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Candles & Fragrances | Paris
ESTABLISHED IN 1643, CIRE TRUDON BOASTS A RICH AND ILLUSTRIOUS HISTORY AS ONE OF THE MOST PRESTIGIOUS CANDLEMAKERS IN THE WORLD. WE CATCH UP WITH CIRE TRUDON'S GENERAL MANAGER, JULIEN PROVOST, TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT WHAT MAKES THEIR EXQUISITE COLLECTIONS SO SPECIAL.
What is the history of Cire Trudon and when was the company established?
JP: Our company dates back to the 17th century, to 1643 to be exact. At that time, it was known as the royal wax manufacture. The Trudons were officially the owners of the royal wax manufactory that created candles for Louis XIV, Louis XV, Louis XVI and later to Napoleon. Based upon the Trudon’s family experience, they perfected the art to such an extent that an entire section of the Encyclopedia of Arts and Sciences - specifically, the section about candle manufacturing - is based entirely upon the expertise of the Trudon family. Back then, the motto of the company was "Deo Regique Laborant," meaning to work for God and the King. They were making the best possible candles for the highest spheres of society. Candles were made with one hundred percent beeswax which was the specialty of the Trudon family and the royal wax manufacture. They burn in a specific way and were beautiful candles. The manufacturing process was very elaborate. Nowadays, we no longer produce these types of candles, although there are similar products within our collection.
What is the philosophy of Cire Trudon? What do you feel differentiates the brand and makes it so special and unique?
JP: I think the essence of Cire Trudon today is based upon its fantastic heritage as the royal candle manufacturer. Cire Trudon has continued to produce candles over several centuries - despite the arrival of electricity and gas - and has evolved the creation of candles to the present day. In addition to the brand’s history and know-how, a third element of the brand’s success has been its perfumes. We base ourselves upon a solid and authentic history which feeds our present creativity.
Can you tell us more about your product range?
JP: One of our most emblematic products is the scented candle. For many centuries, candles were essentially meant to decorate and illuminate spaces. The higher you were in the social sphere, the more access you had to lights. Today, candles are fairly accessible products which could be described as an affordable luxury. We try to tell a story through the scents that we create. We also have many non-scented candles suitable for various occasions. Whether it's for a particular ceremony, whether it's for decoration, or to add light to your dining table. You may also find some of our fragrances in the form of room sprays, for example. They all answer different functions and purposes, but our main products remain candles, of course.
What is your creative process when developing your candle collections?
JP: The creation of our candle products, the formulas, the testing and all of our candle production takes place in France within our factory in Normandy. It's only the production of our glass candle jars which takes place in Italy, which is known for its glass manufacturers. It's centrifuge glass, meaning that an artisan pours a large drop of glass into a mould which is open from the top. Then the mould then spins at a high speed and pushes the melted glass to the sides with centrifugal force. Once the operator removes the glass from the mould, he then corrects it using a blowtorch to ensure that every aspect of the jar is perfect. Since the mould is open, the quantity of melted glass that is poured into the mould each time slightly varies. The upper part of the jar is different from one jar to another, so you can literally say that each jar is unique because of the fact that we use a centrifuge technique. Then the jars are cooked again, then inspected, and then they're packed. It's an elaborate process that obliges the glass manufacturer to produce each glass one by one, by hand. It's a very interesting process and we're really proud of it. Since the beginning, it’s been an ongoing partnership with the same company. The glass is a very strong component of our brand identity. It was designed specifically for Cire Trudon a number of years ago. The emblem represented on the front of the candle is an interpretation of a sculpture that you can find on the front of a building in the town of Antony, south of Paris, on the grounds of what used to be the royal candle manufacturer. We've also added the emblem of Louis XIV as he was our first main royal patron. The label is also an interesting aspect of the product. We work with a champagne label manufacturer which is often the case in France. If you look at it closely, it has that thickness and it is clearly a high-quality label and we're very proud of it. We like the fact that you can actually remove the label in order to reuse the glass afterwards if that was the desire of the customer.
What are some of the brand’s most emblematic creations?
JP: The main Cire Trudon product is our classic-sized candle. It's a two hundred and seventy gram candle. We were one of the first brands to introduce a fairly large candle with a single wick to the market. If it's set upon a table, or a mantle, or a desk, it really is a statement object. Among our famous scents, we have 'Ernesto' - as in, Ernesto "Che" Guevara. It's described as having a leather and tobacco note, although it's not exactly the case. It has a very deep wood note, along with notes of grapefruit and bergamot. In its heart, you'll also find patchouli, wooden oak and clove. This is one of our best-sellers. 'Abd El Kader' is another fantastic scent in the line which sells very well. A major theme of our collections is royalty, with candles such as 'Solis Rex' whose scent was inspired by the wooden floors of the Château de Versailles. There is a very strong pine wood note combined with a beeswax scent. Within that theme, you'll also find candles such as 'Trianon', which is a much more floral candle. You also have candles such as 'Spiritus Sancti' which refers to a third underlying theme of our collection, which is religion. 'Odalisque' is a very emblematic candle with an artistic theme, in reference to the great painting of Ingres.
