It’s Valentine’s Day today and if you’ve forgotten to get your loved one a gift and are within the vicinity of a Miller Harris store, I may have just saved your bacon – you can thank me later! This year, MH are encouraging us to ditch the idea of a dinner out, or a cinema date, or even a romantic stroll in the park, no, they want us to stay in bed and you know, do the stuff you do in bed (you know, crocheting, sleeping, antiquing etc.). To aid you in your romantic antics, Miller Harris have created a beautifully fragrant and niftily customisable scented candle featuring one of their most stunning scents: Rose Silence.
Here we are then, at the very end of 2016. It feels, especially after the losses of George Michael, Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher, to name but a few, within the last week, a very bittersweet year. I say bittersweet because it’s not just the loss of the huge number of great talents this year, the likes of Bowie, Prince, Victoria Wood… (the list is endless), but also because the world seems to be a much harsher place than it did one year ago. Whatever your politics, I think we can all agree that 2017 is the year that we all need to work together to make our world a better place.
From a fragrant perspective, 2016 has actually been a pheomenal year. I’d be lying to you if I said that it was easy for me to pick out my very favourite scents of the year because I really did like a lot this year, and it feels like there certainly was a huge amount of good stuff, whether that be unique and interesting new things, or familiar styles that were executed very well. But you will be pleased to know that I was able to narrow down my choices and pick out the winners of The Candies 2016. I do need a stiff drink after all that work though…
If this is your first time attending The Candies, I shall explain how things work. Firstly, you may attend in your pyjamas and you do not need to worry about drinking too much and making a fool of yourself, in fact, such actions are encouraged. We have a number of awards to give out, each of which is split out by Mainstream and Niche, and then by gender. There are also awards for Best Top Down Design and even a Sour Candy Award, which names and shames the worst perfume of the year. This year we also have the addition of the Best Scented Product Award which celebrates the best smelly product for your body or home. It’s a full programme, so let’s get started!
As of today, there are just under two calendar weeks until Christmas day! If, like me, you have neglected your Christmas shopping entirely up to this point, or if you simply have a few tricky gifts left to buy, you will more than likely be scouring the blogs for some gift inspiration in the form of fragrance gift guides. These pieces can be pretty helpful in guiding us to some special presents for those special people in our lives, so this year I’m bringing you two gift guides; a luxury fragrance guide in my Escentual column and today, this very guide that you’re reading right now!
This year I wanted to do a little something different with my Christmas Gift Guide. Instead of picking out scents for him and for her, or for mums and dads, or even personality types, I just wanted to gather together a selection of beautiful things that smell great. So that’s exactly what this gift guide is – a collection of fragrant things that are just gorgeous and will make wonderful gifts for those people in your life that like smelly things. They range from fragrances to shower gels, shimmering powders and candles, and whilst they may vary in their style, they all share one thing in common: they are drop dead gorgeous in every way!
On my list of things I’ve always wanted to own, a Fornasetti candle is right up there. Or ‘was right up there’, I should say, because I now own two. Now, the reason I have lusted after one of these candles so desperately is down to the simple fact that they are just so darn beautiful and dare I say, a little bit kitsch too. Fornasetti candles are as much ‘objet d’art’ as they are vessels for home fragrance, meaning that they can make one’s home smell beautiful whilst drawing the eye to something decorative too. They do what many candles don’t, which is smell good whilst also creating a talking point, adding a touch of something unique to any room.
Piero Fornasetti was a Milanese artist who painted, made sculptures, designed interiors and engraved books, amongst many other things. He is arguably one of the most prolific artists of the 20th century, having created over 11,000 decorative products within his lifetime. Following Fornasetti’s death in the 1980s, the artist’s son, Barnaba has continued the brand, reviving and reinterpreting his father’s designs, placing them on a number of items, ranging from plates to umbrellas and of course, candles too.
Fornasetti’s signature design centres around the artist’s muse: opera singer, Lina Cavalieri. The classical features of her distinctively beautiful face have been reproduced in over 350 designs, showing her in range of guises, many of which have been abstract, whimsical and humorous, to say the least. Fornasetti candles boast numerous designs, many of which see Cavalieri’s form presented as a range of characters, or simply focusing on her features. The designs also verge on the wacky with candles printed with sardine and fountain pen designs. Yup, that’s right, Fornasetti certainly knows how to make the sublime out of the ridiculous!
Well here’s a rather wonderful treat for the card carrying members of the Muglerati out there: an Angel scented candle. Now, those of you who follow MUGLER will know that the brand has previously dabbled with the world of home fragrance, having launched some beautiful Angel candles previously in dinky star-shaped votives in addition to small Alien candles in purple tins as gifts with purchases. But never has MUGLER gone all out candle-wise, well, until now that is and it would be fair to say that they are now absolutely spoiling us with some wonderfully delectable treats to burn and scent one’s home.
Launching as a limited edition for 2016, the MUGLER Perfumed Candles are available scented with the brand’s two iconic feminines: Angel and Alien. What’s more, they are also available online at MUGLER scented with the Les Exceptions fragrances for a slightly higher price. These candles extend one’s MUGLER addiction into the home, allowing members of the Muglerati to truly commit to the cause by allowing their favourite MUGLER fragrance to permeate their boudoir as well as their body. MUGLER says that these Perfumed Candles will “prolong fragrant pleasures with a new perfume ritual” and guess what? I’m all for that in every way, shape and form!
“The Angel candle will transform your interior into a boudoir of delight: a whirlwind of delicious emotions, sensuality and glamour. Containing notes of vanilla, chocolate and caramel counterbalanced by the forceful woody scent of patchouli, the fragrance will envelop the home in a warming oriental gourmand scent.”
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.
As I walked up the Crawford Street in Marylebone, London, towards the new Perfumer H store, I must admit that I had a fair few butterflies in my stomach. I’m a nervous person at the best of times, but I was especially so on this occasion because I was on my way to meet Lyn Harris, the nose that puts the ‘Perfumer’ and the ‘H’ into Perfumer H. Harris’ CV precedes her, having built the hugely successful fragrance house, Miller Harris, from scratch in her early twenties, to the global lifestyle brand that it is today, Harris has a knack for making unfussy perfumes with a spirit of clarity. This spirit is not lost in Perfumer H however, it is presented in an entirely different way.
Stepping across the threshold of Perfumer H, I needn’t have been worried or been nervous at all, as the whole experience was an entirely relaxed affair, from the setup of the shop to the rather insightful chat I had with Harris herself over a cup of hot bergamot tea. As I enter the store, I’m greeted by a dog snoozing calmly on the chair. His name is Pop and he’s a handsome border terrier who, quite rightly, appears rather at home amongst the inviting, yet surprisingly minimal decor of the store. The presence of Pop cements the fact that Perfumer H is not a brand in the typical sense, with a pre-defined personality or ethos. Instead, Perfumer H is an extension of Lyn Harris, and its personality is Lyn as she is today, and it says what she wants to say, all through the medium of olfaction.