Kurkdjian’s Christmas candle magic

MFK-Ligne Noël Bougies PArfumées-LDWhen it comes to Christmas few gifts are as nice as scented candles and few scented candles are as nice as this trio of bougies from perfumer Francis Kurkdjian. Presented as a boxed set containing three mini candles (with a burn time of 20 hours each), they look fantastic and smell of gingerbread and iris so have a festive twist but not one so Christmassy they can’t be used beyond December.

Available from Selfridges, Liberty, Harvey Nichols, John Lewis and Les Senteurs.

Jonathan Ward launches diffusion line

JW CANDLEQuite often when I review scented candles or diffusers the reaction I get is “sounds nice but they’re so expensive!” Given that good candles can set you back £35 or more it’s a fair comment, especially in these difficult economic times.  With this in mind Jonathan Ward – a man who’s a true wiz with wax – is to launch a diffusion line of candles offering customers the chance of accessing his luxury brand at slightly lower price point.

The range still has the features Jonathan Ward is famous for (the double wicks, clean burning wax and complex, multi-dimensional fragrances) but the candles cost a mere £16 and the diffusers £20 making them roughly half the price as the mainline collection.

Thoroughly English, the collection of six candles is inspired by all things native (hence names like Dorset Shore, Mightnight Sherwood and Vintage Tweed). Woodstock, above, is a blend of aromatic English woods like oak and birch along with patchouli and forest flowers like bluebell. Inexpensive maybe but certainly not unsophisticated.

The “J” range by Jonathan Ward will be available from www.jonathanwardlondon.com from April 15th.

The Grooming Guru’s Christmas Gift Guide For Her

Stuck for a present idea for the woman in your life? How about these glorious gifts?

03102012042806There are scented candles and then there are Fornasetti scented candles, which don’t just smell great but turn the humble room fragrance into a mini work of art. This one, the Flora di Fornasetti candle, fills the room with gloriously intoxicating notes of lily of the valley, jasmine and tuberose and comes in the most exquisite ceramic vessel and gift box. £99 from Selfridges.com
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Face facts, how a bottle of fragrance looks is just as important as how it smells when it comes to gift giving. And who could not be won over by this orb-topped fragrance from Vivienne Westwood? Deliciously feminine, with notes of bergamot, red english rose and heliotrope, Boudoir is a no-brainer when it comes to gifting so go buy! £34 for 30ml eau de parfum from escentual.com

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I always think that Molton Brown products look like colourful little jewels. And if that’s the case then this Orion Gift Set, featuring six colourful bath and shower gels is a veritible treasure trove for beauty magpies. Looks fab and best of all, is easy to wrap! £36 from nivenandjoshua.com

ren-gift-set-05I love REN as a brand and suspect she’ll love you if you gave her this Neroil Duo Gift Set featuring a Neroli and Grapefruit Body Wash and Body Cream. They smell  fantastic and the great thing is that, once they’re on the side of the bath, you can can proceed to steal them for yourself. £28 from renskincare.com

Tidy_All_PurpleLizThough the contents of a woman’s handbag largely remain a mystery to me I’ve seen enough friends rummaging around in them to know that they’re clearly a bit like the Tardis inside (i.e big and very messy). This dinky little Aspinal Handbag Tidy solves part of that problem by safely housing a few essentials like lipstick, lipgloss and contact lenses. £65 from aspinaloflondon.com

black orchidYou probably know by now how much I love Tom Ford fragrances. Well, Black Orchid is one of his best selling signature fragrances for women and this gift set, featuring a 50ml bottle of the rich, sensual fragrance along with a 75ml body lotion, is guaranteed to make a big impression on Christmas morning. £75 from selfridges.com

whole lotta colourI must confess I don’t know much about make up (the last time I wore any myself was back in the Eighties when it was de rigueur for men to slap up) but what I do know from reading the posts and tweets of my fellow beauty press and beauty bloggers is that Clinique’s Chubby Sticks* have been a bit of a sensation this year. So much so that this Whole Lotta Colour gift set has sold out on their own website and it’s pot luck whether you’ll be able to find a store near you that has a set. But since it’s clearly one of this year’s must have gifts you’ll get extra points if you do find one. So what are you doing reading this? You’d better get shopping! £30 from a store near you (hopefully).

