Diptyque international commercial director Eric Cauvin.

We are sat in a private salon towards the back of Diptyque’s latest store in Singapore. It’s the third standalone Diptyque store on the island, and it is ensconced in Ion Orchard’s revamped beauty-centric B2 level, flanked by multi-label Escentials and Jo Malone London—the former would officially open the next day.

For a small city and market like Singapore, opening a third standalone store seems excessive, especially since they are all concentrated within the central region. Eric Cauvin concedes. “We do have three stores here, which is quite a lot. But if we’ve opened this third store, it’s because the first two been successful. We have had a love story with Singapore for many, many years,” reasons Diptyque’s international commercial director.

That love story is perhaps the most apparent in this latest Ion Orchard outpost. Cauvin politely asks for the door of the room to be opened—the brand was getting ready to host a lavish opening party here a few hours later—and raises his arms towards the fresco that envelops the given space outside. Pastel green walls have been handpainted with a plethora of random blooms that extend to the ceiling—the work of one Jacky Mak. The Singaporean artist has also lent his hand to the walls at the front of the store, creating a monochromatic teaser to the floral burst at the back.

“Did you also see the ropes as you walked through the store? Those are by another Singaporean artist, Natalia Tan,” Cauvin tells us. “This is our way of forming a connection with the local population, through its own artists, and we decided to make it really unique.” Mak’s murals and Tan’s braided rope knots are not the only Singaporean works that are contributing to the new store’s eclectic aesthetic. Furniture pieces—the likes of an orange lacquered table that was crafted in Singapore, as well as a mirror trimmed with wooden components by Singapore-based Studio Kallang—fill the space. The latter’s pieces have also found their way into a number of other Diptyque stores at home and abroad. The studio’s latest contribution is fixed atop a central fireplace akin to what you’d find in a typical Haussmann apartment in Paris.

Murals by Jacky Mak, and braided ropes by Natalia Tan are two of the Singaporean touches to the Diptyque Ion Orchard store.

“Every Diptyque store is unique; you wouldn’t find any two having the same look,” says Cauvin. “If you go to Japan, and then Paris, you’ll see some very nice stores but they’re all completely different from one another. But they’ll all have the same spirit and the same chemistry of local artistic collaboration. Our founders were artists, all three of them, so it’s really important that we keep that spirit.”

While many are familiar with Diptyque’s fragrances and candles that are almost always adorned with a playful arrangement of its typeface, its origin story is often left undiscussed.

Diptyque didn’t start out with what it’s now categorically known for. The brand’s founders—three friends with a passion for the arts and craftsmanship—launched Diptyque in 1961 at 34 boulevard Saint-Germain in Paris’ fifth arrondissement. It was a multi-label concept space with a selection of objects sourced from all over the world, or as Cauvin tells us, “It was the Colette before Colette” (referencing the now-defunct multi-label boutique that was the style and design space of Paris from 1997 to 2017). The candles were conceived in 1963, and fragrances introduced five years later.

Vessels take on artistic forms, perfect for displaying.

It is precisely this heritage of being enthralled by artistry—not just French but also of many different cultures—and collecting and presenting them in a unique way that Diptyque continues to embody throughout its expanding range. Modernism is always at the forefront of the brand, and that extends to the design of all its products.

Les Mondes de Diptyque refillable candles, for example, are a revolution for the brand, both in concept and design. Instead of the maximalist labels, the glass vessel in itself is a work of art, comprising three stacked oval-shaped tiers with “Diptyque” elegantly spelt out at the bottom centre and the brand’s original address in its usual layout at the top. A glass cap features Diptyque’s fragrance burner emblem. Every design element—save for the Diptyque branding on the vessel’s body—is shaped from the glass itself, creating a seamless and minimalist look.

The various ways to scent the home at Diptyque.

“The refillable candle is an evolutive version of the candle, but if you know our range, there are electric diffusers, and some new products that will come that are totally different. We need to keep being innovative in the way we scent the home, so you may be surprised at some of the new things coming but it’s important for us to make sure that we’re still the ones driving and creating,” explains Cauvin. There is a constant need to evolve and innovate, yes. But at the same time, as Cauvin reiterates throughout our conversation, it’s necessary for everything to make sense and tied to the origins of Diptyque.

Stepping back into Diptyque’s Ion store, it feels like entering the home of a collector—not just of art, but also of craft-centric pieces as though from a lifetime of travelling the world. Certainly, the foundations are Parisian and undeniably chic, but every element is a careful curation of experiences and stories. And as you smell each of the candles, you are transported to the exact moment they were designed to encapsulate—a magic that still permeates our spaces more than 60 years later.

