sales person. "No thanks, the limo’s double parked and my private jet is waiting at Le Bourget". "Ah, where are you heading?” "Home, to Texas, where my whole ranch runs on diptyque fragrances, you know!"
THE ART of living through the senses
Theatre, music, painting as well as gardening, fabric, picnics and more! Diptyque’s world is made up of powerful emotions and delicate pleasures, art and the art of living.
In 1964, the Maison’s initial forays into the world of beauty were British imports: eaux de toilette by Penhaligon’s – a British luxury perfume house – the intriguing vinaigre de toilette and Violet Oatmeal face masks by Rimmel. Cosmetics according to diptyque were already starting to infuse.
In 1963, our founders imagined candles in the colours of their fabrics. Their wax maker gave them the idea to add special scents to them – an initial innovation. The scents they chose were hawthorn, cinnamon and… tea, a revolution in the fragrance world. The trio celebrated the boutique’s second anniversary with three candles, embodying their art of living.
MERCHANTS OF NOTHING, merchants of everything
An article in a famous Parisian guide and voilà, our founders were dubbed “merchants of nothing”. And that changed everything.
Everything, that’s exactly what they love and can’t be found anywhere else! Bistro sugar holders, Lorraine glassware, Indian incense burners…they exalt the beauty of everyday life and the work of master craftsman…
…Inadvertent trendsetters, they see their curiosity rewarded with unexpected success. They update the appeal of wooden toys for modern times. They launch exclusive creations by an Irish friends’ niece, Laura Ashley, who was then just starting out… “Bird callers” borrowed from hunters and painted with care by our founders, test tubes filled with colorful seeds… their creations won their customers’ heart over again and again. In the music section, there was only one album, an exclusive, like everything else in their boutique: the hilarious concert at Carnegie Hall by the famous American Castafiore (castawful!) Florence Foster Jenkins.
Our founders’ creativity was fueled by their insatiable curiosity and the secret gardens they always kept in bloom.
Desmond never stopped painting, Yves travelled the world with passion, Christiane had a thing for architecture…
… Desmond continued to exhibit in art galleries and to create frescos. He shared Yves’ passion and travelled from his beloved Ireland to Russia, Greece and Italy. They both marveled at the masters’ paintings and artisans work. Like Christiane, their enthusiasm was equal for all their interests. Her incredible eye for colour was confirmed when she restored the façade of a Parisian building with shades that the neighbours found scandalous and expressed with flair in the sumptuous décors she did called “zelliges” – colourful Moroccan mosaics.
Our founders’ secret gardens were not always metaphorical. Literally and figuratively, plants and flowers, trees and fruit nourished their creativity, reminding them of their childhood gardens…
…Blackcurrant, raspberry and redcurrant bushes… As a child, Christiane sat under a weeping willow in her family’s garden in La Ferté-Alais, her lips stained pink from delicious indulgences, contemplating her shadow in the water: Ombre dans l’eau.
In Ireland, an enclosed garden blanketed in sweet peas and hollyhocks was Desmond’s secret refuge. He didn’t know then that he would one day bottle it: Jardin clos. In Normandy, the garden at the Lilas House is the subtle and eclectic work of Yves and Desmond. Dappled with statues wrapped in clinging vegetation like vine water, it is as much a culmination of beloved gardens as a source of inspiration: Eau de lierre.