Volutes contains an homage to a classic of the classics in the family of room-filled-with-smoke perfumes
Diptyque Volutes is the most recent perfume composition by the French brand, about which we talked earlier on as a precursor in the field of what is commonly called today "niche perfumery" - the artier and more artisan-conscious branch of contemporary perfumery. Before Serge Lutens and even before L'Artisan Parfumeur, there was Diptyque which introduced discreetly head-turning sillages smelling decidedly "different" in the air of Paris from the 1960s...
These are the brands which, when sincere in their aims, spend more time imagining the perfume itself than envisioning their future perfume wearers' daily constraints and predictable dreams. What you find at Sephora on the other hand on their designer fragrance shelves is usually more obsessed by the desire to incarnate the next eternal feminine, or masculine. Theirs is a different approach. Anyone who is interested in perfume can relate to the fact that on some days all you need is a fragrance which underlines your aura or enhances your private space albeit none too ostentatiously.
In these smaller perfume houses however, some are emboldened enough to dream about smells first and people last, convinced that the abstract patrons of their dreams expect rarity and originality and are usually only too eager to wear a distinctive olfactive signature rather than an easy one (some scents offer both qualities). This, of course, is no apology of snobbery as we firmly believe that there is a moment and a time for each type of scent to live under the sun provided that they are good (you do not want to waste your time wearing approximate perfumes.)
Perfumer Fabrice Pellegrin, who already created at least two smoky perfumes, Tabac Sport by Mäurer & Wirtz and Juozas Statkevicius EDP, signs the new fragrance which is offered as a tobacco composition inspired by the scented trails of Egyptian cigarettes, namely the Khedives, blending in this new olfactive story with sophisticated fragrances of "haute parfumerie" - as put by the brand - worn by the affluent set aboard a long-distance steamer headed towards (former) colonial possessions. You're invited by Dyptique, to imagine that you are travelling on a boat from Marseilles to Saigon making ports of call in Port Saïd, the Suez Canal, Djibouti, Colombo and Singapore. Indochina is your destination.
You can also turn for mental-visualization help to the tantalizing vignette offered by a turn of the century journalist looking forward to smoking a Khedive, whose writing is excerpted from the book Eiffel's Tower: And the World's Fair where Buffalo Bill Beguiled Paris, the Artists Quarrelled, and Thomas Edison became a Count by Jill Jones (2009),
'All the enchanting possibilities were overwhelming. One reporter contemplated a day in which he would "breakfast at Siam, dine in Bucharest, have his tea served by real Indians, and wind up with a Khedive cigarette at an Egyptian concert, where the dance girl Aicha does not seem to be distant, to say the least.'
One of the three co-founders of the house, Yves Coueslant, used to travel as a child on those exotic maritime routes. Volutes attempts to recapture the atmosphere of leisure, luxury and sophisticated sensuality that was exuded aboard transcontinental steamers transporting travellers dressed to the nines, Oriental cigarettes affixed to their fingers and lips - as one of the ultimate, forgotten fashion accessories of the times.
Volutes can now admittedly betray a slight whiff of the forbidden as it recreates the guilt-free pleasure of a gesture from an era when cigarette-smoking was full-on, uncritically glamorous. Today, the new absinthe-drinking is cigarette-smoking in many parts of the free world. Fabrice Pellegrin however did not aim to create a transgressive perfume, but rather a harmonious composition which strikes you with its nostalgic, sweet accents of heliotrope, and its bituminous reference to not only the hold of a ship, but a classic of French perfumery. There is a central play on the sensation of warmth which is quite peculiar and makes the perfume stand out for the range of pyrogenic nuances it displays.