We don’t need to tell you that your fragrance does say quite a bit about you. What you like, where your energy level is at, and even your personality might be discerned from the fragrances you gravitate towards. In the same manner, fragrances can be a tool of projection: you can use them quite effectively to communicate an initial visual impression—be it a sense of confidence, mystery or playfulness.

In the spirit of new beginnings for the new year, there’s absolutely no better time than the present to pause and reset your fragrance roster. While that may seem like we’re asking you to consider more mild-weight options, that’s absolutely not the case. This edit of fragrances—some perennial favourites with a few new releases thrown in—are meant to reintroduce a more refreshing scent profile that cuts right through headier bodies.

Think of this edit as the base on which to build on. The overall profile may be generally clean, but that really allows the opportunity to layer and mix to create ever more nuanced scents.

Hundred Silent Ways X extrait de parfum, NISHANE

Istanbul-based perfume brand NISHANE has been around for only a decade, yet its growing presence in more than 120 countries is a mark of its niche extrait fragrances. A consistent top-selling fragrance across its entire repertoire, Hundred Silent Ways is part of a collection inspired by 13th-century poet Rumi. The fragrance starts with a citrus top note, which then settles into a vanilla body. The new Hundred Silent Ways X is a reworked version created as a celebration of the brand’s 10th anniversary and leans even more heavily on the original’s gourmand body, adding on leather to amplify the sensuality of the fragrance. The top notes remain prevalent, making this a thoroughly balanced scent.

Iris de Gris eau de parfum, L’ARTISAN PARFUMEUR

L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Iris de Gris ranks top as the freshest fragrance in this edit. Part of the fragrance house’s Le Potager collection—a series dedicated to the use of vegetable notes in perfumery—Iris de Gris employs the use of a pea accord as the defining element of the fragrance. You smell it almost immediately, a crisp freshness that’s surprisingly reminiscent of a freshly picked and washed bag of peas. But of course, you won’t exactly be smelling like the vegetable. Iris and galbanum add refinement to the fragrance, with the mint (part of the concocted pea accord) lifting the fresh quality of Iris de Gris.

English Pear & Freesia eau de cologne, JO MALONE

As classic as they come, English Pear & Freesia is a quintessential Jo Malone fragrance that is the perfect balance of sweet and sensual. It’s not cloyingly sweet in any way, thanks to the main King William Pear note that gives a juicy expression to the fragrance. As with many of Jo Malone scents, the patchouli base provides for the fragrance’s longevity—this one sticks to your skin for awhile despite being a lightweight cologne formulation. While English Pear & Freesia is categorised as a women’s perfume (but what exactly is the point of gender labels in the world of fragrances?), its floral notes lean on the lighter side and, if anything, add a touch of freshness to the overall scent.

H24 eau de parfum, HERMÈS

Just like the previous fragrance on this list, H24 is created by Christine Nagel, the current in-house perfumer of Hermès. There’s a reason why Nagel is a celebrated perfumer and H24 is one of many examples of her refined take on perfumery. This eau de parfum formulation of H24 is headier than its eau de toilette predecessor but still retains a metallic note—thanks to the inclusion of sclarene—that’s signature to the fragrance. This metallic element cuts through to bring about a fragrance that perhaps isn’t for everyone. But the unique quality of it definitely sets the H24 apart from any other woody and musk-heavy fragrances out there.

Cologne Céleste eau de cologne, CELINE

The latest addition to Celine’s bath and body range—a range that was only introduced this year—is its first cologne. There’s an overall powdery radiance to Cologne Céleste brought about by notes of orris butter that ties it to the house’s refined haute parfumerie collection. Cologne Céleste, however, is designed to be an after-bath ritual meant to reinvigorate and soothe. The intended effect is brought about by the cologne’s more refreshing citrus and floral notes comprising neroli, orange blossom and sweet lemon essence. And as a way of bringing back old-school self-care gestures, Cologne Céleste can either be used as a splash (think Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone) or as a classic perfume with the removable metal pump included. Either way, the cologne is one you can easily incorporate as an everyday go-to.

A Floral Verse eau de parfum, GUCCI

Rather multi-faceted in essence, Gucci’s A Floral Verse is quite a journey, beginning with floral notes that then bring you to a green middle before settling down to a white musk base. A Floral Verse opens with Indian jasmine sambac that’s a splendid combination of floral, with semblances of warmth. The middle Sri Lankan black tea note provides a dry expression that counters the more floral elements of the Indian jasmine sambac, while at the same time infuses a dose of smokiness. The name may allude to a floral-heavy fragrance, but A Floral Verse is actually more green than floral, and layers easily with more robust fragrances.

