When you Can’t afford Tom Ford: A note on Candles

Let me ruminate. You’ve probably clicked on this page with a mildly furrowed brow, five minutes of extra time, and a vague blend of curiosity muddled with an abstract (but strong!) extract of disgust.

“Candles? Madison…of all the things in the world to write about, candles?!

I understand your sentiment. I do, but listen.

A properly, or accurately, rather, scented room can make you feel as luxurious and as seductive as any expensive fragrance; like a well-tailored silk neglige for people much too young and poor to own such delicacies (too young I am not, but the poor thing rings a bell).


This past week found me stumbling around Holt Renfrew with my best friend Hannah, who I have briefly described as my mind-reading european friend (the one who got me out of a sports bra and into Agent Provocateur lace sets, I KID YOU NOT). We blended an array of $245 Tom Ford perfumes onto our forearms with absolutely no intention of buying them because, well, two hundred and forty-five dollars buys my groceries for two months, and it would break my heart if I left Addie hanging on our weekly Kombucha binge.

I left the boutique completely inspired by the perfectionistic curatorial ability that exists in Tom Ford’s nose, but also a little sad. Why can’t I smell like that, right this second, without the crippling debt or eternal pang of having to tell my grandparents I spent my “education money” on a perfume that probably cost as much as my grandfathers first car?

My solution? Candles. Room Spray. The Men’s fragrance department.

Madison by Baldovino Barani

In my kitchen, I have a collection of green foliage, plucked from various holiday-themed events and trips to the St. Lawrence market — a mini evergreen here, a triangular lavender bush there, plus a surprisingly vicious cactus I tried to kill on purpose but, surprisingly, didn’t end up dying so I kept as an homage to tenacity. Scattered around these plants I’ve curated a few special candles; ByRedo’s Bibliotheque offering, Dyptique’s Feu de Bois, and a gorgeous Voluspa mini-object in Saijo Persimmon that was gifted to me by my dear friend, Jane Bradshaw. Beside these I have a giant block of salt with a hole in the top that fits beeswax tea lights swimmingly, so I light them up when my cousin Lauren comes over because, to quote her, “the smell of beeswax is as addictive as crack.” (As an aside, this objectively bizarre curation of scents is a total snapshot of my personality. I’m all, and I mean all over the place, but somehow the package works and I’m keeping it this way).

When you burn all of these simultaneously, the effect is sort of what I’d imagine it would smell like if a cigar room were infiltrated by Californian actresses in the mid-60s who then started a campfire in the backyard with the windows open.


Goodness gracious, I need to watch more reality television.

The scent of these candles will be sure to burrow themselves in the threads of your boyfriend sweaters, cable knits and second-day topknots. If you want something more durable, however, a fragrance I recently bought myself is actually a men’s cologne, but smells so deliciously devourable that you’ll want to be draped in it forever, even before bed. Viktor & Rolf’s Spicebomb is a perfect “waiting for Tom Ford” aperitif, and they even offer a smaller size for 48 dollars, because who manages to finish a full-sized perfume bottle anyway, right?


And, as a “thanks for reading this” loot bag, a friendly reminder to check out if your favourite perfume is available as a room spray. Because, chances are that it is. And, chances are that it’s cheaper.

In love and smelling like the goddess you are,
Madison (M/O/M)

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