*they’re lip colour balms in case you were wondering

Josephine’s Rose candle by Jonathan Ward – the ultimate bedroom accessory

Looking for a great Valentine’s gift for the woman in your life? Then how about this fantastic scented candle from Jonathan Ward London? Inspired by the legendary romance between Napoleon and Jospehine and the latter’s passion for roses, Josephine’s Rose features a medley of rose notes (english rose, tuberose and tea rose) but manages to avoid being old fashioned or ‘Nanish’ thanks to a sexy, musky note of amber.

As with the Serge Lutens fragrance Tuberose Criminelle (which I reviewed here) when rose is ‘sexed-up’ by other ingredients, debased a little if you will, it always smells miles better to me.

As always Jonathan is clever with his choice of ingredients – taking something potentially ordinary and giving it his own unique twist so it becomes extraordinary. Ideal for setting the perfect bedroom mood. Just add matches and willing partner.

For more info go to www.jonathanwardlondon.com

Insider Interview: candle king Jonathan Ward

I get the distinct impression that if authenticity were a fragrance note, like jasmine, lavender or amber, it’d be slap bang at the very heart of Jonathan Ward’s increasingly popular fragranced candles. In fact, it permeates everything he does – from the formulation of the candles themselves to the inspiration behind them (often very personal), right down to his frank and open blog (a must-read for industry types and anyone thinking of starting a business as well as fans of the brand itself). 

Given that my own blog is aimed at men, though, and I’m always banging on about the benefits of room fragrance to men,  I wanted to quiz him specifically about men and candles, a subject I sometimes think counts as The Last Taboo! 

GG: Though an increasing number of men are buying into home fragrance products many are still strangely resistant to their benefits. Why do you think this is?

JW: I believe it’s the idea or association that candles are women’s area of expertise and sometimes I think that women can be quite protective of their territory. I often spend time in the trenches, as it were, meeting my customers in stores and at events. Quite often I’ll see couples and if the man notices my products first and tries to steer his wife over to the display, quite often the woman doesn’t like to be “told” by their partner that this might be a good product for them. I definitely feel that they feel this is an infringement! So come one, ladies, let your men develop the confidence to choose their own scents. Of course, some men will never get their heads around the concept of scenting their environments unless it’s with odors other than essential oils!

GG: Presumably, you’d like more men to get into the candle-buying habit then? JW: Men are so cosmopolitan now and the idea of men as shut-down, emotionally-stunted, neanderthal caveman is so dated. Men’s tastes are highly developed and scent is an area that they are embracing without too much prompting. I do believe there is a market for masculine candles but PLEASE, if I see one that has the word ‘sport’ on it, I may retire. My products have a strong masculine handwriting throughout the scent choices and are not overtly floral or feminine.

GG: What are the benefits of having scented candles in your home if you’re a man?

JW: Lighting a candle awakens one of your primary senses and like a magic wand can wash over you uplifting your mood. For men who lead busy or demanding lives, candles can play a part in helping to relax and soothe. Also, the very nature of candlelight as opposed to electric lighting encourages relaxation.

GG: Which of your candles would you specifically recommend to men and why?

JW: The “Kartushya” from my Russian Collection has a striking heart of birch leaf and rich herbaceous notes complimented with pepper and amber. It’s the perfect male (but not overtly so) candle. “Citrine Ivy” is also a good choice since it’s a fresh tart clean citrus blend of lime flower, grapefruit and tangerine oil with uplifting verbena. Perfect for the study and for the kitchen, offering clean positive masculine notes.

GG: Since men are not quite so savvy about fragranced candles what tips can you give them about how to get the most out of them?

