Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Manuel Canovas Nuit de Serendip Candle

Manuel Canovas is a French brand known for exquisite textiles celebrating eighteenth century French style with vibrant colors and modern interpretation. In addition to fabrics for upholstery and curtains the brand has branched out to various luxury home goods. Probably the only thing in the line I can afford are the deeply scented candles. La Maison Manuel Canovas was founded in 1963 in Paris.  Mr. Canovas is inspired by journeys to exotic locations and beautiful gardens, and these travels have influenced his line of candles. The candle I'm reviewing today is Nuit De Serendip.

Serendip is an ancient Arabic name for the island of Sri Lanka (Ceylon) and the first recorded use was in 361. The most familiar use of the word is serendipity which was coined by Englishman Horace Walpole in the eighteenth century and was inspired by the Persian tale, "The Three Princes of Serendip". The princes in the story traveled the world, "making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of...”.  In more recent times serendipity is defined by the Oxford English dictionary as "the faculty of making happy and unexpected discoveries by accident.” To read an interesting article on serendipitous medical discoveries, including penicillin and Viagra, read this. To read a version of the tale that inspired Walpole to invent the word serendipity read this. To those wondering if there is actually a scent review coming, forge onward!

I imagine that the ancient island of Serendip is what inspired Mr. Canovas in the naming of this candle. I have only been to Sri Lanka once. It was in 1988 and during the long civil war between government forces and the Tamil Tigers, which ran from 1983 until 2009. My husband and I flew through Sri Lanka because we were on a remote island in the Indian Ocean and transiting Sri Lanka was the most expedient way to get to India. We had a two day wait in Columbo for our flight connection. We were two of about five non locals on the flight, and upon landing the waiting room of the airport was loud with salesmen trying to convince you to come to their hotel. We chose Mount Lavinia Hotel, a 200 year old Colonial historic structure, and took a rather scary drive to the hotel under police escort. We only saw about eight other guests in the two days we were there but the absolute gentleman of a manager made sure we were comfortable. I asked why they had so many employees bustling about, an inordinate number who were polishing brass door knobs, and he replied wryly, "We're just trying to keep them employed." I am happy that the country has had such a tourist renaissance in the last few years and I so want to go back. We were not allowed to leave the hotel grounds so we spent two days laying by the pool on a bluff overlooking the ocean, surrounded by flowering frangipani, jasmine, and gardenia. The tropical smell was beautiful and made it hard to believe what disaster lay outside the guarded gates.

So finally, to the candle. Nuit de Serendip is scented with freesia, tuberose, jasmine and orange flower. Together these blend to give the fragrance of lush gardenia. Gardenia cannot be distilled easily so perfumers may use other white flowers to replicate the scent. I've found that white flowers do generally smell more lush and voluptuous at dusk, after the sun has set. This scent transports me to tropical shores and it is so rich that it might be one you want to burn for special nights. Manuel Canovas candles are a luxury brand and are priced as such, but they do have a more lasting fragrance than you will find with cheaper candles. The candles come with a gold lid which if you forget to put it on when you're not burning the candle, you'll find you can smell even the unlit candle. The candles can be found in the USA at and

Top photo my own. Photo of Mount Lavinia Hotel on Google. Photo of candle from Manuel Canovas.

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