What are some of Cire Trudon's latest creation?
JP: More recently, we've added other names to the line such as 'Bartolome', which has both a revolutionary and a religious theme as it was created after Bartolome de las Casas. He was a religious man of the church who rebelled against the institution at one point in his life to promote the protection of the Indians of America. We like to tell these stories such as these - sometimes exotic, sometimes very French. There is also our 'Josephine' candle which we recently added to the Cire Trudon line. It's a very interesting as she was an empress and a revolutionary of her time. Many aspects of her life are so fascinating. She was almost a rebel at certain points of her life, yet simultaneously also very religious and very exotic. She was fascinated with plants, especially flowers. She devoted a great part of her life to build a fantastic garden at Malmaison. It turned out to be such an interesting theme that we had to explore it. Not only was she representative of French history, but our company had actually provided candles to her directly in the past. We have a historical trace of that. She was also a lover of scents. The 'Josephine' candle is the latest addition to our collection and we’re very proud of it.
What are some of the creative collaborations that the brand has been involved in?
JP: We are regularly approached by people who would like to create a special candle with us. They come to us because they recognise Cire Trudon as the experts in our domain - that if a candle needs to be made, then it needs to be made with Cire Trudon. When we do collaborations, we strive for all sorts of contrasts. In the case of Giambattista Valli, it was very much in line with his world - i.e. the scents that represent his vision of Italy and his vision of couture. We wanted that to blend very softly with Cire Trudon and that's eventually what came out of these products. They are very soft products. Parisian creative jewellery brand, Yazbukey, came to us saying, "I think you're the best candle brand. I want to make a candle with you. I have thought about this already. Here's what I have." It was perfect. We did a couple of minor changes obviously, but their head designer Yaz had thought about a great concept for Cire Trudon which was very much in contrast with the classic historical aspects of the brand, and we want that. Each time, it really matches the brand with whom we work with. More recently it was Valentino. You could compare that collaboration with Giambattista Valli. It's a softer approach. The jar has a different colour. The box has a different colour. It also has a different texture. They wanted to use canvas - the same type of canvas that you find stockmen wearing. They created the scent with a perfumer we introduced to them to. It really depends on the brand or the person with whom we collaborate. Again, we don't really decide when, with whom and how. It's really very instinctive. In some cases, we turn down some people. On other occasions, we're happy to think about it and the project takes a lot of time.
Where can we find Cire Trudon around the world?
JP: We currently have two stores in Paris, including a boutique in the left bank and one in the right bank. We also have a store on Chiltern Street in London. Then, we have point of sales - or special “corners” - within iconic department stores around the world, such as Le Bon Marche in Paris, Harrod's and Selfridges in London, Saks Fifth Avenue and Barneys in New York. We are seriously considering opening a store in New York this year. It's rather advanced in the process. I think it is interesting for a brand to consider things slowly. It can actually also help sales in a way. Sometimes rarity encourages sales to some extent. There is a limit to that obviously, but it's also important for us to preserve the unique aspect of the brand. We're very selective when it comes to our own locations, and we're also very selective when introducing our brand to a retailer. We have a fairly large network of retailers around the world and we work through distribution in some cases. What you may find in one store is different to another, and we like those differentiations. I could give you a couple of examples. We sell antiques at our stores except Le Bon Marche and in London. We sell antiques both in Le Mare and in Rue de Seine. Obviously, both have different types of antiques. They are the only two stores, that are in our network today, that sells those types of pieces. In Rue de Seine, we have the largest selection, for example, of taper candles. You may also design your own baptism candle at Rue de Seine if you were going to assist or be part of such a ceremony. These kinds of services makes the place unique. These are subtle differences but we find them important.
With such a rich history and tradition of excellence, what do you want Cire Trudon to be remembered for?
JP: We want to be remembered for the quality of our products. We want people to think that there's no other alternatives, that this is really the best product in it's category. They are always pleased to discover one of our candles, to use one of our candles, to gift one of our candles at various moments in their life. If we're able to be part - even a very small part - of people's lives that embellishes their daily lives and bring them comfort and pleasure, that's how we want to be remembered. If we can do so through the quality of our products, through the stories that we tell through our products, given the fact that we are a privately-owned company that manufactures its own products, I'm happy with any aspect that speaks of the brand. As long as we bring satisfaction to our customers.
Visit the Cire Trudon Online Store: trudon.com
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