On the occasion of Diptyque’s shop opening in Berlin, Scentury’s Helder Suffenplan had a friendly chat with Fabienne Mauny, the brand’s general manager. An elegant Parisienne, Mauny radiates love and passion for the products she helps to develop and distribute. The shop, located on Berlin’s famous Kurfürstendamm avenue, is a treasure trove for lovers of fragrance, scented candles, and outstanding interior design items.
Then we take Berlin!
SCENTURY: What are the first things that come to mind when you think of Berlin?
Fabienne Mauny: Brandenburg Gate and Checkpoint Charlie — two places that for me symbolize the city’s history. I remember very well the images from the fall of the Wall in 1989. I’ve been coming here many times since then and I always think of that moment.
SC: Why did you choose Berlin for the first German Diptyque shop?
FM: What is special about your country is that there are so many important and exciting cities within, and we would like to be present in many of them at some point. Mathias Bauch — our German country manager — convinced us it has to start with Berlin. The city is very important for image building in Germany and on top of this has a global awareness.
Fabienne Maury, general manager Diptyque. Image: Diptyque.
SC: Diptyque created a candle especially for this shop. How does it smell?
FM: It is part of a new collection of candles inspired by select capitals in the world. We are very proud to have created the first one for Berlin. Its main ingredient is lime tree, inspired by the scent of the linden trees in early summer in Berlin.
SC: Something that strikes me about Diptyque is the love for details. No matter if you look at a flacon or a diffuser — everything is just really well done.
FM: We inherited this level of care from the founders, Christiane Gautrot, Desmond Knox-Leet and Yves Coueslant. Each time we went to them to present new creations they would question us on every detail: how exactly was it done and why?
SC: How will you preserve this spirit into the future, especially while the brand is expanding?
FM: Basically by approaching challenges exactly as we have learned from the founders. They were free, curious, very refined, and had a great sense for hospitality. They spent a lot of time in the shop listening to customers, and trained us to give the customer a very sincere welcome and make them feel comfortable. They put into the brand this mix of elegance and warmth — their life, their emotions, their inspiration. We strive to continue in the same way.
SC: This autumn, Diptyque launched a small range of cushions and bags made from printed Diptyque fabrics from 1960s. Will there be more products of that sort?
FM: The idea behind the original shop at Boulevard Saint-Germain that opened in 1961 was to create a Bazar Chic, an eclectic and colorful collection of objects from all around the world. We have decided to reconnect to those roots with our Collection de 34. We are going to continue to explore this territory because it expresses the idea of art de vivre, something we find very specific to the brand.
SC: For such a wide product range you need many different suppliers. How do you find them and how do you ensure they meet Diptyque’s high standard of quality?
FM: The beauty of this is that these are real partnerships. We grow together while we develop projects together. And this is true about everyone we work with: wax producers, ceramic workshops, illustrators … We try to give them the freedom to express themselves and give us the best of what they are able to do. For example, we never put the perfumers in competition: no pitches, no tests, no focus groups — or, rather, a focus group that consists of only two or three people [laughs]. But we are very demanding. I recently met the gentleman who produces caps for our flacons and he said to me: “You are a nightmare to work with but we love you!”
SC: You have a history in the luxury industry, working for Yves Saint Laurent and other big brands. What is the main difference between working with a big company and a niche brand?
FM: For me there are no big names and small names, but just people who are true to what they do and people who are not. I consider it an honor to work with people at such a high level of talent, vision, and passion like Pierre Bergé and Yves Saint Laurent. When you work with them you are elevated in a way. At Diptyque I found the same spirit in a totally different context. You can find exceptional talent in many different places, and it’s my privilege to help them to be even more successful.
SC: What Diptyque fragrances are you using these days?
Prepare yourself for a long list because I love many of them. From the personal fragrances I especially like the spicy ones. I love to wear L’Eau, Diptyque’s first scent created in 1968. Another favorite is Eau Lente, a very ambery scent from the exclusive Store Collection. When it comes to candles I enjoy the entire range from florals to woods to spices — depending on the occasion. For a grey and rainy day like today I would definitely choose to burn Feu de Bois.