Finding a scented candle that works well during the hot summer months can be a bit of a challenge. Even if the fragrance is delightful, just the act of striking a match to create a spark can be utterly unappealing on those days when the sun is beating down relentlessly and you can fry an egg on the pavement outside. Diffusers are perfect for the summer season, while candles — in my house at least — tend to be set away for rainier days or the coming autumn.
Sometimes, though, one comes across a good deal, and one feels almost compelled to pick up a candle (or, ahem, two) at a bargain price. Such was the case for me with my most recent candle purchase, the Shanghai candle by Tocca. Even though I knew the summer months were here, I was intrigued by the description:
China’s peony flower seduces the soul with a subtle sweetness and exotic beauty. Inspired by the vitality and pulse of one of the world’s great cities, Shanghai intoxicates with an indulgent, glamorous fragrance.
Being favorably disposed towards most things indulgent and glamorous, and to Tocca candles in general, I decided to give it a whirl.
The candle starts out promising in the box, a whisper of sweetness and a light touch. It has a nice clean burn, and a surprisingly rapid, although not at all cloying, throw; within just a few minutes of lighting it I could smell it a few rooms away. It is definitely floral, but I would have a hard time identifying it as peony. At best I might describe it as a pink-ish floral composition. It has a surprisingly round base, a slightly vanilla-honeyed warmth (although not really gourmand), which lends substance while still staying fairly light. There is also a subtle balm of aquatic notes, somewhat similar in feel, if not intensity, to those in Tocca's Cortina candle.
Like the other Tocca candles, it has a high-quality feel, and the composition is so smooth it reminds me of soft flowing silk. It's a pleasant and even cheerful fragrance for summer, not quite fresh but still light enough to enjoy on a balmy evening, but I found it lacked the vibrancy to hold my interest for very long. It's classy and well-behaved and pretty in an understated sort of way. But it doesn't have the full-bodied presence of some of my other favorite Tocca candles such as Grace (a warm and majestic lily). Still, if these notes sound just your cup of tea, you may well enjoy it — summer or any other time of the year.
Tocca's Shanghai candle is $36 for 10.6 oz. For buying information, see the listing for Tocca under Perfume Houses.
36 dollars for a 10.6 oz candle sounds like a good deal! I'm going think about buying as tocca candle for my room. Too many things to buy!
Yes, Tocca is one of the more reasonable lines of the high-end candles. I do happen to know that Beauty Exclusive has the Shanghai and Agadir candles by Tocca on sale for $29 right now…:)….although Grace still remains my favorite of the ones I have tried and the only one I would purchase again thus far.They do have some others that look quite lovely…(btw, the smaller ones are $16 and last longer than the usual votives, so that's also a good place to start/experiment if you don't want to invest in a big one)
Oh, the smaller ones sound just great for little gifts for friends and family or just to try all of the scents. Thanx for the info! Great article!!!
what's funny is, my mother's grown peonies for years, and NONE of them have an actual scent… not in the way that roses smell good, anyway. if you crush the petals you do get a green, sappy, crushed petals kind of smell…
in china and korea, pictures of peonies have traditionally been drawn WITHOUT butterflies or bees around it (while other flowers do) because the ancients believed a scentless flower could not draw insects to it.
so i've always wondered what “peony” smelled like as a note.
i don't own any florals, really (more of a hesperidic/woody/aquatic/fresh kind of gal), so i have nothing to compare it to. is peony as a perfume note kind of like the camellia note in chanel perfumes (i think it was une fleur de chanel or something, although i could be wrong), which is also scentless?
oh and robin, weeks and weeks after your monday mail article about me, i have found my current fragrance obssession.
this one should be a surprise!
although i liked many of the citrus-y scents suggested… i ended up buying FEMINITE DU BOIS. it's not dirty, nor is it clean, and kind of smells like pencil shavings (must be the cedar note) which is oddly comforting. THANK GOD THIS SCENT IS AVAILABLE AT SHISEIDO COUNTERS IN CANADA!!!
now next on my list of things to find is a perfect “power scent” that exudes a calm, quiet, composed, cool power. something sleek and feline and very tango-y… any suggestions?
