To celebrate what would have been Billie Holiday’s 106 birthday, Harlem Candle Company launched Lady Day, a scent inspired by the iconic jazz singer’s signature white gardenia she always wore in her hair. Packaged in a jewel-toned and gold-accented tumbler, the luxury candle is a nod to the Harlem Renaissance that inspired its offering. Travel expert Teri Johnson founded Harlem Candle Company in 2014, cooking up scented candles in her Harlem, New York kitchen to speak to the rich history of what is considered to be a cultural mecca for African-American people. Each candle draws on the rich history of the people and places who made Harlem Renaissance a phenomenon with names like Langston, Josephine, Speakeasy, and Lenox Avenue.
Johnson added Lady Day to her line-up on March 7. She brings the scent to life on the company’s website, writing “They called her Lady Day and she beckoned you closer and gripped you in your very soul. Dare to discover the smoky shadows and secret salons where she reigned supreme. Our Lady Day candle, evokes the irresistible excitement of her Harlem nights and joyful appetite for life.”
Johnson worked with a perfumer born in France who was already familiar with the songstress, making it easier to bring her essence to the candle. “When I approached her about creating the fragrance, she was so excited and she already knew about Billie,” Johnson tells GRAZIA. “She knew about the role activism played in Billie’s music.” Together, she and Johnson were able to create a fragrance that was powerful yet delicate and vulnerable. “When you think of the beautiful femininity of the gardenia, we wanted to make sure the candle really did come alive and bring those elements into the home,” Johnson said. “The gardenia transports you into a beautiful space where you can imagine Billie Holiday singing.”
Beginning on Sunday, April 11, Johnson will partner with her best friend, Vanessa Lee, and the co-creator of Lionette by Noa Sade — a New York-based jewellery brand — on an exclusive limited-edition gift box. “One thing I always thought was so beautiful were the earrings that Billie Holiday wore against her shiny dark hair,” Johnson continued, complimenting Holiday’s profile. “In fact, I am actually doing a collaboration with a jewellery company on an exclusive Mother’s Day gift box with the Lady Day candle and a pair of earrings created in honour of Billie.”