Inspiring Perfumes Series Pt. 3: Diptyque’s Philosykos (1996)

Diptyque Philosykos EDP © Victor
Diptyque Philosykos EDP © Victor

[I want to write about some of the perfumes that have influenced and led me to the creation of my perfume brand, Zoologist Perfumes. They have sparked ideas and given me new understanding about niche fragrances and the marketing of them.]

Pt. III. Unwavered Olfactive and Art Direction – Diptyque’s Philosykos

I remember taking a test strip sprayed with some Philosykos and walked out of a department store, people looking at me sniffing that white strip of paper as I passed them by, as if there was some kind of new fun drug that just got legalized and they were missing out, and 15 minutes later I turned around and bought a full bottle.

Philosykos smells like one part my childhood in Hong Kong, and one part my adulthood in Canada – when I was a kid, my favourite snack drink was semi-sweet coconut milk in a little carton box; when I was living by myself in a condo unit in Toronto 15 years ago, I had a mini potted fig tree and I could smell the green yet milky fig leaves every time I touched it. Philosykos smells fresh, comforting, edible, because it’s a little sweet and coconutty, not-so-edible because it smells botanical and raw. It’s awesome.

Strangely, out of that many Diptyque fragrances, I only love one or two bottles, but it has never crossed my mind that I would hate any of the scents that I don’t love. If one day Diptyque releases an oud fragrance, I will be a little bit disappointed, because to me, Diptyque is all about fresh or woody botanical scents, and it has an abstract and yet consistent olfactive style. They are a little bit like Hayao Miyazaki’s anime, one look and you can tell it’s his movie because of the art direction, yet each one has its own story to tell.

What also drew me to their scents was their label artwork. Imperfect black and white ink pen artwork and chaotic pre-letterset typography that channel you to an unfamiliar yet lovely location or mood, such as the pagoda or the Indian palace depicted on the Do Son and Eau Lente label artwork, or a Mediterranean garden full of lavender from the label of Eau de Lavande.

I remember asking my coworker Caro which perfume brand she likes more and she says, “umm… they don’t smell strong but nice, they have one that smells of tomato stem (L’Ombre Dans L’eau)… which one is it?” “Diptyque?” “Yes.”

Diptyque fragrances don’t get a lot of Scent of the Day mention in Facebook fragrance groups, probably because they are not really exciting scents, but I want to make a wild guess that 3 out of 5 women in the fragrance community has a bottle of Diptyque in their collection. If this is true, Diptyque is a very successful brand, in my eyes.

If I can’t make my perfumes all share the same olfactive style, I want my packaging to at least have a consistent and distinct art direction like Diptyque’s.

Author: Victor Wong

A perfume lover - niche, designer, modern, vintage, I love them all. I am also the owner of Zoologist Perfumes, a small Canadian perfume house. Please visit or for more info!

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