A former Miss World and wife of a British national treasure, Lady Wilnelia Forsyth has evoked memories of her Caribbean childhood to create a collection of scented candles exclusively for Fortnum & Mason
Your new Wilnelia Forsyth London candle range launches early next month. How did this come about and what was your inspiration?
I was born and brought up in the Caribbean, and the beauty of the exotic flora of the Caribbean was my inspiration. Growing up with all these scents inspired me to replicate my childhood memories through the candle collection. I have always loved art, as it is another way to express beauty, and I studied for a degree in humanities with a concentration in art, which included history of art and fine art. In fact, the houses on each candle glass are based on a painting I did showing the Caribbean houses in all their glory.
You have captured the essence of the Caribbean in your candles. Can you describe the different fragrances?
Finding the right fragrance to evoke my Caribbean childhood memories was essential. With all the candles, I wanted to achieve a couture fragrance but at the same time creating a scent that fills the room in a gentle way. With Jungle Orchid, I wanted to capture the scent of the tropical rainforest – that earthy, mossy, early morning fresh scent when the earth hits the warm air and the giant leaves touch the rain.
With Azucena, the tuberose is a sensual flower which is typical of where I’m from and one of our national flowers used to bring good luck, especially at weddings. This flower represented the beginning of my journey, as my mother used to give it to me every time I embarked on my travels for good luck. The scent is a very feminine composition of all white flowers. Valle de Collores captures the beauty of the island, representing the ocean and containing sea breeze and bergamot. This represents the people’s love of their land. Cunda Amore is a joyful scent filled with passionfruit, coconut and mango, encouraging feasting and fun, and was inspired by my memories playing with my brother and the love we share. This is a great candle to light on a terrace after a meal. Moon Flower is the romance candle. It includes a rare oil, Queen of the Night. This flower opens once only at night, and its beauty under the moon light is spectacular. The colour represented in the jar is blue lapis lazuli.
My husband has been part of this whole journey and he loves them all, but especially the Valle de Collores, because it reminds him of the sea air
The design of the packaging is very vibrant and eye-catching. Does colour play a big part in your life?
I have always loved vibrant colours and when I moved to London, I didn’t own a little black dress and was the only one in colour! I am so happy that vibrant colours seem to be embraced by all now. I chose the orange for my candle boxes because it’s warm, tropical and it emulates sunshine and heat without being as aggressive as red. It’s a colour of creativity. It’s a happy colour and I wanted my customers to feel this vibrancy when receiving one of my candles for the first time.
Your candles are hand-poured, made of a premium 100% natural blend and a high proportion of natural oils. Why is it important that they contain no synthetic ingredients?
I think nowadays, we are all very concerned about our environment and look at ways to look after our planet. I have a strong inclination to reach for the pure and natural, as we are surrounded by mostly synthetic, high-performing molecules in our cleaning products, toiletries, and even foods and medicines. My memories of the Caribbean are based on the purity of flora – this I was only able to capture by using natural oils true to the plants!
Does your husband, Bruce, have a favourite candle from your collection?
My husband has been part of this whole journey and he loves them all, but especially the Valle de Collores, because it reminds him of the sea air.
What does a scented candle bring to the home?
There is nothing more wonderful than stepping through your front door and smelling that wonderful aroma of your candle, or lighting it while having a relaxing bath. The warmth glowing from within the home is what I wanted my candles to reflect. The warmth of family life is something very special.
What do you like to do for relaxation?
I love going to the cinema to enter another world. Cooking and painting are my most relaxing things to do. If I am in Dorado, Puerto Rico, I enjoy going for walks by the sea and it’s my chance to think about the day I have ahead. I always enjoy listening to music, especially while I’m working.
Can you tell us your everyday luxury?
I adore filling the house with fresh flowers, especially white lilies and orchids. Having time with my family and friends is also a luxury for me, as I live on two time zones. My first day starts at 6am and my second day starts when my Caribbean family and friends start their day, which is five hours behind mine!
The Wilnelia Forsyth London candle range is available exclusively at Fortnum & Mason from 8 June 2016, priced at £48 each