I was faced with a predicament rather recently. Nosing around the Cire Trudon store in London, which is neatly tucked away along the rather immaculate Chiltern Street, I was guided through the brand’s extensive range of scented candles. Each of the candles takes inspiration from something unique, whether that be the mossy stone walls of a convent, the cerebral strangeness of an art movement or even Parisian Laundry Maids. It is most definitely an eclectic collection and it would be fair to say that Cire Trudon do things a little bit differently and they make some striking, and nose-tinglingly beautiful candles as a result – candles that smell unusual and modern, which is no mean feat considering Cire Trudon’s illustrious history.
“Founded in 1663, on the threshold of the reign of Louis XIV, Cire Trudon is the oldest candlemaker in the world still active today. Throughout the 17th century, the manufacturer became the Royal Wax Manufacturer and official supplier to the French court, then to Napoleon Bonaparte. Cire Trudon received a gold medal during the 1889 Universal Exhibit as a reward for the outstanding quality of its candles and wax.”
– Cire Trudon
So, back to my dilemma. As I moved along the line of candles, picking up the heavy glass cloches that encases each of the jade-coloured glass jars, twisting them towards my nose to inhale their swirling aromas, I was posed with an impossible question: which one would you like? “Argh! Don’t make me choose”, I thought, “they’re all so darn nice, how am I ever going to pick one to take away?” Not one to be good at making decisions on the spot, and not being a fan of the idea of having to move into the store to live out the rest of my days because choosing when there is extensive choice is impossible for me, I let my nose do the talking, as it were, and picked out the candle whose scent intrigued me the most. That candle was Solis Rex.
Top: Eucalyptus, Leafy Green Notes and Orange
Heart: Fir’s Bark
Base: Cedarwood and Incense
How Does it Smell?
Solis Rex (‘Sun King’ in Latin) takes inspiration from the “elaborate parquetry of Château de Versailles’s famous Hall of Mirrors”. This candle captures the “vapours of palace’s famous parquet floors and dripping wax from its storied candelabras” through a blend of coniferous trees, incense and citrus. Solis Rex teeters on the borders of the literal and the abstract, painting an image through its smoke that is entirely evocative of another time and place, but not photo-realistically so. Such is the power of scent and Cire Trudon have created something wonderful with their candles – these are not just tools to make a home smell fragrant, nor are they handsome objets d’art to draw the eye, they are in fact little olfactory time capsules that, once lit burn with the fires of history. How remarkable is that?
So how does it actually smell? Well, I definitely get some hints of cold stone, evoking the image of crumbling old blocks of ornate masonry. There’s also a strong pine-like green quality that is both woody and herbaceous, bringing a solid undercurrent of fine wood carvings to the mix. To cut through these mineral and pine notes, a good dose of bitter orange is added, providing an anise vibe that plays nicely into the resinous wave of incense that billows up from the base. In totality, Solis Rex smells like the moment a door is opened to an ancient room – a room that hasn’t been disturbed in years and is preserved perfectly. The scents of stone, of wood and wax have been allowed to macerate for years, waiting patiently for that one moment when the door is opened and they can escape into the atmosphere.
I enjoy burning my Cire Trudon Solis Rex candle for a number of reasons; partially due to the fact that it is presented beautifully and handsomely; but also because it has excellent throw, scenting a whole room comfortably but in a unobtrusive manner. The main reason though, is the fact that the smell is uniquely complex and unusual, which is a rarity in the world of home fragrance. This is not a smell of a flower, or a single ingredient, or even a particular fragrance family – no, this is the scent of a specific moment in time, a smellscape to transform one’s home into the Hall of Mirrors in the Château de Versailles. A three-bedroom end-of-terrace becomes a vast expanse of pine tries, of candle wax, stone walls and wooden floors. All one has to do is strike a match and breathe in.
Solis Rex is available as a 270g candle for £62.
Sample, notes and quotes via Cire Trudon. Images are my own.