Yes, they do make great little gifts to keep around. Glad you enjoyed the article! Do let me know if you end up trying any of the Tocca scents…will love to hear your thoughts.
Hmm, that's so interesting–and I love that bit of info about the Chinese and Korean art–will look for that next time. I wonder if there must be different types of peonies then? We have them in our garden and they all have the same distinctive fragrance–very light, a bit green, a heart that is sweet, and subtle enough to be maddening if you really want to capture the smell.
I have yet to experience it truly captured in a home fragrance–the best one I have tried to date was Mizensir's Peony candle, but even that falls short of the real thing. It's a bit like Sweet Pea–very elusive.
If anyone is aware of perfumes that do a good job on this, please do chime in!
So glad you fell in love with Feminite du Bois, that's a great scent.
Give me a few hints…what notes are you looking for in your “power” fragrance?
hmmm i have no idea. like i keep saying i love the marketed concept of YSL opium , CD poison, etc., but i can't stand how cloying it is.
the clove note in opium is gorgeous, however. something with a dry, spicy feel? cloves, black peppercorn, woods or just a touch incense (but i have no desire to smell like a hindu temple), ginger, sandalwood.
i thought i had it pretty perfect with bulgari blu but i am no longer happy with it (after buying four bottles). i want something marginally spicier and less powdery, but keeping the driness and not adding any of that unctuous/honeyed aspects of the big orientals… that would be so perfect for the coming fall, when the weather gets a bit cooler.
Gosh, the more I think about it, the more it seems like Feminite du Bois would be a perfect “power” scent!
Have you tried Givenchy Organza Indecence?
you think so?
i;ve been wearing feminite du bois for a few days now and i'n loving it… even the pencil shavings.
i have not tried organza indecence, i will go give it a good sniff the next time im in a department store.
If I might ask, does the Tocca Shanghai smell anything like a Shanghai Tang candle? (I would guess its now their “signature scent” one – ginger lily – though when I got it there was only one.)
I'm looking for a home scent like that (since it seems difficult to get the candle from Shanghai Tang without going to them). Can you offer thoughts on this or other home scents that would fit the “exotic but not cloying” bill? Sorry to be inexact, I'm learning the terminology.
Unfortunately, I haven't tried the Shanghai Tang candles, so I can't compare this to that. I wouldn't call this candle exotic, exactly, although it maybe nods in that direction briefly.
Have you tried Nile Lily by Pacifica? That used to be a favorite of mine–and very decently priced too. You could try a votive size and see if it fits your bill. I found it to be both exotic and lively, although it is quite sweet.
Ginger lily also brings to mind Molton Browns Heavenly Gingerlily line. They also do a candle, much more expensive and which I have not tried, but if you like their products you might want to check that out.
If you are willing to look outside of candles, the Anthousa diffusers are really lovely, and they have a Chinoiserie collection with a trio of scents–all quite elegant, exotic in a stately sort of way, and in varying degrees of warmth, spice, floral and herbal.
Those are the ones that come to mind for now…if I think of more I'll post them…Hope you find something you love!
Thank you for the suggestions! I'll look into the Pacifica, who made a candle I really liked, but seems to have stopped recently.
The Shanghai Tang is very nice, with “exotic” or “oriental” aspects without being really sweet, or especially heavy on the lily (which gets headachy for me).
I really need to check out the difusers as well, a they seem good value for money, but I like candles for the light, and also the control over a difuser.
I will keep an eye out for the Shanghai Tang candle-it sounds very nice!
There IS something nice about a candle vs. diffuser. Candles give such a lovely ambience and feeling of welcome. I like diffusers for a steady but subtle scent, and also the lack of worrying as to whether I left them burning, lol. They are good in places like guest rooms and bathrooms, whereas I tend to use candles more in the bedroom and living room.
Hope you like the Pacifica Nile Lily, if you try it!
Hi! I really love Tocca candle range especially Cortina, Florence, Grace and Tara. Would you happen to know which perfumer developed these fragrances or any of the Tocca fragrances?
Hi Grace, sorry but I've no idea, and kind of doubt Pia knows either although I'm sure she'll chime in if she does.
Hi Grace…unfortunately, Robin's right, I have no idea….but isn't Grace lovely?