Candles that are for enjoying classical music or are shaped by rushing water. Fragrances that encourage guests to linger or scents designed as tributes to the men in our lives. New L.A.-based entrants in the field of home fragrances are differentiating themselves through distinctive inspirations.
The idea for Kathleen Laccinole's line came about while she was in traffic, listening to Bach.
"Suddenly, I was in the French countryside," said Laccinole, a classical pianist. "I realized that composing music and composing scents are identical. It's a collection of notes and chords."
The result is Pavane, three scents named after the Renaissance dance, each designed to be enjoyed while listening to a particular piece of classical music, or they can be layered for a "symphonic experience."
Pavane No. 1 (the top note) smells of sweet lychee, fig, orange blossom and fresh-cut grass as inspired by Gabriel Faure's Pavane in F-sharp minor, Op. 50. Pavane No. 2 (the floral middle note) is made up of waterlily, Moroccan red rose and stargazer lily inspired by Felix Mendelssohn's Wedding March from "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and Pavane No. 3 (the full-bodied bass note) is redolent of tobacco, cedar, sandalwood and clove, inspired by Maurice Ravel's "Pavane pour une infante défunte."
"You can listen to the music, burn the candle and it's very surreal how it all works," she said. "You really feel as if what you are smelling is what you are listening to."
$50 each, $100 for a set of three; www.gwendolyn-mary.com; Montage Boutique Spa, Manhattan Beach
Robin McGraw Revelation
For her debut home fragrance line, Robin McGraw settled on masculine-inspired scents honoring — and named for — the men in her life: husband Phillip (TV personality Dr. Phil), sons Jay and Jordan, and 3-year-old grandson London. A houndstooth label augments the masculine theme. Scents range from the spicy cardamom and jasmine of the Phillip, recalling the night jasmine blooms outside the couple's home, to the fenugreek and vanilla inspired by Jay's love of sunny beach days. Vetiver and cedar add a clean, woodsy vibe to the Jordan, while the London's grapefruit and mellow amber are clean and youthful. McGraw said she envisioned the candles adding ambience to studies, home offices and dorm rooms — for both sexes.
"I want women to enjoy them too," said McGraw of the candles, which launch in early October.
Entire proceeds from the sale of the candles will benefit When Georgia Smiled, a foundation to support domestic violence prevention.
$49.95 for a set of four (they will also be sold separately); robingmcgrawrevelation.com
Le Feu de L'Eau
Decades ago, the father of graphic designer and illustrator Wendy Polish was making sand candles on Venice beach when wax fell into a pool, organically shaping it.
Years later, Polish remembered her father's impromptu experiment and teamed with makeup artist Jo Strettell to launch a line of candles sculpted without a mold under rushing water in a tank in their L.A.-area studio. The candles are colored using tiny wires attached to a jug of hand-mixed ink and scented with fragrances that recall the colors. No two candles are identical.
"Some are chunkier, some are wavier. It depends on the heat of the water and so many other factors," said Strettell. The latest, which will be introduced in early September, is Vert, scented with fig leaf.
"It's green, grassy and twiggy," said Strettell. "The sweetness of the fruit is buried in there."
$62; www.lefeudeleau.com; Lost and Found in Hollywood and Santa Monica
4D by Daniella
Singer-songwriter Daniella Pavicic says the quickest way to clear a frazzled mind is to light a scented candle.
"We all have such crazy lives that just noticing the smell of a room can bring you into the present," she said.
Pavicic teamed with beauty industry veteran Robin Coe-Hutshing, who also founded Burn Candles, to create 4D, which combines Pavicic's most beloved scents: cucumber, sandalwood, bitter chocolate and almond blossom. They were selected "to represent all the different dimensions of a personality.
"We spent months researching the composition so the focus is on the fragrance," said Pavicic. "We wanted this to definitely have presence, to provide ambience and fill up the room."
$48; shop.daniellaparfums.com/collection; C'est Tout in Brentwood