White orchid, pink pepper, candle wax, myrrh.
Eleven Candles in Antwerpen by Freddie Albrighton opens with a fantasy white floral orchid accord. In reality, in the way that this wears, it’s sweet with a slightly narcotic floral edge at first, blooming into a very dry but still sweet coconutty type scent. There is a sense of warmth and uplift from the pink pepper and there is this intriguing effect of the fragrance opening out as it warms. At times the florals become quite soapy although retaining an interesting sense of dryness. Whilst it doesn’t conjure the specific orchid smell I have imagined (and why should it?), it does give that sense of glass house flowers, in a slightly strange way. Almost like they’re concentrated somehow, distilled into the essence of a glass house.
The charm of the opening bars of Eleven Candles lie in its strangeness. If it was a glass house flower then it would be some overly large, slightly mysterious, Gothic bloom that was central to some penny dreadful type ghost story – and what’s not to like about any of that?! All that said though, this is a reasonably strong scent, and one which is quite intense, but it doesn’t feel claustrophobic and it doesn’t feel stodgy or cloying too. I’m intrigued by the way that Freddie has managed to play with the intensity whilst retaining an airy diffusivity and that adds to the sense of the strangeness we find here in the start of the fragrance.
As the scent matures, the main bulk of the performance slowly moves from the fantasy floral accord towards a candle wax one but it loses none of its intensity in doing so. The candle wax in the heart of a wear is greasy, a little oily, and almost plasticky in the way in which wax sometimes is. These smell like those big, thick pillar candles you get in churches. There are hints of honey bridging the gap between floral accord and waxy accord and I almost wanted that to linger a little longer to make it certain that these were beeswax candles.
Again, Freddie has managed to distill an interesting sense of intensity here, this isn’t a lone candle burning in an empty room you are getting wafts of (like a normal candle, for example). Instead, this is a huge box of candles, a heap of them, perhaps they’ve been sat by the radiator or they’ve been burning for a while so have become warmed, slightly melty, before being gathered together, and you have your nose pressed right into the midst of them so the smell fills your head. That is the level of candle which Eleven Candles conjures up.
There is movement in Eleven Candles for sure, but it is a languid movement like a bead of wax slowly melting to dribble down a candle stick. In the final phases of the wear the dryness in the scent becomes almost prickly. When you inhale it it hits high up in the sinuses conjuring up tiny aromatic dust particles now pinging around your brain like some crazy atomic pinball machine.
The soapy vibe re-emerged towards the final phase of a wear too, with whispers of a smokiness behind it. There’s a lingering sweetness, but it isn’t too sweet, and the sense of old, polished wood sneaking into the remainder of the scent’s life.
Whilst the inspiration behind the fragrance is churchy, this is an abstraction of what that might mean, as if certain elements have been brought into extreme close up (the candles, a flower) whilst other notes you may find in a cathedral have been pushed back or omitted entirely. As a result, Eleven Candles is a nice way to wear something which has that sort of reference, but in a new, modern way.
The other stuff
The longevity of Eleven Candles is good. It wears at a pretty loud volume for the first four hours or so before reducing a fair bit for another four or so, but even then it is noticeable. When it is at full pelt it goes to about handshake distance or perhaps a little under. In the latter phase of a wear it’s closer to the body but does still project a pleasant level of sillage.
The perfumer for this fragrance is Freddie Albrighton.
Over on his Instagram channel, Freddie has talked about the inspiration behind this scent as being when he visited a cathedral in Antwerp with his family and lit candles for those loved ones they had lost.
Freddie Albrighton is a tattooer turned self-taught perfumer who has shaken the UK fragrance scene with his well-developed creations. You can read all about the brand and their first three releases in our Brand Guide to Freddie Albrighton.
Eleven Candles is available from the Freddie Albrighton web boutique priced at £89 for 50ml of EdP.
Freddie very kindly gifted us a sample of this fragrance with no strings attached.