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From a dusty library and Marrakesh spice market to a wood-burning hearth and evergreen forest: These are the notes sought after in the scented candles of our style experts and friends.
It’s hard to come indoors in September after summer’s skin and soul-restoring days. But a great scented candle eases the pain of the retreat.
Of course, you could light candles that deliver lovely and intoxicating notes of summer flowers and citrus fruits into your midst—that might let you hang on to those summer memories for just a few more precious minutes. But we love to plunge head-first into the romanticism of autumn with rich, earthy and moodier fragrant candles. And it appears we’re not alone.
“Plush, familiar and pleasantly gloomy”: Nathalie Atkinson, freelance arts and culture writer, describes her ideal scented candle for fall.
“I became a fan of classically-trained perfumer Lyn Harris and her niche brand in the early 2000s when I lived in England. Now I get a friend to bring me back her cult-following candle L’Air de Rien ($63 at Selfridges) whenever they’re near a stockist. It’s based on the bespoke perfume Harris created for actress Jane Birkin in 2006, one that included an esoteric wish list of notes: ‘old forgotten houses,’ floor polish, her brother Andrew’s hair, their father’s pipe. I love to burn it in the cooler months because it’s a musky warm skin, faintly amber and neroli, lived-in scent. Like a dusty well-loved library, L’Air de Rien also has that distinctive old-book smell of vaguely sweet vanillin that is related to lignin, the note found in decomposing paper. Plush, familiar and pleasantly gloomy.”
Lush forest, gourmand spices and sparkling citrus: These are the ingredients of editor Deborah Fulsang’s favourite scented candle.
“Last year, my son and daughter headed out to do their holiday shopping. What landed under the Christmas tree for me? Why a beautifully scented candle of course. (They know well their mom’s love of a dimly lit evening room with many candles burning, a glass of wine or cocktail at hand.) Apparently, they worked in tandem in choosing the right one. “Your candles always smell the same!” says my daughter. Clearly that scent memory guided them. They knew they’d found the right one at Indigo when they whiffed Illume’s Winter White candle. It packs a gorgeously balanced scent blend of evergreen, spicy peppercorn, cardamom, amber and citrus. To me, it embodies a cottage-country forest, wood-burning fireplace and deliciously spiced meal all in one, with the addition of a fresh hint of fruit to keep the effect light and sparkling. It’s brilliant.”
Prop stylist Andrea McCrindle channels vintage spaces, romantic woodlands and exotic spice markets with her fall scented candle choice.
“I’m a bit of natural earthy girl with a love for rich green mossy walls, forest floors, musky old parchment paper, wood burning fire and the allure of an intoxicating Marrakesh spice market. I have a fantasy of living in a gypsy caravan in the woods below a canopy of string lights with a candle-lit path. It’s parked just outside Paris in the thirties. I have a sumptuously torrid love for the delicious Byron candle by Cire Trudon ($95USD, at Saks Fifth Avenue). Paired with a good glass of wine at the end of long day, it’s the perfect cure-all.”
Rick Webster, visual merchandiser and stylist (Details by Rick), creates a wood-burning hearth atmosphere with his Woodfire candle.
“My choice: Illume Woodfire ($30 at Indigo), but only in winter months. I do not have a fireplace but I turn on the Fireplace Channel, light the candle and chill out!”
Crisp and cozy defines the ideal fall setting created by writer and editor Alexandra Donaldson’s favourite scented candle.
“If there’s one thing I really want my home to smell like, it’s a forest. Especially in the fall when I can bring a bit of the outdoors in. No surprise then that I’m constantly on the hunt for the perfect, pine or balsam scented candle. So far, my pick is Nest’s Birchwood Pine ($56 at Sephora), which always manages to give my cozy little apartment a touch of evergreen. The notes are white pine with birchwood and balsam fir, and a touch of warmth is added via amber and musk. It’s crisp and cozy all at the same time. It gives you the outdoorsy expanse of a forest while never abandoning that cozy feeling you need for a fall or winter night in.”
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