That’s right, I’m about to drop a whole heap of Yuletide realness in your browsers. I apologise in advance, but at this time of year it’s simply jolly good fun to do a gift guide, and that’s exactly what I intend to do. Over the coming weeks you will be treated to four gift guides, starting with this one and ending with an installment in my Escentual column. I want to point you to a veritable cornucopia of scented awesomeness this Christmas with guides that look at affordable, wallet-destroying and quirky yuletide fragrances for the body and home.
We start today with scented candles and a confession: I blinking well love a fragranced candle. To me, there are few joys more pleasant than walking through the front door at home and being greeted by an intense wave of delightful fragrance, all of which emanates from one simple flame. In this guide you will find five scented candles, some from well-known brands and others from more subversive outfits, but all with The Candy Perfume Boy’s seal of approval. Each has excellent project and longevity, and will make a wonderful treat this Christmas.
Back in biblical times they may have offered up gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, but in 2015 we shake it up a bit with something a little bit more ‘au courant’, and what could be more ‘in’ than oud? Nothing, I tell you. Nothing! Anyway, as the mercury drops and the need for onesies, snuggles and hot water bottles increases, one needs their house to smell cosy above all else. With cosy in mind, it’s safe to say that oud, with its varied odour profile that ranges from sexy barnyard to medicinal spices, via a detour in blue cheese land, is always a good way of warming up the cockles of one’s heart.
Timothy Dunn London’s Frankincense & Oud candle is the perfect antidote to cold winter nights and it does a good job of presenting the familiar odour of oud in a slightly unfamiliar setting. The smell that wafts generously from the candle as it burns is an exotic blend of cinnamon, clove and woods that is warm and spicy with a remarkably dry quality. The oud mingles with the frankincense perfectly to create a diffusive cloud of spicy freshness that is sparkling and metallic. Once lit, this candle acts as a magic carpet, transporting one’s nose to exotic lands.
A perfect gift for: Oud fanatics, spice lovers and anyone deserving of warmth this Christmas.
Buy it: for £36 (210g) from timothydunnlondon.com.
Jo Malone London’s Mimosa & Cardamom is one of my favourite launches this year (that’s a tiny spoiler for the upcoming Candies in December, I know) and it is so for a number of reasons; 1), it’s lovely to see the note of mimosa at the forefront of a relatively mainstream perfume, rather than as a supporting player; and 2, the scent is a gorgeous mélange of mimosa cream and delicious cardamom that is impossible to resist. M&C may be uncomplicated and unfussy, but that’s exactly what Jo Malone London does best and the fragrance is incredibly satisfying, not to mention wholly gorgeous, to wear.
Mimosa & Cardamom the candle is just as lovely as the perfume. It passes the initial whiff test, that is to say that it is suitably fragrant prior to being lit, and once fire is added to the mix the whole thing glows and sings with the delectable scent of fleshy mimosa blooms – pollen-filled and milky, and sweet, watery cardamom. After an hour or so the whole room starts to smell like the nomadic space between two exotic markets, one selling fresh flowers, the other bartering ground spices. This space in between fills with thick clouds of hedonism and it’s blooming lovely. I know this isn’t a Christmas smell, per se, but the clash of freshness and warmth feels perfect as the seasons turn.
A perfect gift for: Jo Malone London lovers, world travellers or anyone with a bohemeian sensibility.
Buy it: for £42 (200g) from Jo Malone London stockists and jomalone.co.uk.
Now here’s something rather special – a luxury candle scented with the delicate tones of Bottega Veneta’s eponymous debut fragrance. The brand’s dedication to luxurious craftsmanship is found in spades within their signature candle. The frosted glass, which is topped by a metal lid stamped with the logo of the house, feels soft and radiates a warm glow and mutes the flashes and flickers of the flame that dances vibrantly as it burns.
But what about the smell? Well if you have sniffed Bottega Veneta, the perfume, you will be familiar with its scent of fizzy bergamot, delightfully soft suede and supple red fruits. The candle captures all of this, feeling sumptuous and luxurious at every turn, and filling the room with the scent of a leather goods store. Delightfully pretty, utterly luxurious and entirely Bottega Veneta, this is one of my all-time favourite scented candles.
A perfect gift for: Lovers of luxury and designer bag addicts. Or simply those who would appreciate a house scented with soft, fruity leather.
Buy it: for £50 exclusively from Harrods. A candle scented with Bottega Veneta’s second pillar fragrance, ‘Knot’, is also available.
The Cochine collection is inspired by the “alluring heat and timeless elegance” of the city of Saigon, and the range includes a number of Eau de Parfums for the home, in addition to scented candles. The standout is Vanille & Tabac Noir, a fragranced candle that “encapsulates the magical allure of Saigon at sunset”. It’s a soft, velvety thing that leads one to think of true luxury – the quiet, refined kind rather than anything remotely showy or blingy.
Vanille & Tabac Noir sounds as if it may be a heavy wedge of sweet wax, but the reality is somewhat different. The fragrance exuded by the candle is on the floral side of vanilla, hinting at supple petals dusted with vanilla beans, and it boasts a baritone of tobacco flower that adds greenery, spice and a touch of honeyed sweetness. I find it to be a very good choice for days when one wants to fragrance their home with something non-imposing yet still perceptible. If Saigon sunsets smells like this then book me a flight!
A perfect gift for: Lover of subtlety and those who wish to vicariously visit Vietnam.
Buy it: for £45 from Harrods, Fortnum & Mason, selected John Lewis stores and online at cochine.com.
I reviewed Robbie Honey’s Tuberose candle earlier this year but months later, and long after its flame blew out for the last time I still have it on my brain. Yes, I’m a self-proclaimed tuberose nut, so my love for a candle scented with the flower is no shock, but please do believe me when I say that Robbie Honey’s interpretation is glorious. This is a candle that follows the ‘Fracas’ school of tuberose thinking, meaning that it centres on the sweet bubblegum and rich buttery facets of the flower, evoking something sultry and scandalous rather than prim and pretty.
Simplicity is the key here, and whilst the scent is rich and complex, the presentation is utterly refined. The coated glass is soft and tactile with a smooth, rubbery finish, and the neutral grey pallet allows the simple white text of the word ‘Tuberose’ to really stand out. This is the kind of candle that would blend into any room, with any decor, which is reason enough to fill each room in your house with a different Robbie Honey white floral candle. I have my eye on the Casa Blanca one…
A perfect gift for: Me (just in case you were thinking of treating me), tuberose lovers or anyone with a modern home that’s begging for a contemporary floral touch.
Buy it: for £42 (or £150 for all four candles in the set) from robbiehoney.com.
All samples provided by their respective brands. Images are my own.