Diptyque Essence of John Galliano Candle and Room Spray : Review


The dry resinous fragrance of incense has a very calming, soothing effect, which has been known since antiquity. In fact, both Eastern and Western religions share the use of frankincense in their ceremonies as it is believed to aid prayer and meditation. When fashion designer John Galliano approached perfumer Olivia Giacobetti (author of Hermès Hiris, L’Artisan Premier Figuier, Diptyque Philosykos) to create a home fragrance reminiscent of the Russian Orthodox church, it was the note of frankincense that Giacobetti chose to explore. The result is Essence of John Galliano, available as both a candle and room spray–a beguiling melange of smoky leather and dark woods, wrapped in a dusky glow of incense.

The first impression of Essence of John Galliano is the leather-incense accord. It alternates between smoky and woody, with the bright, peppery note of frankincense lending it an effervescent, uplifting character. The earthy twist of iris gives the fragrance a polished quality reminiscent of Chanel Cuir de Russie. The delicate sweetness of vanilla further refines the dark richness of Essence of John Galliano, rounding out the rough edges of the dry leather notes. Like most of Olivia Giacobetti’s fragrances, Essence of John Galliano has a transparent, lucid quality. As the fragrance diffuses in the air, it appears vivid, yet not at all heavy or overwhelming.

Essence of John Galliano is among my favorite candles for just about any occasion, from a romantic dinner tête-à-tête or relaxing alone with a cup of tea and a good book. Its smoky, woody fragrance is the perfect antidote to a long and stressful day. As I light the candle and watch its beige wax melt to release the rich incense notes, I feel my own tiredness melt away. The sepia tinted packaging embellished with Gothic characters is quite elegant and eye-catching which is why this candle is among my favorite choices for gifts. It has an excellent throw and a long life. The candle burns cleanly, but I recommend being vigilant about trimming the wick to avoid smoldering. The room spray is likewise excellent, and at times I even spray some on my clothes to enjoy the smoky incense notes.

Essence of John Galliano Candle and Room Spray are available at Aedes, Barney’s, Beautyhabit, Bluemercury, and Bigelow’s. $68 for a 190g candle and $60 for a 150ml bottle of room spray.



  • Violaine: Wow, thanks so much for this lovely Sunday proposition! Inspiring so that i lit an incense cone (strawberry, from Darshan incense, Bangalore) very nice scent ^_^ !
    p.s. my “to try/presents list” is getting longer & longer…thanks to you February 20, 2011 at 11:44am Reply

  • *jen: Oh, yum! Another amazing temptation. Thank you!
    *jen February 20, 2011 at 7:49am Reply

  • Victoria: It is one of my favorites! Such a beautiful, elegant incense fragrance. February 20, 2011 at 10:06am Reply

  • Marina: Mmmm, want to light it right away! February 20, 2011 at 10:09am Reply

  • Victoria: The thing is that does not smell so much like pure Orthodox church incense, but rather the way the church smells after the service–the scent of incense, beeswax, a whiff of someone's Chanel… So evocative! February 20, 2011 at 10:12am Reply

  • Marsi: You can never go wrong with Diptyque. I usually pick up a little something from the store in Union Square when I visit San Francisco every year, and mayhaps Galliano will be this year’s treat. I love all of the notes in it.

    Your description of it in your reply to Marina is most evocative. I think that’s what will sell me on this candle. February 20, 2011 at 10:41am Reply

  • Victoria: I can never resist either! I have many fragrance obsessed friends, and while it is hard to buy perfume as a gift for them, they love candles.
    It takes a certain skill to create a good fragrance for a candle, and this one is among my favorites. I probably repurchased it two or three times already. February 20, 2011 at 11:13am Reply

  • Olfactoria: That sounds fantastic! Must try soon! I love everything Giacobetti does. February 20, 2011 at 12:08pm Reply

  • sweetlife: Victoria, you are killing me. I don’t think I even like scented candles and yet now I must have them. I am weak… 😉

    And to think I passed up a chance to buy one of these at the Diptyque sample sale last year! I kept sniffing at the unlit candle, putting it down, coming back…but it was SO smoky when unlit I was a little afraid of how it would smell once it was burning. Better, it seems. February 20, 2011 at 6:36pm Reply

  • Victoria: I love good quality Indian incense. The one I buy is a mix of frankincense, sandalwood and rose. It is resinous and rosey. Very soothing.
    Yours sounds so lovely!! February 20, 2011 at 4:12pm Reply

  • Victoria: If you like Annick Goutal Noel, you will enjoy this one too. Beautiful incense notes! February 20, 2011 at 4:13pm Reply

  • Victoria: Hey, weren’t you the one asking for more candle reviews? 🙂 I also have Guerlain Hiver En Russie coming up….

    Essence smells more like dry woods than smoke to me, and yes, it is not as smoky when it is burning. The room spray is wonderful too, although I admit that I prefer the candle. It is probably because there is something of a ritual in lighting the candle and enjoying both the glow and the scent. February 20, 2011 at 6:53pm Reply

  • sweetlife: Um, was that me? *looks at the sky and hums*

    So I can’t blame you if I tumble down yet another rabbit hole? Oh well… 🙂 February 21, 2011 at 11:09am Reply

  • Victoria: Trust me, it is tumbling down this rabbit hole together, because now whenever I enter a perfume store, I first rush to the candle section! 🙂 February 21, 2011 at 11:21am Reply

  • March: Gosh, I’m late over here on this one, I kept forgetting to comment, but I am SO enjoying (as I’ve said already) this trip down memory lane, and John Galliano, wow. One of the earlier “weird” things I sniffed. I thought, who would want THAT? And then I understood, eventually… February 23, 2011 at 5:01pm Reply

  • Victoria: Yes!! I saw many fragrances this way–Bandit, Bulgari Black. Now, they are indispensable for me. February 23, 2011 at 6:21pm Reply

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