Photography: Jayden Tan
Photography Assistant: Aisyah Hisham

Coco Noir eau de parfum, CHANEL. Erémia eau de parfum, AESOP. Highgrove Bouquet eau de parfum, PENHALIGON’S. L’Art & La Matière Herbes Troublantes eau de parfum, GUERLAIN. Green Irish Tweed eau de parfum, CREED

Take a second and think about your favourite go-to scents. Chances are, you’re thinking about something that’s woody, musky and perhaps powdery—sensual notes that are typically at the base of some of the best-selling men’s fragrances out there. Dior Sauvage and Bleu de Chanel for example, contain base notes of vanilla and amber, and sandalwood respectively.

These grounded notes belong to the warmer side of the fragrance wheel where olfactive families the likes of amber, woody, and fougère (French for “fern”) reside. The latter of which is probably the most used olfactive family in masculine scents. In fact, both the aforementioned Dior Sauvage and Bleu de Chanel are classified as such.

A fragrance is more often than not, quite a subjective experience. While there tends to be a gendered approach to it—as with most things—there’s hardly any reason why a scent shouldn’t be used because it’s crafted and tagged to be worn by a specific gender. Having said that, there’s a common understanding that masculine fragrances favour a heavier overall feel. That’s totally fine, except in cases where humidity levels already weigh one down.

There’s a reason why warm-profile fragrances are typically worn in the colder months of the year. The rich and sometimes intense notes of warmer fragrances may be great for a lingering sillage, but in humid conditions, they’re often overpowering. Couple that with incessant sweating, and you’ve got yourself quite an uncomfortable combination.

Green fragrances are one of the more underrated scent profiles, especially in the men’s fragrance space. Green sits somewhere in between floral and aqua scent profiles. They’re meant to capture the feeling of being in the outdoors with natural notes of grass as well as the sharp freshness of cucumber-esque notes. An inherent lightness lies in the base notes exuding a typically subtle scent, but green formulations can be mixed with more full-bodied accords to create quite a well-balanced fragrance.

Consider a green fragrance like a much needed spritz of cool mist in the summer heat—inviting and thoroughly refreshing.

Where the wild things are

Because the great outdoors, in essence, comprise of a myriad of scents, it’s not exactly right to say that green fragrances have little aromatic impact. Take Guerlain’s Herbes Troublantes for example. The first whiff is immediately light and refreshing, brought about by essences of thyme, mint and rosemary. It then settles to a powdery body, but only just a tinge.

The same can be said of Jardin à Cythère by Hermès. Inspired by the Greek island of Kythira, the fragrance is a sublime combination of grasses and olive wood that is tied together with fresh pistachio. There’s a slight warmth that comes through but like a breath of fresh air, Jardin à Cythère gives off an overall feeling of brightness.

Fico di Amalfi eau de toilette, ACQUA DI PARMA. Aqua Media Cologne Forte eau de parfum, MAISON FRANCIS KURKDJIAN. Un Jardin à Cythère, HERMÈS

Citrus notes help to elevate both Acqua di Parma’s Fico di Amalfi and Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s Aqua Media. While Italian lemon gives the former a distinct lemony accent, the latter gets its citrus inflections thanks to a verbena accord that heightens the citrusy aspects of verbena leaves. Both fragrances pack quite a punch at the start before smoothing out to a clean and natural finish.

For something slightly on the floral side, opt for Highgrove Bouquet by Penhaligon’s. Its deceptive in the sense that one wouldn’t probably expect a dose of sweet floral to cut through. Yet at the same time, it’s wonderfully light and airy.

Start small

If you’re hesitant about leaving behind the musk, there are a number of green fragrances that have been teamed up with musky accords. Start off with Creed’s Green Irish Tweed—one of the house’s best-selling fragrances—consisting of a familiar sandalwood base. It’s in the inclusion of Egyptian geranium, lavender, violet as well as bergamot that tips the fragrance to the green side of things.

Chanel’s Coco Noir bridge the olfactory space between amber and green quite beautifully. It’s an overall musky scent but is somewhat muted by the presence of bergamot and geranium rose leaf. And yes, it’s categorically a women’s fragrance but who could even tell?

Probably the most musky of the lot in this edit—at least in the initial whiff—Aesop’s Erémia remains vibrant and fresh. The top notes are mostly citrus-heavy with yuzu and grapefruit, and then balanced with bergamot. Its middle goes full green with green tea and mimosa, but it’s in the base that the green profile is further enhanced with galbanum. To tie it all down, patchouli affords Erèmia that distinct musky scent you’d easily be drawn to.

Photography: Jaya Khidir
Styling: Justin Neo