Now that it’s getting dark around 4 p.m., we’re all looking for ways to brighten up our days—and our moods. Maybe escaping the cold for the tropics isn’t in the cards this year. But, you can probably afford to burn $25 for a simple luxury like a high-end candle. And, you’ll have plenty to choose from because the luxe candle market’s on fire. French brands like Diptyque have a cult-like following and celebrities like Elton John and Tory Burch have launched their own candle lines. Here’s a roundup of the best and the brightest.
Manuel Canovas: Fans of this iconic French fabric line will enjoy what’s become the Rolls Royce of the candle world. Experience “la vie en rose” with one of the floral scents like Fleur de Coton. $23 for a 1.2 oz. travel size at Oui Madame, 550 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka, 847-441-0182
Sir Elton John Collection by Nest: It’s probably no surprise that the “Candle in the Wind” songwriter would design his own line of luxury scents. The perfect complement to a fireside chat? The exotic spices in Sir Elton’s Fireside candle, part of the Nest fragrance line. A portion of the proceeds from sales benefit the Elton John AIDS Foundation. $38, 8.1 oz., 50 hours burn time at Neiman Marcus, Northbrook Court, 847-564-0300
Colette: Chicagoan Colette Gleeson remembers her mother always burning a candle in her home. Having grown up in the ‘60s, Gleeson still has a fondness for hippie-chic. Her handmade, hand-poured candles have names like Peace and Mod Lavender. The packaging is traditional though. Her sweet scents arrive in gift-worthy hatbox-like containers, topped with a satin bow. $26, 60 hours burn time, East Bank Club gift shop, 500 N. Kingsbury St., Chicago, 312-527-5800, or at Colette’s website
Alassis: Handmade in Maryland, these elegant candles come in beautiful hand-blown art glass jars in a variety of colors that are intended to be reused after the candle’s burned away. $40, 13.2 oz., 40 hours burn time, Bloomingdales Medinah Home, 600 N. Wabash Ave., Chicago, 312-324-7500 or Alassis’ website
Diptyque: This Parisian perfumer is one of the most popular high-end candle makers. Lucky for us, the only Diptyque store in the Midwest is right here in Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood. Opened two years ago, the shop carries more than 20 different scents. $60, 6.5 oz., Diptyque, 1645 N. Damen Ave., Chicago, 773-252-3989
Reisen: Candle makers like to say their scents transport you from a frantic pace to a calmer place. Maybe that’s why Garett Huber named his candle line Reisen, which is German for “the journey.” Launched in 2014, Reisen offers both the Blue Ridge Parkway and Emerald Coast collections (named after the northwest Florida area where Reisen is based). An American Desert collection is coming soon. Reisen candles come with a wick trimmer and box of quality matches. $39, 10.5 oz., 60 hours burn time, Reisen’s website
Tory Burch: Be the gracious guest by bringing this terrific token of thanks for your host. You can’t go wrong with a custom candle from designer Tory Burch, a chic addition to the home or office. $60, 11 oz., 55 hours burn time, Nordstrom, Old Orchard, 847-677-2121
Ethan Allen: Winter is when candles really shine. Colder months bring us back indoors, looking for ways to get cozy. Just in time, this high-end furniture maker started a candle line. Now you can snuggle up on the couch and infuse your space with the scent of a hearth, even if there’s no fireplace. With aromas of clove and other spices, the Hearthwood scent is heaven sent. $65, Ethan Allen, 10001 Skokie Blvd., Skokie, 847-675-5600
Tatine: Chicagoan Margo Breznik says she likes to celebrate the sublime in the everyday. Since 2001, she’s been helping others do just that with high-end candles made in her studio, located just outside of Wicker Park. Her scents are rooted in nature, with names like Creeping Moss, Forest Floor and Norwegian Wood. $38, 8oz., Bloom 3, 1503 Chicago Ave., Evanston, 847-424-0003
Gwendolyn-Mary: For classical pianist Kathleen Laccinole, the inspiration to marry fragrance and music came while sitting in LA traffic. “I was listening to a Bach Concerto. Suddenly, it was as if I wasn’t in traffic anymore,” Laccinole says. “That’s when it hit me that this Pavlovian response, which also occurs with scent, could be amplified by combining both.” That’s why her candles come with a music suggestion. Laccinole recommends pairing notes of orange blossom and fig with the notes of Gabriel Faure’s Pavane in F-sharp minor. Bravo if it helps me escape to my happy place after rush hour on the Kennedy! $50, 10 oz.