Let’s Get Lit and Enter The World of Luxury Candles
“My mum told me the big red one from Wilko is the best in the world,” my boyfriend told me, our second week of going out. I entered his room (third date rule, you know) and a waft of warm winter spice took over, making me feel like I just inhaled three cinnamon sticks worth of powder. Was it a Glade room freshener or the bulky candle with “Winter Wonderland” written all over it? To say I was instantly turned off would be an overstatement, but this smell surely did influence the outcome of the night. Luckily, we got over this turmoil and we’re still together, our relationship going almost two years strong. We now live together in a lovely flat in Clapton, with Byredo’s Loose Lips in the middle of the dinner table, waiting for the next romantic dish to be lit up. The scent of luxury is seducing, even for a stingy Northener like Ryan. Don’t worry though, we’ve still got a whole six pack of £2.99 Wilko candles tucked under our sink, waiting for some rainier days.
Add £10 to that one and you’ve got yourself a Yankee Candle, the American brand taking almost half of the whole candle market. With their focus on expanding the range into all directions, they have seemingly created a candle for every season, place or mood. Belgian Waffles? Check. Fluffly Towels? Check. You can even personalise one with an image and a special name, perfect for the next Mother’s or Valentine’s day.
Climbing on the price point ladder, the offering seems to be growing without stopping in sight. Reflecting the world of luxury expanding into mainstream, candles seem to be doing the same. As reported by Business of Fashion at the end of last year, “the market of prestige candles totalled in $101.9 million in the US in the 12 months ending September 2018,” marking a jump of one-third in the last two years. It looks like Ryan and I aren’t alone in burning our money. Where does this big new obsession come from? Perhaps the candles mark a shopper’s first step of buying into a luxury lifestyle, as fashion-approved furniture continues its popularity in place of (or in addition to) designer bags.
Diptyque’s Narguilé & Lily Duo Set
The brand that arguably kicked it all off was Diptyque, a Paris-based perfumery that began as a textile company back in the 1950s. In 1963, they launched their first range of scented candles and the world never looked back. With over 50 different variations in their collection, they have since become synonymous with the smell of luxury, every (other) store on Old Bond Street smelling of Figuier, a fan-favourite scent. Both Theresa May and Beyoncé have Diptyque candles on their rider – I do indeed hope they aren’t the same ones, for the sake of the world’s wellbeing. The latest additions to their wide range are Lily and Narguile, imagined as a duo of candles that can be enjoyed both separately and together, creating the mood of an Eastern garden at dusk.
L: Special Edition of Byredo’s Loose Lips; R: Cire Trudon Salta
Predating Diptyque for a few centuries, the world’s oldest candlemaker still active today Cire Trudon goes all the way back to the 1643 when the idea of candles was a necessity rather than a luxury. However, it was the Louis XV that got “seduced by their perfectly white candles,” and therefore contributed to the popularity of their Manufacture at rue Saint Honoré in Paris. They expanded into candle art, forming sculptures and providing royals with all their imperial necessities. It wasn’t until 2007 that Cire Trudon began its scented journey, coming on the back of a big wave of fragrance houses dipping (get it?) into the luxe candle market. Frédéric Malle as well as the launches of Le Labo and Byredo – all perfumeries which have today become equally respected for their candles and their fragrances. Skincare brands Malin + Goetz and Sisley also joined in, extending their beauty range into an experience. You can totally imagine yourself putting on a face mask in the bath, with the new Leather candle from M+G burning in the background. All of these brands have been consistently growing their candle ranges. Collaborating with Mother of MUAs Pat McGrath on the launch of her own brand in UK, Byredo created a limited edition of 200 glass jars of their lipstick-scented Loose Lips. The latest from Le Labo is Verveine 32, their take on a citrus-infused herbal tea, while Malle launched Country Home and Mahogany, their rich perfumed wax set in matte porcelain jars which resemble artisanal pottery that could be seen down on Columbia Road Market.
Le Labo Verveine 32
Though some may argue it’s all about the scent, most of these brands developed a recognisable visual language that portrays their candle as a design object. Byredo’s black and white contrast, Diptyque’s scattered letters and Cire Trudon’s shiny gold label. Some have gone even further, playing up this notion of using candles as home accessories. Design brand Tom Dixon are equally focusing on the looks as they do on what’s inside, creating jars in a variety of shapes, colours and materials, from glass to metal and stone. Inspired by the work of late Italian artist Piero Fornasetti and led by his daughter Barbara, the design brand Fornasetti is topping the price chart of luxe candles. Their ceramic jars are printed in the painter’s works and come with a matching lid, making the packaging desirable even after the light goes out.
L: Fornasetti Rosetti; R: Tom Dixon Materialism Stone Candle
Coming late to the candle-lit dinner are the fashion houses, using these as their entry to the lifestyle category. Gucci, Preen, Bella Freud, Maison Margiela and Tom Ford all own their own ranges of bougies parfumées, each representative of their own brand aesthetics. Rich, textural florals at Preen; full stories of specific times in history at Freud. Their latest is the 1970 Rainbow Candle, burning to a hippy, Woodstock-like smell of frankincense and patchouli. Gucci’s candles are a clear reflection of Alessandro Michele’s vision for the brand. Maximalist in every sense of the word, Michele designed these objects to look like actual fashion accessories, putting elements of his fashion signatures and placing them onto the ceramics. And it’s no surprise the price of Gucci’s candles go through the roof, making them as expensive as their small leather accessories. Now, that’s something to aspire to.
L: Preen by Thornton Bregazzi Odile; R: Bella Freud 1970 Rainbow
From Wilko to Gucci, there’s plenty to choose from in the candle department. As you melt your money away, those hard-earned coins evaporating into thin air, make sure to enjoy every second of it. If reading Paulo Coelho didn’t work, luxury candles are here to teach you of the importance of time passing by, one wick at a time.