Chances are, if you’re someone who loves filling their home with beautiful scents, you already own a Diptyque candle (or two or three). Long exalted by scent and design aficionados, the Parisian fragrance house has just recently reopened its Hong Kong flagship at IFC Mall, unveiling a tremendous new makeover, as well as a limited edition Hong Kong candle — one of only a handful of scents dedicated to one city. It represents the brand’s unrelenting search for timeless elegance when it comes to fragrances.
“The idea is to create by being free from trends, by being innovative and reinventing tradition,” says Olivia Grimaux, Global Communication Director. “A tribute to the city’s soul, the new Hong Kong Candle (HK$650) is a mixture of rice steam, bauhinia and other characteristic smells of Hong Kong. Nature regains its rightful place within urban density.”
Located by the atrium, the Hong Kong flagship has been transformed with sophisticated earthy and bronze tones, with artful and thoughtful touches such as a wall motif of gleaming brass pipes, alluding to the musicality found in Diptyque’s scents. At the heart of the store is a specially commissioned art screen by artist Nicolas Lefeuvre.
Fanning out like a treasure box to showcase its wares, the piece is an ink work created with indigo cobalt pigment, a landscape influenced by Diptyque and Hong Kong. “If you think about Hong Kong, you think about this verticality: I didn’t want to go into stereotypes. I think it’s a bit cliche,” says Lefeuvre. “I wanted to break it down to something a bit more horizontal, that’s why I have these lines, and the horizon is very important to me as well. Whether you’re in Kowloon or the Island, you can see the sea. It used to be, and still is now, a harbour: the sea is everything.”
“Another thing is the light: If I wake up at 5:30am or 6am, I love the light at this time,” he says.
Despite being an art director at Chanel for 14 years — a job that has taken him from Singapore to Tokyo, Nicolas Lefeuvre has been painting and holding regular exhibitions for his work throughout his whole professional career. He dedicated himself to his own art when he moved to Hong Kong five years ago, and he currently works out of a workshop in his home on the Peak. “I had too many things in my head and not enough time,” says Lefeuvre.
Lefeuvre was first approached by Diptyque after they saw his exhibition, “Land(e)scapes” in Shanghai in 2017. He says, “What I really liked about this collaboration was that we really met on this word: ‘landscape,’ because for me, when I’m painting, it’s mostly mental images and landscapes that I see when I travel. Diptyque told me, ‘how we create fragrances is we create olfactive landscapes. That’s why images and memories are really important for us.’ It gives a little bit of 3D to the sense [of smell].”
Aside from being a longtime fan of Diptyque (he lights his Lavender Leaf candle every morning to get into a peaceful frame of mind to work), the idea of olfactive memory and landscape struck a chord with Lefeuvre, who instantly thought of his daughter. “I bring her to school from time to time, which is between a temple and an open market. When I bring her to school, you can smell the incense from the temple, and the fruits as well from the market,” he says. “The other day I was thinking to myself, I would be very happy if she would have this olfactive memory one day, when she smells incense and fruits again when she is older, she’ll think back to her life in Hong Kong.”
Lefeuvre’s work is deeply rooted into his locale. “What I try to express in my work is the relation I have with the place I live in. I had a series called “The State I’m In,” which [compares] the psychological and geographical states. I don’t use brushes, I use objects all around me,” he says.
“For example, I found ink rollers from an abandoned print factory, and used them to paint. When I was living in Japan, I was painting and inking with geisha shoes. I was buying kimonos from flea markets, putting them in ink and pressing them on paper. And in the next city I live in, I will find another technique. This is a good way to explore,” he says.
Lefeuvre is planning to relocate to Lisbon, Portugal this summer with his wife and three children. “By the sea,” he laughs. “But there is something with Asia. It’s almost half of my life that I’ve lived here, so I will come back every three months, just to get my dose of Asia.”
Diptyque, Shop 1080, Podium Level 1, IFC Mall, 8 Finance Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2521 6799