Please don’t call them Mandles…

Trying to dissect the slightly baffling world of scented candles

Article by Nicolas Payne-Baader

The idea of masculinity, at least in fashion and grooming, has by this point come to settle in an interesting place, men now moisturise their faces, often everyday (!), can wear skinny jeans with reckless abandon, put product their hair which isn’t brill cream, and sometimes even get a manicure. These things might be trappings of the metropolitan elite but it seems that if men want to watch “Bring it on” with their mates or pluck their eyebrows then they can – without shame. Now one may have zero desire to do any of those things but as the hackneyed term metrosexual steadily abates men have been left with a new dawn, one altogether less afraid of the feminine and less shackled by ideals of masculinity.

One corner where this renaissance of choice may have struggled to reach, despite the shaft of light falling ever closer, is that bastion of self-indulgence: the scented candle. Somehow the idea that men should enjoy nice smells seems excessive to most people; that in the great collective male psyche one’s house should smell slightly sweaty, slightly like a locker room rather than of bergamot or patchouli, slightly like you’ve just sprayed your territory. It has certainly become permissible to own a scented candle – which may or may not ever get lit – but buying one for yourself is still the sort of thing you’d probably prefer to come in an unmarked box and left outside the door in the dead of night.

However, people seem slowly to be coming round to the idea and realising the absurdity in judging someone for owning a candle and the market has slowly followed suit; over the last couple years the whole market for “masculine” scents has expanded hugely. Whereas a few years ago you would have had to search high and low for a candle on the market that would make your flat smell like leather bound books and rich mahogany now options abound.

On example of this brave new and liberated world is perfumer Tom Daxon, the scion of the Creative Director of Molten Brown and excellent perfumer in his own right. Having started his eponymous perfume line at the tender age of 26 Tom has gone on to produce beautiful scents as well as candles. His Under Milk Wood candle is a special favourite, cased in an understated, chiselled blue pot the scent is beautifully subtle and strangely comforting.

Another example of something almost entirely different but equally as intriguing is (perennial favourite) Haeckles’ candle GPS 21 ’30”E or Petrichoria as it is also known. The candle unflinchingly recreates the smell of Petrichor: the smell of rain on dirt or pavement after a long warm smell. The result is surprisingly refreshing, perhaps more of a living room that a bedroom scent but an impressive feat of olfactory originality from the boys from Margate.

Last but not least is Laboratory Perfumes’ Amber Candle. A company that describes itself as “a new method of making perfume the old fashioned way” they are fortunately far better at creating scents than mottos and the Amber candle is no exception. Packaged in what looks very much like a school science beaker the scent is a warm and complex take on a traditionally masculine woody scent – certainly worth a sniff. riddle_stop 2


All candles available from and at Beast, 19 Earlham Street, Covent Garden, London WC2H 9LL

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