AS SOMEONE WHOSE primary personal obsessions are scents (both home fragrances and scents for the body) and grooming products, it should surprise absolutely no one that I am a longtime devotee of Le Labo. In fact, I’ve been worshipping at the church of Le Labo since the high-end fragrance purveyors first set up shop on Elizabeth Street in New York City nearly two decades ago, a time in which it seemed almost impossible to take a rush-hour subway ride or set foot inside a swanky bar or restaurant without catching a whiff of the brand’s ubiquitously beloved Santal 33. The brand’s stores feel like true apothecaries, where you can actually watch your chosen fragrance being hand-mixed and bottled. And the exquisite attention to detail, with personalized labels and trained sommelier to help match you with your most emotionally fulfilling smell, make the price point worth it.
Given the remarkable intensity of Le Labo’s fragrances, it’s not surprising that their hand-poured candles would pack an equally evocative olfactory punch. For the uninitiated, the brand’s new collaboration with the Metropolitan Museum of Art is a great place to start. The candle itself, Laurier 62, is inspired in part by Henri-Edmond Cross’ unfinished work “Underneath the Cork Oaks” — a painting that, much like the fragrance, is both subtle and intriguing, and said to reveal itself slowly over time. Created with notes of laurel, rosemary, eucalyptus, thyme, and cumin (and boasting no less than 62 ingredients total), the scent is romantic, warm, and purposefully complicated — a perfect entry point for anyone unfamiliar with the brand or their deliciously intense smells. (It’s also simply a must-have for a Le Labo groupie like myself.) It’s worth noting that the candles are impeccably designed in an elegant glass vessel, have an incredibly long burn life, and offer a powerful, room-filling throw. Available via Le Labo’s brick-and-mortar locations and via the Met Museum’s gift shop and website, this exquisite luminary is the perfect vibe shifter, capable of making any space feel instantly rarefied, and evidence that the alchemy of fragrance creation is very much its own kind of art.
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T. Cole Rachel Writer
T. Cole Rachel is the deputy editor of Departures. A Brooklyn-based writer, editor, and teacher with over 20 years of experience working in print and digital media, his writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Interview, and the Creative Independent.
Ahonen & Lamberg Illustrator
Ahonen & Lamberg is a multidisciplinary design studio based in Paris. Founded in 2006 by Finnish designers Anna Ahonen and Katariina Lamberg, the studio concentrates on art direction, creative consultancy, and graphic design.