Candles are a yearlong obsession for me, but as temperatures drop and gift-giving season nears, that obsession becomes really obvious. My apartment starts looking like an episode of “ Hoarders” waiting to happen: pretty little glass and ceramic jars on every surface, matches strewn everywhere. The wick maintenance in and of itself has me shuffling around like a crazy cat lady, nipping away at the charred tips so they stay just ¼” long—optimal for burning and advisable to minimize smoking. I keep doubles—triples even—of the favorites, stacked in boxes just in case one should evaporate before I’d thought to restock. But I know I’m not alone. Nicola Formichetti relies on mini scented candles to make every hotel room his own, and I must have counted ten Diptyque jars in Vanessa Traina’s house (“I’m obsessed with a good-smelling apartment,” she admitted.) Of course, a nice candle also makes a lovely gift—I’m getting all Martha on you—and having a cache of the best ones means you’ll never scramble to a house warming/dinner party/office gifting empty-handed.
My current roster is made up of earthy, smoky, full-bodied scents that pretty much all fall under the umbrella of “sexy”. There are no springtime florals or sparkling citrus top notes over here between November and February. I want to feel like I’ve sunken into a silk velvet sofa in the lobby of a very chic, dimly lit French hotel, listening to groovy music that I’ve never heard of and having a glass of Pinot Noir with someone very good looking. In reality, I’ll be on my linen sofa, streaming Pandora and leafing through the new Style.com magazine for the fifteenth time, or devouring Chanel: Her Life. But these candles (plus the wine) will definitely elevate that experience.
Catbird “Campfire”: This Brooklyn-based jewelry shop has been producing hand-poured candles in New York for about a year. They’re made from domestically grown soybeans (and have a lead-free cotton wick), so you can even dab the melted wax on your wrists or neck for some scent. Campfire is “refined and animalistic”, with notes of wood smoke, saddle leather and honey.
Astier de Villatte “Yakushima”: Housed in the brand’s signature earthenware, this delicate blend of cedar, moss and wild Azalea from the Japanese island is a new addition to the destination-inspired collection. The candle is made of vegetable wax, doesn't contain paraffin or other petrochemical by-products, and will be available on Barneys.com any day now.
Christian Dior “30 Montaigne”: An oldie but a goodie, 30 Montaigne was created by Hedi Slimane to scent Dior’s flagship boutique. Think Cardamom, Star Anise, licorice, White Amber, Madagascar vanilla and Arabic incense—a heady (no pun intended), rich fragrance.
Diptyque “Curiosities”: A limited edition candle created by perfumer Olivia Giacobetti for Diptyque’s “34 Blvd Saint Germain” collection. The ceramic container was inspired by the brand’s signature oval labels. It’s a curious scent indeed…if you like cedar, you’ll like this.
Balenciaga “L’Essence”: Perhaps the most affordable thing from Balenciaga yet! Characterized by “the fragrant interplay of leaves, delicate flowers and soft mosses” and topped with a “sensual violet note,” this is the most floral of the bunch, but it doesn’t veer off into girly territory. Cool and sophisticated—exactly what you’d expect from Mr. Ghesquière.
Photo by ITG