Candles & Home Scents: 14 posts

Favorite Scented Candles for Daydreaming

I have a weakness for scented candles and the autumn-winter season brings many temptations. L’Artisan Parfumeur’s collection, for instance, offers plenty of reverie-inspiring options from  jasmine (Souffle de Jasmin) to saffron (Voyage à Constantinople) and more. The candles burn cleanly, without smoke or soot, and the scent lingers for a few hours in the air. These days I’m lighting Brise de Mimosa whenever I crave sunshine and verve. This candle is redolent of mimosa branches, green leaves, and violet flowers. The aroma of mimosa is delicate and complex, but Brise de Mimosa captures it well; it only takes a few minutes to fill my room with the scent of Provence.

If not mimosa, then I choose to festoon my room with the garlands of violets by lighting Molton Brown’s Exquisite Vanilla & Violet Flower candle.  True to its name, it smells of violet bonbon and fresh flowers and green notes make it airy. The lavender-tinted glass makes it a charming decorative item.

Another elegant option is Midi Eternel from the niche perfume house of Sulékó. Based in Paris, Sulékó draws on the French perfume traditions and the Slavic heritage of its founder, Anastasia Sokolow. The perfume collection, for instance, was inspired by the Russian fairy tales, but the candle is a tribute to the south of France and its heady aromas. The main accent is green, with a touch of myrtle, rosemary, and pine needles for brightness. The salty nuance that becomes obvious the longer the candle burns evokes the scents of sea breeze and driftwood. Midi Eternel has a rejuvenating, crisp fragrance, perfect for those who prefer their room scents unsweetened.

Byredo’s Tree House candle is similarly polished. The main chord includes cedarwood, sandalwood, and hay, with allspice and myrrh adding darker, warmer layers. It was inspired by the creations of the Japanese wood master Takashi Kobayashi and his tree houses. Byredo’s idea captures the aromas of polished woods in a candle form. Even after the candle is snuffed out, the peppery, balsamic scent floats in the air, evoking glistening wood shavings in different shades of amber.

Pro tip: To make any candle release its scents evenly, burn it for no longer than two hours at the time and trim the wick on regular basis. It will delight you longer and keep its scent until the last drop of wax.

What are your favorite candles and home scents?

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

The Art of Scented Candles

When my mother travels, she packs with her a votive candle in her favorite scent, rose, violet or mimosa. A familiar scent makes even the blandest hotel room feel cozier and brighter. I started following her example some years ago. Should one want to select from the range of excellent scented candles, the choice these days is overwhelming. So, in my new FT column, The Art of Candles, I’ve selected my current favorites.

Here is one, for instance.

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Haiku of the Day : Snowflakes of Autumn

At the beginning of fall one of the resolutions I made was to go running on a regular basis. As they say, be careful what you wish for, because lately my days have been on a fast track. Nevertheless, one must carve out moments of contemplation even during busy, stressful periods, and my other autumnal resolution, to read more poetry, came to the rescue. Poetry concentrates images and sensations, and it’s an effect it shares with perfumery.

Japanese poet Yamazaki Sōkan (1465–1553) was a poet and calligrapher in the shogun’s court, but he gave up the courtier’s life and became a Buddhist monk. Though I have no wish to renounce the world, reading his poetry is like shutting out the noise and focusing on the beautiful. Today I bring you one of my favorite autumnal poems by this haiku master.

If they were silent
flights of herons on dark sky –
snowflakes of autumn.

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Lily of the Valley Potpourri

A couple of years ago my aunt gave me a book called L’Art de Simplicité (The Art of Simplicity) that promised to declutter my life. After the first five pages, I felt like a failure. My bedroom is nothing like a room at a Zen monastery, my kitchen resembles a spice aisle at Kalustyan’s, and my living room with its overspilling bookshelves is more reminiscent of a public library during children’s hour than a space where two adults live.

lily of the valley potpourri

After reading much sensible advice on paring down and retaining only the essentials, I put L’Art de Simplicité down in my ziggurat of other books and haven’t picked it up since. You know what? I like having a bit of chaos in my life. It doesn’t stress me out that my perfume samples aren’t sorted alphabetically or that I have far too many bottles of flavored vinegar. What are the essentials anyway? What if I want to make salad with blackcurrant and rose vinegar today and try grilled chicken marinated in the juniper variety. I also can’t decide whether I want to wear a cologne or a voluptuous rose, so all options are around.

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Holiday Gift Ideas : My Favorite Candles

I love giving gifts, and not just for Christmas. When I want to treat someone to a scented present, a candle is one of my top choices. By lighting the wick, you transform the ambiance of a room in just a matter of minutes. You can give L’Occitane Feuille de Figuier as a memento of the summer, or L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Thé et Pain d’Épices for a bit of winter holiday cheer. With Comme des Garcons’s Jalsaimer candle, you can send your friends on a tour of Rajasthani temples perfumed with myrrh and frankincense. It’s up to you to choose the fantasy.

candles

Although it’s easier to select a scented candle than a bottle of perfume, you should still research your recipient’s tastes. Is she a lover of all things sweet and floral? Does he like clean, understated colognes? In general, you have more leeway when it comes to home fragrances, because while someone may not like wearing gourmand perfumes, they will enjoy the scent of vanilla and gingerbread spices in the air.

Having come across my fair share of candles that were either badly scented and/or overpriced, I have little patience for high-end brands that don’t deliver on their promise.  A good-quality candle should have a strong smell when unlit, fill the space with perfume when burning and also retain its fragrance as long as wax remains in the jar. There should be no scents of soot, burning paper or wool, or other off-odors (assuming that you clip the wick regularly).

It’s best to burn your scented candle for no more than 2 hours at a time. But with the choices below, these 2 hours should be plenty to perfume the whole room.

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From the Archives

Latest Comments

  • Marianne in What Makes A Perfume Great: Hello Victoria, thank you for this elegant and informative post. Reading is, as always, a delightful way to learn, and I’m learning a great deal from you and the comments… September 18, 2021 at 3:27am

  • Old Herbaceous in What Makes A Perfume Great: What a clear explanation of this technique! I especially appreciate the analogy to Balanchine’s choreography. September 17, 2021 at 10:02pm

  • Nancy Chan in Corsican Eucalyptus and the Scent of the Maquis: Hi Cornelia, Oh do try these soaps. The Imortelle (uplifting range) soap was on my next shopping list, but Diptyque’s Tam Dao soap beat it to the front of the… September 17, 2021 at 5:19pm

  • Cornelia Blimber in What Makes A Perfume Great: I love your descriptions of these iconic perfumes. I smelled all of them; Vent Vert was one of my first perfumes. No 22, Cuir de Russie, Bois des Iles, and… September 17, 2021 at 4:38pm

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