From Parisian pots to the latest releases from major luxury brands, scented candles are lighting up more and more interiors
by Emilie Veillon | collages: Nausicaa Board
Perhaps we've all come across the vanilla or chocolate version that closes the long maze of cupboards in an Ikea shop. Or smelled at a friend's house a rare find in one of the chic bazaars of Paris, London or New York. Everyone is looking for their own scented candle. And this trend is now spreading to all spheres of the market: from Zara's home collections to the luxury boxes of major brands such as Dior or Louis Vuitton.
Dior or Louis Vuitton, as well as the most natural versions such as those of Jardin des Monts or the cutting-edge creations of Cire Trudon and Baobab Collection.
Sometimes decorative objects, sometimes fragrant masterpieces, depending on the quality of the manufacturing process and the ingredients used to make them, these candles follow the same path as the olfactory families of skin fragrances. Woody for the living room. Floral for the kitchen. Musky for the bedroom. Or the other way around. A great mix of scents that varies with the seasons and moods. Because these atmospheric flames are said to have relaxing properties. The power to tint our interiors with a chalet atmosphere where a fire is crackling, a field of centifolia roses under the May sun or a forest of fir trees wet with rain.
The greatest perfumers have made it their playground. Like Jacques Cavallier-Belletrud, who last year designed four scented candles, L'Air du Jardin, Ile Blanche, Feuilles d'Or and Dehors Il Neige, for Louis Vuitton. In ceramics, signed by the designer Marc Newson, which are transported from one room to another thanks to their leather handles, hand-stitched in the workshops of the house. "Everyone wants a piece of luxury in their home. A bag is for going out. A garment is for getting ready. The branded candle is a guarantee of the good taste of the brand that allows people to bring refinement into their daily well-being," analyses Alberto Morillas, a master perfumer who works for the biggest brands through Firmenich.
According to him, the success of scented candles goes hand in hand with the rise in the diffusion of scents in the home, in shops, company offices and hotels over the last ten years. Home fragrances are said to play a role in the feeling of indoor comfort, and even in the desire to consume or buy. As long as it remains subtle and limited to certain spaces," he moderates. There is nothing more intrusive than an overly scented jewellery store or a hotel that diffuses its olfactory imprint in all its rooms and restaurant in addition to the lobby. The advantage with a candle is that you can control the emanation. You can turn it off after two or three hours while it scents the room.
In the memory of this designer, who has created more than 500 fragrances, the first scented candles that made a mark - inspired by the potpourri favoured by the British - were developed in France in the 1960s. "Rigaud candles were in all the chic salons of the time, with their two silver cups that were placed on top of each other.
The object was as important as its smell. Viviane and Mario Rigaud, in their boudoir-like Parisian boutique, had developed a soft wax formula whose main characteristic is to reveal the richness of the natural extracts that make up Rigaud perfumes," he continues.
Their first creation, the Cypress candle, dark green in mouth-blown glass, was quickly exported to the White House at the time of Jacqueline Kennedy. In the 1970s, other candles followed - Cythère, Tournesol, Gardénia, making the headlines in decoration magazines. Now distributed in more than 30 countries around the world, the Rigaud collection has remained a reference for connoisseurs and exceptional homes. The list of prestigious clients, such as Prince Albert of Monaco, Prince Charles of England, the Vatican and even the Quai d'Orsay, bears witness to this.
CANDLES OF EMOTION
The other French pioneer of the genre is Diptyque. This chic bazaar in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Paris, where three scented candles attracted attention in 1963 - Hawthorn, Cinnamon and Tea. Since the 2000s, nearly half a million pieces have been made each year in themed scents: floral, woody, spicy, fruity, herbaceous. "Diptyque has always created emotional candles that appeal to the epicurean elite. The fig tree really does smell like the tree. It's not easy, because behind the flame lies a whole technique to ensure optimal combustion and diffusion," continues Alberto Morillas, who founded the Mizensir brand of handcrafted scented candles with his wife in 1999, which is now managed by their daughter Véronique.
Doped up on subtle fragrances even in his home in Vandœuvres, the nose had taken to creating his own scented waxes. During a dinner at the Morillas' home, Patrick Firmenich - then head of the Geneva-based company specialising in the creation of aromas and perfumes - and his wife marvelled at the olfactory atmosphere that reigned there. "Very visionary, he suggested that I create a candle as a corporate gift for the next Christmas. It was so successful that we started selling them. That's how Mizensir was born, a play on the word "wax", in reference to the British title of nobility", says the founder who has developed a hundred or so references, handmade in a Geneva workshop. Among them, a candle has just been designed by the perfumer for Le Temps. Profits from sales will be donated to the NGO Race for Water, which fights to preserve the oceans.
THE TIME MAGAZINE 12/10/19