Astier De Villate – The Journey…

When I was asked if I would like to write a blog about what it feels like to sell the beautiful range of Astier de Villatte at Penelope Allen Design I was a little nervous. Having never written a blog before, I wondered if I would be able to completely convey my feelings about my new found passion!

At Penelope Allen Design, all products are chosen with great care and they and have just one aim, to fulfil their ‘destiny’ but I found myself particularly drawn to this new brand Astier de Villatte as soon as it arrived.

Walking along side the exquisite 7ft long French walnut table originating in a French commune from the 1800’s is where it all begins. This table houses our exclusive range of 15 candles made with the finest ingredients, each beautifully presented in a unique individually hand blown collectors piece of glass. Elegantly packed in timeless monochrome inspired packaging where even the typesetting on the product happens to have been done by the last remaining typesetter in France. Each candle sits under the embrace of a glass veil in the form of an exclusively designed bell jar signed by Astier de Villatte, this adds to the intrigue of the fragrance waiting to to be released.

The candles are accompanied by a complimentary range of incense sticks which transform the simplest essence of any fragrance into an intoxicating attack of the senses, almost magical! Resting on the other side of the table is an extraordinary and unique range of ceramic incense burners, whether it’s in the shape of a Smoking Cat, the beauty of Marie Antoinette, the Perched Bird, or the simple Emilie design, each tells a story. We also have the decorous ceramic lid for the candles for the many who simply just want to keep a graceful collectors piece to admire and appreciate time after time.

Astier de Villatte sells quite simply the most exquisite ceramics; well known Internationally from appealing to royalty and stars all over the world, to avid collectors and connoisseurs of fine ceramics, to those who simply wish to treasure that one beautiful piece.

To think that this brand is like any other could not be further from the truth. It’s actually now that the journey begins and the story unfolds. Having started to appreciate that each fragrance captures the essence of a particular city was for me quite a fascinating concept in itself.

The more I delved into the concept and understanding of the brand the more I felt that I was falling deeper and deeper in love with the mystery of Astier de Villatte. So if you’ll indulge me a little, i’d like to take you along on this journey and travel a little back in time…

Astier de Villatte a Parisian brand, is situated in a small premises on the Rue St Honore (which also happens to be the name of their signature fragrance) as if being on one of the swankiest high streets in Paris where many of the largest fashion houses like Chanel and Hermes are based was not enough, their workshop was actually once owned by the silversmith of Napolean Bonaparte!

The brand itself was founded by Benoit Astier and Ivan Pericole in 1996 but the skills that Benoit has, were passed on from generations before. It was Benoit’s father who taught him all the ceramic techniques that set them apart from the rest and made them a sought after brand, whether it be their world renowned ceramics, fragrance, glassware or cutlery.

Each ceramic item is hand crafted from the finest black clay, lightly glazing each piece allowing you to still see parts of the clay creating a very unique look. Specialised techniques used by their skilled team give each finished piece an element of almost deliberate imperfection which only adds to making each piece even more uniquely desirable. Every single piece, big and small, bears the initials of the maker.

Venturing a little deeper, I wanted to explore the fragrances. The journey of discovery, which is literally a journey around the world, continued to entice me; for example the fragrance Cabourg is not only a sea side resort on the Normandy Coast but also the beginning of this story.

Cabourg is a chic, glorious and romantic sea side resort where the Palatial Grand Hotel stands. Its gardens are famous for their hanging clusters of fragrant flowers exuding aromas of wisteria and bursts of creamy jasmine accented by the freshness of the ocean spray. These gardens were frequented by Marcel Proust from the early 1900’s and it was in these gardens that he would sit for inspiration and it was here that he wrote his internationally acclaimed novel ‘Within a Budding Grove’:

“If a little dreaming is dangerous, the cure for it is not to dream less but to dream more, to dream all the time.”

The journey continues to the Grand Chalet. This fragrance encapsulates the swiss alpine pastures and the enchanted fragrances of milk and honey with hints of citrus from the nearby surrounding ancient lime trees. This fragrance sits in the heart of a small village surrounding a magnificent wooden Grand Chalet, one of the oldest and largest chalets in Switzerland. Being totally captivated with his surroundings, it was here that the famous French modern artist Balthasar Klossowski de Rola better known as Balthus, made his home with his ceramicist wife Stsuko. Today, like a wonderful memory his favourite perfume still continues to fill this place.

One of Balthus’s obsessions were cats and it was the famous ‘Smoking Cat’ created by Astier de Villatte that was Balthus inspired and was made in collaboration with Balthus’s wife Setsuko. So this Smoking Cat is a piece of Balthus, Astier de Villatte and Setsuko all rolled into one. How amazing is that!

The fragrance Stockholm represents the interlaced lanes and cobblestones in this pastel and earthy old city, hiding the secret address of the famous Swedish Bitters Elixir. King Gustav II would give this elixir to his army of Viking warriors to render then invincible. It was an inebriating mixture of wild plants,with clove, lavandin, myrrh, vetiver and clary sage that would escape from the bottle. It was this fragrance that was associated with the Elixir of Power and the fragrance of that Elixir that Astier has captured. How fascinating!

I don’t know of any other brand of fragrant candles and incenses that can take you on a journey of this kind, or even claim to be able to tell you such enchanting stories at all; I have only touched on a few of these seductive scents but I invite you come to Pad Deco and make some sensory discoveries of your own.

I can’t wait to meet those of you who are a little curious and would love to join me on this journey and as for as how I feel about selling this wonderful brand? Well, I’m going to let you be the judge of what you think selling Astier de Villatte means to me!