Eau Lente by Diptyque (1986)


Photo by Diptyque.

Eau Lente by Diptyque has what I’m confident in calling the Diptyque smell – in the way a Diptyque aroma like this smells secondary, as if it comes at you from a distance. Carried along by a gentle scented cloud, as if it always almost eludes you, or could elude you. Despite you being the wearer, it always smells as if it is worn by someone else, within the space falling between an intimate embrace and at arm’s length. More intimate than a hug but just as warming, less intimate than a kiss, but just as effective. So, between the wearer of Eau Lente and the primary layer of the fragrance – call it the ‘creative’ layer, where a fragrance gains its characteristics; its distinctive shape and form due to its unique notes – there exists this wonderfully present veil that creates a mood of separation; space without a feeling of excessive distance, but a quasi-distance no less, because it’s indeterminate, it’s an everywhereness: a gentle saturation. It has an amoeboid shape, but no characteristics – it exists as a vague but pleasant spicy Oriental at this level. So, Eau Lente exists at the tense boundary line between determinacy and indeterminacy. And that’s why it smells present but hard to locate. It radiates in all directions. This makes it elegant; elusive and diffusive.

Eau Lente’s resinous Chai note actually tingles the sensibilities, which, with a combination of opoponax, clove, and cinnamon forms the beautiful fantasy note of amber. But it is an amber in a mode of presentation that effervescently tingles and gently cackles due to its quite literal toasted spice notes. Of course, this leads one to the elegant smell of both Cola and Sarsaparilla – the organic, small batch stuff – which I am all for, as I  especially have a penchant for the latter. It is somewhat lemony,  almost excessively plush due to a floating holographic vanilla note, a little bit ‘plastic doll’s head’ (vis. Mona di Orio’s Ambre), but not as dessicated as, say, Ambre Russe by Parfums d’Empire. It is not at all like a Lutensian amber either (vis. Ambre Sultan or Arabie), but one certainly gets close. Actually, L’Air du Desert Marocain from Tauer is somewhat similar: both capture a sense of ambiance, where the Tauer becomes transparent – Eau Lente never does.

I digress. Such bold spices could, on paper, easily and foreseeably take center stage and manifest themselves dominantly, but instead, the Chai-Sarsaparilla feature of Eau Lente takes it place behind this veil, as if it were to ask for your permission to enter the region of your perception before it actually does so. I think a general lack of top notes has something to do with this feature. Moreover, I remember that this was one of Diptyque’s first perfumes. Of course it was – it smells like an exquisite candle left unlit in an elegantly furnished room with some dark woods that radiate their natural warmth and light from within, and Arabesque features to qualify this scent’s spiciness. It smells like Diptyque’s Saint-Germain store. It comes together: Eau Lente is a parfum d’ambiance, an ambient fragrance. A linear Diptyque scent like this has a soft, atmospheric presence, and if that’s what one wants, then this is perfect. I for one appreciate this fragrance for the way it plays with the idea of space and presence when one wears a perfume.


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