'Do Son' Spring 2022 Ad Campaign

Review of Diptyque Do Son Spring 2022 Ad Campaign by Creative Director & Photographer Tim Walker with Exhibition Collective

by Billie Rose Owen

A Voyage into Do Son with Tim Walker as Your Guide

For Diptyque’s limited-edition Do Son Eau De Parfrum campaign, Tim Walker and Exhibition Collective partner to build photograph reinterpretations of Do Son. The campaign is packaged as a limited-edition Coffee table book that features Walker’s photographs for the campaign along with his storyboard illustrations. The storybook is also featured on Diptyque’s webpage: One can virtually flip through each page or select from different chapters, while a Do Son-themed lullaby audio streams from the site.

Walker’s photographs conceptually translate Yves Coueslant’s childhood impressions of Do Son, producing vivid creations that explore ideas of nostalgia, narrative, and memory. Framed as “An invitation to an imaginary world…”, the campaign taps into playful creations. Themes of the ocean, exotic birds, architecture, landscapes, and of course, scent, are captured, each creation adorned with distinctive, mixed-media elements that characterize the brand’s fragrance.

The abstract and fantasy nature of the photographs allows for a personal interpretation. They evoke a sense of our own childhood sentimentality and what we may have once fantasized our environments to look like as imaginative children. Walker opens a fleeting window where one can gaze into the personal memories of Coueslant, in turn inspiring us to reflect on our own: For those who choose to look, a nostalgic sentiment for a place once visited may be unlocked, whether that memory is of a place once visited, or one merely imagined.

For the French-born brand proudly rooted in tradition, it is not unfamiliar for Diptyque to lean into its heritage to spotlight its timeless, luxury-status artifacts. Yet, unlike before, this campaign offers a more intimate dive into the perfume’s past. In both its digital and traditional format, the multimodal campaign tells a story as palpable as the fragrance itself, deepening a more personal connection to the brand’s iconic scent by way of memory.

Laurence Semichon

Senior VP of Fragrance and Beauty at Diptyque

Can you tell us about the inspiration, how it came to life, and how you and your team built it out?

Do Son is a Diptyque’s iconic fragrance. This fragrance unveils the childhood memory of one of our founders Yves Coueslant. It evokes a faraway place, Viet Nam, a place rich in legends, lush nature and unique and memorable scents. 

To celebrate this mythical fragrance, we wanted to create a unique, sensitive and poetic narrative around this perfume with the creation of a timeless cultural object. The choice fell on the creation of an artistic book. It seemed obvious to us to associate ourselves with an artist whose sensibility we share, in particular a strong interest in mythology, a taste for poetry and dreamlike themes that are very present in the brand’s territory. We naturally chose Tim Walker, one of the best storyteller of our times, whose singular and whimsical universe we admired. Another similarity with Tim Walker is the importance of drawing in the preparatory stages. Tim Walker’s work was very meticulous, from the sketches to the set design, each element was carefully thought out and chosen until the final photograhy. A real work of composition. Each of the photos are like paintings that invite you to travel and awaken your imagination.  

What was it like to bring Yves Coueslant’s childhood memories to life through the campaign? 

The objective being to express the memory of one of our founders, Yves Coueslant. Tim Walker, with his sense of image, composition and narration, manages to bring memories and feelings to life through his photographs. Tim Walker was given carte blanche. This freedom of creation specific to the house has allowed to reveal new facets of Do Son as the exploration of the underwater world for instance. Tim Walker brought a lot of thickness and depth to this memory. 

Why was it important to create and include the Do Son book?

Diptyque is a trademark of the story. The book was an obvious choice to tell the story of Do Son and to invite our audiences to a faraway imaginary through portrays surreal landscapes of beaches, voyages, nautical elements and Vietnamese influences.

Isabelle Constant & Edwin Sberro

Co-founders of the collective Exhibition

How did the project get its start?
Our creative studio regularly collaborates with the brand diptyque. And we like to develop original communication projects together. More than communication, I would call it a “cultural object”. Because we are convinced that today’s brands, especially luxury brands, must share their affinities with their audiences. 

In this respect, the art book format is completely consistent with the DNA of the diptyque brand. Diptyque is a storytelling brand. It tells stories through the oval of its bottles, its dancing letters or the names of its fragrances and candles. This time we wanted to tell the story of Do Son perfume: that of a distant place, rich in legends and a luxuriant and fragrant nature. 

The book is a cultural object with a long history. It proposes a journey and awakens the imagination, which is the very purpose of diptyque. 

Can you tell us about the inspiration, how it came to life, and how you and your team built it out?
It all happened quite quickly, once we decided to make a book illustrating the world of Do Son perfume, we chose the talent to co-create it: Tim Walker was an obvious choice. We admire his singular and whimsical universe. He accepted this project of a book composed of only still lifes with enthusiasm.  

We gave him carte blanche. The starting point for his narrative was the oval drawing that can be seen on both sides of the bottle. He gave his interpretation of the pagoda, the junk ships and the tuberoses that make up the story of Do Son. He made them into “real paintings” that we fed with imaginary elements, inspired by legends and travel stories. 

From this point of view, Tim’s work process is very rich. Before shooting, we shared drawings, some of which are in the book, in order to visualise the future compositions. This stage was then enriched by the wonderful craft work of his set designer Chris Melgram.   

What was it like to bring Yves Coueslan’s childhood memories to life through the campaign?
We didn’t want to lock Do Son into memories. Yves’ story was a source of inspiration, but what we remembered most about Yves was his great capacity for imagination and his love of drawing, image and storytelling. 

Like him, Tim Walker takes you into a story with a single image. His sense of composition and color make his pictures very sensory. In this book you are in Do Son, you smell the flowers, you hear the birds, you see the lanterns light up. From this point of view it was a wonderful immersion, a very exciting journey and I hope it will be communicated !

Why was it important to create and include the Do Son book?
The idea of the book was for us a global concept. Beyond the print, we have developed it into a website. In this process, we were guided by the relationship to the “book” object. How to transcribe the experience of leafing through a book into digital? To do this, we took back what for us constitutes the essential of this object: the chaptering, the fact of turning pages, the feeling of paper which was replaced by a sound-design work.

The Book

Creative Director & Photographer | Tim Walker
with EXHIBITION Collective Creative Team

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