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Scent and taste have the power to trigger memories long forgotten. Far more so than our sense of sight or hearing might do. Marcel Proust knew this to be true when he wrote ” Remembrance of Things Past”, in which he explains this phenomenon after he recalls how the taste of a little crumb of a madeleine suddenly raised a whole succesion of memories to his mind:
” But when from a long-distant past nothing subsists, after the people are dead, after the things are broken and scattered, still, alone, more fragile, but with more vitality, more unsubstantial, more persistent, more faithful, the smell and taste of things remain poised a long time, like souls, ready to remind us, waiting and hoping for their moment, amid the ruins of all the rest; and bear unfaltering, in the tiny and almost impalpable drop of their essence, the vast structure of recollection.”
This was pretty much what happened to me when I first lifted the black iron lid of the Terre Noire candle and took a whiff. I was blasted with an earthy dark scent that reminded me of summers in Spain at my Grandfather’s house: dark woods, thick and salty air, waxed floors and the presence of a heavily perfumed opera singing gentleman. After this first scent I was dying to try the others, and while they were all more than pleasing none did for me what the first one did. Perhaps it had to do with the element of surprise, I wasn’t expecting anything from “just another scented candle”. That’s where Mad et Len are different. A lot of scented candles arise as part of an existing scent at a perfume house. But at Mad et Len the candles themselves are the foremost focus. From the vegetable soy wax they are poured from to the metal canisters they are packed in, the whole process is completely artisanal.
The two people behind the scent experience are Sandra Fuzier and Alexandre Piffaut, who started Mad et Len in 2007, when they decided to move to the village of St. Julien de Verdon. Which is near Grasse, in the southern part of France, where the traditional perfumery craft is kept alive. They source all of their essential oils themselves, using woods, flowers and spices which are all aged naturally. Some take up to two years to reach olfactory perfection. This accounts for why they only produce limited batches of The wax and oils are hand poured into their metal packaging, which is of course also completely hand made. The packaging itself is impressive, as the candles come in three sizes: The Bougie d’Apothicaire candles which weigh 300 grams, the Bougie Vestimentale are 380 grams, and the Bougie Fumiste are an impressive 3.5 kilograms -for those who like their candles on a sculptural level. And these heavyweights are pleasing to the eye too, the packaging is simple but striking. Even their potpourri is not your usual mix of petals and dry twigs but a pot of massive lava rocks, which each come with their own oil refill.
Mad et Len hence fills up the niche for high-end scented homeware with their fine handcrafted pieces. The fact that everything is part of such an extensive proces -from the distilling of the oils to the forging of the packaging- creates a range of products in which this aspect of time and their hands-on approach is still tangible.
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Words by Sara Martín Mazorra