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The beautiful story behind Diptyque’s Do Son fragrance

Discover how Diptyque’s perfume pays tribute to one of the most important women in co-founder Yves Coueslant’s life

28 March 2023

Whether it’s the smell of cut grass that evokes summer evenings in the garden or the scent of ginger that’s reminiscent of a loved one’s cooking, a hint of a certain fragrance is enough to transport us back to a particular time or place. And few have understood just how deeply scent, memory and emotion are intertwined than the three founders of the Parisian fragrance house DiptyqueDesmond Knox-Leet, Christiane Montadre-Gautrot and Yves Coueslant.

Of all Diptyque’s perfumes – which you can discover at 161 Sloane Street – there is one that has the most beautiful story of all. Enter: Do Son, a fragrance conceived by the late co-founder Yves Coueslant in collaboration with perfumer Fabrice Pellegrin and introduced in 2005.

For Coueslant, the most evocative scents were the ones that defined his childhood summers spent holidaying in Vietnam at Do Son, in Hạ Long Bay – it’s where his parents emigrated from not long before he was born in Paris. The picturesque place, which is sprinkled with verdant islands rising from green-blue waters, is home to an abundance of tropical flowers such as cây hoa huê, or tuberose, which forms the basis of this fragrance. 

When the co-founder returned to the region in the mid-’90s, memories came flooding back of his mother basking in the scent of tuberose’s tiny white flowers, carried inland on the coastal breeze. She’d sit on the pagoda that her husband – Coueslant’s father – built overlooking the sea, and it’s this scene that Coueslant sketched, with her surrounded by flora, to crystallise the memory. Do Son was born. Then, together with Pellegrin, he elaborated on the base of tuberose with orange blossom, jasmine and marine accords to create the fragrance we know and love today. The beautiful line drawing continues to appear inside the brand’s iconic oval on bottles of Do Son. 

Pellegrin describes the process: “The fragrance was my attempt to recreate, via the distinctive scent of tuberoses, the atmosphere and the memory of a childhood spent in Vietnam. Tuberose is an exceptional flower – majestic in every respect and for Yves, enveloping and material. It became our point of reference. I worked on it with great care, developing its green, aquatic, floral, creamy and sunny facets. And that’s how the accord came into being.”

Diptyque dreams up special projects to commemorate the creativity behind Do Son. Last year, there was a book by legendary photographer Tim Walker with fantastical still-life images in tribute to Vietnam’s landscape. For 2023 – Do Son’s 18th anniversary – the brand has collaborated with Werlen Meyer, a Parisian studio known for its work with Wes Anderson, on an animated short film that combines line drawings with vibrant colour illustrations. Meanwhile, songwriter James Blake has provided a soft soundtrack. At 25 frames per second, the film captures the joy of being a child in Vietnam, connecting with nature and the distinctive smells and sounds of the area. There are giant water lilies, shoals of fish that give way to clouds and boats, and a whole world of flowers, insects and birds to discover, before the original Do Son sketch is revealed.

To accompany the film, there is a limited-edition range of Do Son bottles and a candle, all coloured in the same blue as the waters at Hạ Long Bay. 

You can shop the limited-edition Do Son range at Diptyque Sloane Street now.

Diptyque; 161 Sloane Street, SW1X 9BT

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