Launch of celebrity candles lights up – and cashes in – on lockdown gloom

Priya Elan
·2-min read
<span>Photograph: Jonathan Short/Invision/AP</span>
Photograph: Jonathan Short/Invision/AP

Forget the It bag, the latest must have is the It candle. Gwyneth Paltrow began this year by selling out of a candle simply called This Smells Like My Vagina on Goop. In September, Alicia Keys launched her skincare brand, Keys Soulcare, and its first product was a sage and oatmilk candle. And last month Anthony Hopkins launched a fragrance collection that included candles in Amber Noir, Gardenia Tuberose and Sandalwood (but not, sadly, chianti).

Now it is the turn of the rapper Drake, who cryptically announced the launch of his candle range, Better World Fragrance House, on Instagram Stories with a picture of four blue candles with names such as Sweeter Tings and Williamsburg Sleepover.

The celebrity pivot towards candles highlights the boom in the market since the beginning of the pandemic. Candles, previously looked on as a luxury, have become a lifestyle staple, with sales increasing 182% from last year, according to John Lewis.

Hayley Chaytor, of Silentnight , which sells scented candles and diffusers, said: “With less opportunity to spend on experience outside of the home, consumers are making investments into their own comfort and happiness at home. We have noticed a trend in sales for people purchasing cocooning products and understandably products to help them feel good and hunker down at home.”

Although candles are booming on the high street, they are also expanding their reach into the cool, hipster marketplace. In October Ikea teamed up with the minimalist Swedish brand Byredo to produce Osynlig, a much-coveted 13-candle collection that quickly sold out.

Boy Smells, a gender-neutral, Los Angeles-based company that has recently launched in the UK, is indicative of this new era. Homemade and hand-poured into a reusable glass vessel, the candles are packaged in tasteful pink. Celebrity fans range from Gigi Hadid to the Kardashians and the designer Raf Simons. Sales have increased 1,500% over lockdown.

Alicia Keys
Alicia Keys’ first product in her new skincare brand was ... a candle. Photograph: Kevin Winter/Getty

“Something as simple as a candle scent has the potential to reflect the complexity of identity,” the co-founder Matthew Herman told Forbes last month. “We didn’t see that celebrated in the fragrance industry, so we created Boy Smell to fill it.”

The more time we spend at home, the more our homes represent. They are no longer just living areas; they are our offices, gyms, spas, cinemas and restaurants. Candles, and their associated smells, help redefine these spaces. “While candles do help to set both the mood and tone of your living space, they also speak to the personality of the room,” says Bessie Hitcham, an assistant buyer at Cult Beauty. “They are a display of personal identity and taste.”