JW: For the first burn commit to 3-4 hours. You need to ensure that the wax completely turns to liquid (anyway this is where all your fragrance is released from). When extinguishing don’t blow it out otherwise you’ll just spoil all the aroma you have just built up. Use a small candle dish or coaster and drop it onto the top of the candle so that it suffocates. Once dried, trim the wick to a 1/4″ and relight.

GG: Why is it important to you to use paraffin-free organic soy and beeswax in your candles? 

JW: There are lots of natural wax blends, this one just happens to be the blend that we designed for our fragrances.. Its the one that works best with my aromas and I find its perfectly balanced. I don’t think that there is one natural wax blend that is better, they’re just different. I choose a paraffin free wax base because I find that it eliminates soot and smoke from the room and gives a cleaner burn. I try not to get all political about it but I do say to people if you care about your personal space and air quality, choose cleaner products to preserve your air quality.

GG: Is there a best place to place a candle in a room/house?

JW: I consider mine to be statement candles so they look great on the coffee table or fireplace. You really want to position it so that it is in a place with good airflow so that the scent can circulate. Never put candles next to a window or under a fan. Its a huge no no as the charge of wind or oxygen will only force the candle to burn faster, hence wasting precious wax.

GG: Of all the ingredients you use which has your favourite smell and why?

JW: I love amber – its in 40-50% of my candles and enhances that masculine handwriting I mentioned earlier.

GG: If you were to create a Jonathan Ward candle (i.e. one that was just for you) which ingredients/notes would it contain to reflect your personality?

JW: I’m not trying to get out of answering this one but my creations are so personal and are referential to my life, travels and journey that they are all reflective of my personality already. Everything I create is so personal it has me all over it (and in it!)

GG: What’s your favourite men’s fragrance and why?

JW: The original Comme des Garcons fragrance because it is so intense and so unique and reminds me of when I was a struggling student. If I’m not wrong, I spent half my grant at the Comme des Garcons store without a care for what I might eat at the end of term!

GG: Candle making is a dangerous business. Any tips for dealing with wax burns? lol

JW: I embrace them! After all, I’ve always said I hate vanilla……

For more information go to  www.jonathanwardlondon.com Check out the Jonathan Ward Facebook page here and follow him on Twitter @J_W_London

Cire Trudon – a must-visit destination for fragrance lovers

I’ve never been a fan of destination shopping. Good exercise it may be but schlepping halfway around town to one shop and then having to hoof it three miles to the next isn’t my idea of retail heaven. But some shops are worth the extra walk and the new Cire Trudon boutique, hidden away on up-and-coming Chiltern Street in Marylebone, is certainly one of them. It may have only been open a matter of weeks but the boutique, selling some of the best scented candles in the world, has already been visited by the likes of Kylie Minogue.

Cire Trudon itself has been around since 1643, making it the oldest candle maker in the world, so you can safely say it’s doing something very right. For me, their longevity probably has something to do with the fact that the scented candles burn beautifully and every one of them has an enchanting story behind it.

The brief for Roi Soleil, for example, had its creator nose-to-the-vast-wooden-floor in Versailles attempting to capture the smell of  the famous Mirrored Gallery. To be honest, it’s worth visiting the shop just to have a smell of Odeur de Lune, based on the smell of, you guessed it, the moon. Not some romanticised idea of the moon, though, but the actual way the moon might smell, based on Nasa reports and its mineral compostion. It’s truly extraordinary (and delightfully bonkers) although in fairness its pungent metal-meets-burnt-tyres aroma won’t be to everyone’s taste. The fact that it exists at all is still rather fabulous in my book.

My own personal favourite, though, is Empire – a great candle for men who want their homes to smell good but not like the Tuileries Garden. A warm, smoky and herby fragrance it has notes of pine, sage, thyme and rosemary along with laurel, juniper and grassy hay. Cire Trudon themselves succinctly describe it as the scent of ‘burning bushes’ – bringing it right back down to earth but making it no less magical.

Cire Trudon can be found at 36 Chiltern Street, London W1U 7QL. Tel 0207 486 7590