The millions of people who watched Meghan Markle marry Prince Harry couldn’t smell the royal wedding. But if they could have, they would have experienced the distinct aroma of many Diptyque candles. Providing the Royal Wedding candle only confirmed what we’ve long known about Diptyque — it’s the Status Candle. The French company has been around for over 50 years and its scents have inspired devotion in everyone from Mike Nichols (he always burned the Oranger ones) to Beyoncé (vanilla). When I told someone I’ve been asking around about the next Status Candle, he replied, “What’s the current status ca — oh, Diptyque.”
But as scent preferences shift away from flowery perfumes toward earthy scents like palo santo (which multiple people surveyed say they simply prefer over candles), and as a mini-boom in candle-making grows in the United States, now could be the time to name a new Status Candle. The newer ones aren’t quite so formal and rarefied, either — it’s easy to find 6-to-8-ish ounce candles for under $40 now, instead of for $65 and up. To name the newest status candles, we asked designers, buyers, and people with generally good taste about which ones they think will dethrone Diptyque.
“Conceived beyond the gender binary,” Boy Smells is a two-year-old brand out of Los Angeles. It’s a small company — its two founders, a couple, started mixing the candles in their home and still run the company out of it — and it’s extremely new-guard, what with the pale pink packaging and the fact that boy smells are usually not pleasant smells (irony!). None of which should distract from the fact that these candles also smell really good in unassuming ways. (I can personally attest to this: I discovered the brand in a beautiful shop in my neck of Brooklyn, and bought the ST. AL. candle, with a scent of sandalwood, clay, and oud. I light it almost every night.)
Boy Smells comes recommended from, among others, Ted Vadakan, founder of the Los Angeles shop Poketo. When I reached out to the Sydell Group, which runs stylish properties like the Line Hotels and the Freehands, they directed me to Vadakan, as there’s a Poketo in the lobby of the Line in L.A. Poketo has carried Boy Smells from the beginning, when the latter’s founders were peddling their new wares and showed up at Vadakan’s shop. “I think so many candle lines are steered toward a more feminine point of view,” Vadakan says. “With Boy Smells, it’s definitely for both men and women.” His favorite scent is the Cedar Stack, which smells like sawdust but also like labdanum, a floral resin. On the East Coast, jewelry and bag designer Susan Alexandra says she loves Boy Smells’ Ash candle, which she found at the shop Mott NYC. “I walked in and I was like, ‘What’s happening here?’ and they were like, ‘Oh, it’s Boy Smells,’” she says. Creatures of Comfort also burns them.
But an incredible aroma isn’t quite enough to confer haute status. So I reached out to Lisa Says Gah, an online shop that sells brands like Maryam Nassir Zadeh and Paloma Wool, to ask why Boy Smells is the only candle they carry. “So many reasons,” said Lisa’s buyer Gabriela Pelletier. The unique scents for one, plus the Lisa team really likes the Boy Smells founders. But crucially, a Boy Smells candle is a notable object on its own. “Diptyque is really known for their branding,” Pelletier says. “So is Boy Smells. It’s a pink label and a perfect font. You can recognize it as soon as you see it. It’s similar to a really prominent shoe brand: You know how women recognize each other’s shoes? Any woman can always recognize a Maryam Nassir Zadeh shoe. You don’t even have to be up close.” It’s a signal, a code, if you know how to read it.