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In Search of Proust’s Scent With Iconologie

Launched by photographer, director and producer Laurent Seroussi, Iconologie aims to evoke the essence of artists such as Marcel Proust, Victor Hugo and Colette.

Photographer, director and producer Laurent Seroussi is looking to take scented candles into a new, arty direction with the launch of his brand Iconologie.

In his new venture, Seroussi developed luxury scented candles that aim to evoke the essence of great artistic movements and their prime exponents, starting from the likes of Marcel Proust, Victor Hugo and Colette. The goal is “to give people the possibilities to dive into the ambience and creative process” of such muses, but also celebrate the craftsmanship noses, master glassmakers and cardboard makers.

“I have always loved candles and…have always used them as a source of natural light in a lot of shootings, photographic creations, staging and music videos,” said Seroussi, recalling he first thought of launching the brand a decade ago when “I couldn’t find what I was looking for.”

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“I like complexity and sophistication and I could never find [those] in scented candles.…And usually when I can’t find something, I’ll make it myself,” he added.

With an international education that includes the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs and École Boulle in Paris, Central Saint Martins in London and The Cooper Union in New York, Seroussi has always had a multidisciplinary approach to the art world. Yet while he toyed with the idea of launching Iconologie for years, it was only during COVID-19 that he had time to focus on the project and actually bring it to life.

“I’ve always been multifaceted. I love every artistic aspect of a job. What I bring to the table is the search for perfection, the luxurious aspect of an object from its conception to its final creation.…I do everything myself: drawing, shooting and producing,” said Seroussi. “After sight and touch, smell was the next sense I wanted to explore. How to make it alive, to perceive it…I love the whole challenge.”

An Iconologie scented candle. Laurent Seroussi

Manufactured in France’s Normandy region, Iconologie’s candles imagine and reinterpret artists’ fragrances based on where they lived, their work and their personalities. To do so, Seroussi studied the Parisian address of each artist, taking inspiration from each architecture.

Launching on the centenary of his death on Friday [Nov.18], the first candle developed was inspired by Marcel Proust, who lived at 45 Rue de Courcelles, and releases a spicy fragrance blending cardamom, cinnamon and Tonka bean.

The second candle pays tribute to Victor Hugo and his iconic residence in 6 Place des Vosges; the scent consists of a leathery wax mixed with notes of thyme, cedar, sandalwood and patchouli. The third one dedicated to Colette, who resided at 9 Rue du Beaujolais, is a combination of geranium, violet and papyrus.

“These first three artists were an obvious choice, because of their personalities, of course, but also because of what they represented as humans, with their artworks, masterpieces and their unique relationship with Paris. I studied them thoroughly, I walked through Paris, photographed their buildings and windows to recreate their atmosphere. The window you see on each candle is the actual window of the building they used to live in,” said the founder referencing the glass vase each candle comes in. The secondary packaging is a paper case reproducing the Parisian building that housed each artist.

The Iconologie scented candle dedicated to Victor Hugo.
The Iconologie scented candle dedicated to Victor Hugo. Laurent Seroussi/Courtesy of Iconologie

Retailing for 145 euros each, the scented candles just debuted at Iconologie’s online store. “Our small-scale production, made by order, demands the flexibility offered by the digital world,” noted Seroussi, adding that the brand has already been approach by few international retailers, especially decor stores based in Tokyo.

Looking forward, the founder has already identified the next artists who will inspire new candles and add to the collection: painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir, novelist Émile Zola and singer Édith Piaf.