Everybody Gets A Candle: 7 Covetable Takes on The Perfect Gift

Because we’ve never met a candle we didn’t light…

Too cool for candles? Tell me whooo. Candles are luminous earthly ornaments, candles are storybook romances about scents worth setting on fire, candles are the best we’ll ever look. Please, tell me who hasn’t reached for a just-gifted vessel being passed around a captivated crowd taking turns huffing its fragrance? I just reached for a candle I just gifted on Thursday. He loved it. And that’s the whole point! Unlike a bottle of wine for the hostess that doesn’t appreciate alcohol or an ornament for the tree that was never cut down in the first place, these little beacons will have a place. They’re total luxuries that, unfortunately, must be replaced — which generates a perpetual need…

“I appreciate the fact that candles have their own lifespan, they are useful and won’t end up in a landfill,” says Wendy Polish, co-founder of LE FEU DE L’EAU, whose handmade Artisanal candles have garnered a following from celebs like Lena Dunham, Gigi Hadid and Demi Moore. “What’s better than giving someone light?” Polish asks as we discuss gifting her creations. “Candles are the perfect gift — they have the ability to transform one’s space with light and aromatherapy…that’s pretty special!” Pete Panciera, co-founder of Norden, the ceramics-focused line heavily influenced by Scandinavian design (his wife and co-founder Erika is Swedish), adds to the importance of keeping aromatherapy in the mix. “Our olfactory sense as humans is tied to our memory, so giving a candle to someone can be incredibly personal,” Panciera explains. “You can gift someone a fragrance that reminds you of a shared experience, or giving the gift of fragrance can create future memories tied to the smell of the candle itself.” Candles are moments in time!

Below, seven lines worth remembering, and the personalities that are sure to welcome them:

Retablo: for The Starry-Eyed Dreamer

Inspired by her Texas ranching roots and a love for Mexican-American culture, Harper Smith-Duddy began pouring candles as a method of meditation just two years ago when her husband went on tour with his country band. She soon decided to turn her therapeutic routine into Retablo, a line of soy wax creations that each encapsulate a brass milagro. “The Milagro (seen as a healing folk-charm or lucky charm in Latin culture) embedded into all of our candles is very emotional to me, and has been a symbol in many of the triumphs my family and friends have overcome,” she shares of its intention. “I decided to launch the collection specifically with a gold charm inside a black votive as a metaphor for light and hope in darkness, for moving forward and picking yourself up — ‘light the fire’.”

By Rosie Jane: for The Laid-Back Home Body

With years in the beauty business under her belt, Rosie Jane Johnston created her eponymous label by a stroke of luck after wearing a fragrance she hand-mixed for herself nearly a decade ago. “It was a bit of an accident,” admits Johnston, whose friend was so impressed by the aroma that she suggested selling it in her store. Now infused into slow-burning soy candles, Johnston’s scents are a hit in the homes of celebs like Jennifer Aniston, who prefers Leila Lou (the original fragrance), and John Mayer, who’s partial to James, a light, warm scent that Johnston describes as “great for guys.” The line’s minimal glass vessels are part of Johnston’s effort to deliver a completely recyclable product. “Simplicity and the environment are my inspirations for all the packaging. I love blank, open space.”

LE FEU DE L’EAU: for The Meticulous Artist

“I was amazed when the wax would hit the water, it would spiral, fan out, and make the most incredible shapes,” remembers Wendy Polish of the unique technique for creating candles that her dad invented and she spent her childhood observing. “After studying at the Art Center College of Design, I was inspired to revisit this organic and energetic work, and worked with my father to refine the candle-making process,” says Polish, who teamed up with makeup artist and longtime friend Jo Strettell to launch LE FEU DE L’EAU, its hand-sculpted creations celebrating color and paying homage to fine art. “The candle packaging was directly inspired by Josef Albers color studies,” notes Polish of the team’s visually driven process. “We are inspired by color, and create scents to compliment.”

Mexico, 1531: for The Spiritual Storyteller

The star (and only) product of Marlene Stang’s label Fiat Lux, this American-made coconut wax concoction is a result of her “passion for telling stories through scent.” Motivated by the apparition of Our Lady of Gaudalupe to native Mexican Juan Diego in December of 1531, everything from the dark blue ink “inspired by the heavens” printed on the paper canister to the shimmering gold painted onto the glass “to evoke twinkling stars” are part of Stang’s vision. “I wanted to create an olfactory snapshot of Mt. Tepeyac, its soil, and the mysteriously blooming rose bush that Juan Diego found growing,” she says of its meaning and fragrance direction.  “I love the contrasting elements in the scent — the soil note is fresh, a little green and bracing, while the rose note is enveloping and warm — it’s great to burn at the end of the day or whenever you want to feel grounded and calm. It’s earthy!”

Norden: for The Nostalgic Explorer

“Each of our fragrances is based off of places that Erika and I travel together,” says Pete Panciera of the candle line that he and his wife founded a few years ago with his background in graphic design and their shared love of ceramics in mind. “We try to collect ceramic pieces everywhere we go — pouring our candles into handmade vessels seemed like the perfect fit,” explains Panciera of the handthrown packaging that can be washed and repurposed long after the scent burns away. Their blended essential oil scents like Idyllwild, meant to smell like sagebrush in the high desert, are snapshots of wandering trips through nature. Big Sur, which incorporates birch tar for a smoky note, sparks its own scene for Panciera. “It reminds me of wandering around in the cold and rain with wood smoke from cabins wafting in the air.”

Darling Clementine: for The Design-Minded Naturalist

“We wanted to keep it simple yet sophisticated,” says Darling Clementine’s designer and partner Tonje Holand of the brand’s line of luminaries wrapped in misty colors mixed with candy-bright hues, their matte surfaces contrasting with a gleaming inner glaze. After perfecting the vessels’ shapes, influenced by the Art Deco and Bauhaus era, Holand linked the scents to Nordic botanicals. “The nature is so overwhelmingly beautiful in Norway, and we take a lot of inspiration from it; the seaside, the woodland, and the mountains with its fjords,” Holand explains. “The pine, gooseberry and juniper — they are all contrasting in being sweet, woody and spicy.”

ROAM: for The City Slicker

Launched by 42 Pressed in July of 2015, the ROAM collection was designed as a way to “remember the places you visited,” according to founder Jackie Robinson. With hand-drawn patterns lifted from map prints incorporated into the packaging, each fragrance is a combination of the city’s elements, like moss and wet stone for Chicago, or mineral and patchouli for New York. “We carefully pulled scent notes that correspond to the smells you might experience in each city,” says Robinson of the process. “I think each candle has the power to bring you back to that place you visited.”

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