A fragrance guru on scents and sensibility

As creative director of Diptyque, the esteemed French fragrance house, Myriam Badault has a dream job. Since 2006, this scent savant has hatched perfumes as captivating as your favourite novel, launched sensory innovations such as the Hourglass Diffuser, and, most recently, unveiled two new fragrances, Tempo and Fleur de Peau, to mark the brand’s 50-year anniversary. The Memo connected with Badault to unbottle her credo. You may never rub your wrists together again.

TM: Why does perfume activate such powerful memories?
MB: “Because it is strongly linked to your emotions and places. The way I learned to memorise raw ingredients is by associating them to my memories. Jasmine reminds me of the swimming pool where I learned to swim, hazelnut of my grandmother’s country house at the end of the summer, and the hazelnut harvest I used to do with my brother.”

Any other scents that evoke your childhood?
"A blend of musk, angelica seeds, fresh spices and incense. That combination reminds me of my childhood in Africa, the sensation and smell of sunbathed skin, the fishing hut on the beach that was open to wind."

How often should we be changing our fragrance?
"There are no rules. Whenever you want. Some people will change with the seasons, others during the day. I wear the same perfume all-year long, and change for special days, different moods and occasions. At the moment I love wearing Tempo and Vetyverio, and I am addicted to Fleur de Peau, which I almost designed for myself."

Is it true that French women never reveal their signature scent?
"I am not sure! But it is true that we like to have the feeling that our signature scent is unique."

When applying fragrance, is rubbing your wrists together a no-no?
"It’s a complete no-no. There are two ways to apply. Either you create a perfumed cloud and walk through it, which is very sophisticated, or apply fragrance to the pulse points of the body—the wrists, neck, behind the knees."

Is there an art to layering fragrances? For instance, is it better to mix different single notes or stick with similar scent families?
"Mixing fragrances is an experiment. You have to test them on your wrist first. My advice is to use single note perfumes to enhance a facet of a more complex fragrance. For example, if you want to reinforce the floral facet of L’Ombre dans l’Eau you can use Eau Rose, or if you’d like to highlight its green and vegetal facet you can blend it with something more herbaceous."

Do you recommend layering body washes, body lotions, oils and hair mists?
"I think it is the best way to do it, and one reason we created the perfume gesture (collections of matching scents). It’s more subtle."

We’re heading into winter in Australia. Do you have any advice for creating a cosy home?
"Pomander, a spicy orange, is a very warm and sophisticated scent and ideal for winter. It reminds me of Yves Coueslant (one of Diptyque’s three founders). I’m also drawn to Opopanax. It’s an oriental scent, more complex than amber, and one of my first Diptyque candles."

What has been the reaction to the 50th anniversary collection?
"Very positive. It’s been a nice way to share the story and creative universe of the brand."

George Epaminondas
May 2018


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Bonus sample vial with purchase