My best friend's parents' apartment in New York has a cabinet full of identical scented candles. At any given point, there’s probably twenty in there, which is both clever (the house always smells amazing/the same, and said best friend is never at a loss for a hostess present in a pinch) and undeniably chic. I wish I could say I’d taken a page out of her mother’s book, but I have never claimed to be spectacularly organized, and the only thing I can seem to stockpile with any regularity is Poland Spring and Fudgesicles.
I didn’t grow up with scented candles (my mother quite rightly riles at the idea of them burning during dinner, and that was the only time we ever used candles) and my sister and I were discouraged from using them because of the quite sensible fear that we’d light one, forget, and burn our house down. At my boarding school, candles were verboten (fire, again) and the only kids who burned incense did so because they were burning something else if you know what I’m saying (if you don’t, I’m saying they were smoking pot). Scented candles never really became a part of my life until I moved to New York—though in college, we were fond of the autumnal apple-cinnamon Glade ones from Boots to combat the pervasive morning-after airs post parties. Scented candles just weren’t something I thought about, though I always read about the sorts who did (people who seem to always have endless room in their luggage for charming objets), who might also bring them on their vacations or foreign fashion-week adventures and talk about how their scent created a sort of home-y atmosphere in various hotels.
When I discovered Cire Trudon, all that changed. The brand's Bond street outpost (now shuttered, but they're available, for around $85, at Barneys and Net-a-Porter), was exquisite—wax busts of Napoleon and Marie-Antoinette that I couldn’t imagine destroying with actual use; elegant tapers in colors like robin’s egg and ochre; matchbooks emblazoned with charming drawings; and glass ‘stink bombs’ that you throw on the floor and shatter to fill the room with scent (and, I suppose, shards of glass—but you have to love that kind of insouciant approach to life). In a cruel twist of fate, the day I bought a Cire Trudon candle the size of a bathroom trashcan (and weight of a heavyset toddler), the elevator in my building broke and I had to lug it up eight flights of stairs. It was the Odalisque scent, and friends, it was worth it. Also, cardio!
Cire Trudon doesn't tend to release new scents often, because they’ve been around forever (133 years longer than America) and they’re the best, so when I came across Calabre, I was obviously intrigued. The description alone was a poetic ode: "On the Calabrian coast of Italy, licorice scents gently perfume the shores as they sail towards Africa. Smoothly blended by the wind with gusts of myrrh and incense, they hum a Mediterranean hymn.” I mean, come on. Tell me you don’t want to smell a Mediterranean hymn. I don’t believe you. Well, I did, and holy harmonizing winds of Africa! It smells great. There's some chamomile and citrus in there with the aforementioned incense, some spicy notes, along with jasmine and violet and at the base of it all: a musky amber. Not too girly, not too masculine, not like a perfume you spritzed in the air—just the right amount of smell. Admittedly, I’m still partial to Odalisque (“Enclosed in citrus and wood bark, the orange blossom weaves a painter’s dream from which escapes the pale volute of smoke from a narghile.”) and Le Roi Soleil, but Calabre is growing on me with each use. Blaze on, you beautiful thing. Here’s to expensive habits.