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In the realm of (very) non-essential essentials, there are few things we love more than a choose-your-own-adventure beauty quiz—but fancy candles absolutely take the throne. So in the spirit of winter hibernation—a time for indulging our every whim, no?—it only felt right to bring these two vices together.
The result: an ode to some of our favorite style icons and the scents we feel embody their spirit. What candle can you imagine a ‘60s-era Joni Mitchell burning in her Laurel Canyon home? How about the preferred votive of a bike short-clad Princess Diana? In an effort to make this as scientific as possible, we did our homework on the preferred fragrances of each of these lady legends—and of course, sniffed a lot of candles to ensure we captured “the vibe.” (It’s called research, okay?)
So without further ado: From Jane Birkin to Carolyn Bessette, Selena to Sade, find your style icon’s candle counterpart below.
It’s the fragrance of unapologetic ‘70s opulence—of long, sleek hair, wide-brimmed hats, gold beads and impossibly long lashes. “I am a rich man,” she famously said—and this beloved smoky-sweet combo from Tom Ford is the height of luxury. (For the record, Cher is also a huge fan of vanilla notes.)
Read: classic and sophisticated with a slightly sporty twist. It felt particularly of the moment to capture Princess Di in her iconic bike shorts and sweatshirt combo; the outfit that has arguably reigned as the standard bearer for athleisure in 2019.
The Princess of Wales had a love of white florals—she wore Houbigant’s Quelques Fleurs, a heady cocktail of jasmine, lily of the valley, tuberose, bergamot, and musk on her wedding day. This luxurious candle from Acqua di Parma is a relaxed echo of that fragrance: With notes of bergamot, lily of the valley, amber, musk, and aquatics, it’s the portrait of an Italian lakeside garden.
Smooth operator, indeed. Take it from us: The essence of that creamy, sultry voice might just be this expensive-smelling combo of suede, warm saffron, and pink peppercorn. Turn up the music, grab a glass of earthy red and hit the lights.
What’s the scent of pure sunshine? It might just be this offering from P.F. Candle Co, which boasts a ‘70s-inspired combo of dry grasses, bergamot, and poppy. It’s the dusty-golden essence of a summer evening in LA—just add a pair of Nike Cortez sneaks and a megawatt smile.
Fans of the late icon know that her signature scent was white rose—making this rose trifecta scent from Le Feu de L’Eau a covetable option. (And the red hue is kind of the perfect nod to Selena’s go-to lip, no?)
Challenge: encapsulate a 60-year career that forged the way for Motown, disco, and music at large into one neatly packaged home fragrance. An insurmountable task, to be sure—but our strategy? Capture the timeless, infectious joy Ross has carried with her through the decades. Touting itself as “the happiest fragrance,” this candle from Overose is a worthy contender: With juicy notes of cherry, nectarine, caramel and citrus, it’s sparkly, vivacious, and downright irresistible.
What’s the scent equivalent of the bias-cut Narciso Rodriguez dress Bessette wore on her wedding day? It might just be this musky-linen scent from Maison Martin Margiela: the smell of clean, crisp sheets and bare skin.
It felt like a bit of a cop-out to simply go with J.Lo’s candle of choice, Le Labo’s Santal 26 ($75)—as delightful of a scent as it might be. Instead, we opted to hunt down for a candle version of Jennifer Lopez Glow, arguably the mother of all celebrity fragrances: A musky blend of citrus, iris, vanilla, and jasmine, it’s the kind of perfume meant to be worn as a second skin.
And you might say the same for this home scent from Lumira, which boasts a creamy mixture of sandalwood, bergamot, and ylang-ylang. It’s the essence of a tropical vacation: Intoxicating in a relaxed kind of way.
An interesting caveat: the ‘70s icon isn’t a fan of perfume, as a rule—instead, she prefers scents that double as memories. (“My favourite smells are [her brother] Andrew's smell, bookcases, Turkish spice markets… Too much musk and too much ambergris,” she told Vogue UK in 2016.)
So it only felt right to pay homage with a scent that evoked a bygone era. But even if it carries an undertone of nostalgia, there’s something about this cocktail of cognac, rum, wood and smoke that feels positively timeless—just like Birkin.
What fragrance exists at the intersection of earthy and eternally cool? It might just be this woodsy blend of guaiac, jasmine, cardamom, and moss—like cozying up to a fire after getting caught in the rain.
Mornings spent in her favorite New York coffee shop; notes scrawled on train rides through Europe as she visits the hometowns of her artistic heroes. There’s an intimacy to the way the poet-musician details her creative process in her books—we can imagine we’re sitting right next to her, coffee in hand.
And this happens to be the way Brooklyn fragrance house D.S. & Durga composes its scents—as atmospheric memories. This ode to an 18th century coffee shop is no exception, with notes of pastry, tobacco, leather, coffee, and a smoky fireplace.
Years before the Riot Grrrl movement began to rock counterculture, Debbie Harry subverted her own femininity as a tool for rebellion: The moniker “Blondie” was derived from catcalls she fielded from truck drivers on the regular. So it would only make sense that a Blondie-inspired scent feel warm and inviting, with a dangerous streak.
For us, Byredo’s Safran ticks those boxes: The softness of saffron, vanilla, and violet draws you in, but there’s a spicy-musk undercurrent of black pepper and labdanum that feels just the right amount of unexpected.
Full disclosure: The masterminds behind cult New York brand Catbird crafted this scent as a love letter to Brooklyn. But there’s something about this earthy delight—a fresh bouquet of fig, cedar, and dandelion—that feels very “Lady of the Canyon:” It’s green, earnest, and lovely, much like that unforgettable soprano voice.