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LUMIRA is a luxury scented candle and fragrance house founded by Almira Armstrong in Sydney, Australia. LUMIRA products are your luxury lifestyle essentials. Copyright 2018 Atelier Lumira.

Journal

Four films with memorable candlelight scenes

Almira Armstrong

The art of filmmaking is intimately connected to the ability to harness light; in this medium, the dance of illumination and darkness is both literal and symbolic. And perhaps the most evocative light of all is candlelight, which has come to be a shorthand for beauty, sophistication and, of course, romance. As beautiful as it may be, filming candlelight comes with its share of technical challenges and is often attempted only by the surest of hands. With the 2018 Sydney Film Festival well underway, we pay tribute to a few of the most evocative candlelight scenes in cinematic history.

Barry Lyndon

This 1970s Stanley Kubrick classic broke new technical ground with its use of candlelight, and is still considered a reference point for filmmakers today. The reason: Kubrick was determined to shoot as much as possible without electric lights, which meant that entire scenes in the 19th century period drama were lit only with candles. The legendary director reportedly used a camera lens developed for NASA to get exactly the right effect for one scene. Another scene involving thousands of candles took a week to set up, before eventually being scrapped and replaced. The effort paid off, as the film won Academy Awards for both art direction and cinematography (not to mention music and costumes).

Be inspired: Channel an air of classic masculinity with the warm, rich notes of Cuban Tobacco.

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Sixteen Candles

One of the cult teen-angst films of the 1980s, Sixteen Candles saw Molly Ringwald’s Prom Queen suffer through a birthday that was overlooked by her entire family and the wedding of her annoying older sister. But all was right with her world by the end, when she shared a kiss with a hot senior in the closing scene. Her candle-laden birthday cake was, of course, the icing on top.

Be inspired: To create a festive and feminine moment of your own, it’s impossible to resist Persian Rose.

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Sex and The City I

In keeping with the slightly over-the-top opulence of the first SATC film, candles are never depicted as a simple pillar or discreet votive. No, in the world of Carrie and co, they hang by the dozens in lavish chandeliers suspended from double-height ceilings. They add a flattering glow to her wedding-dress shoot for Vogue and lend drama to that fateful pre-wedding dinner at Buddakan. And of course, the giant pillars topped with blazing candles in the foyer of the New York Public Library only heighten the emotion as Carrie flees her own wedding scene. 

Be inspired: Create some drama of your own with the sophisticated floral bouquet of La Primavera Mattina.

The Beguiled

At Martha Farnsworth’s Seminary for Young Ladies, candlelit dinners double as an opportunity for headmistress Nicole Kidman, teacher Kirsten Dunst and their students to catch-up on the day’s happenings. Then wounded soldier Colin Farrell arrives on the scene and (controlled) chaos ensues as the women compete for his attention. With the film set during the American Civil War, candlelight was de rigeur and director Sofia Coppola has revealed that many different types of candles were tested before she settled on a double-wick option for the right effect. 

Be inspired: Keep the mood chic but restrained with Tunisian Mint Tea.

Written by Michelle Bateman

Lumira Travels | Florence

Almira Armstrong

Florence1.jpg

The birthplace of both the Renaissance and the powerful Medici family empire, Florence has long been a city to soak up some of the most opulent art and history in Europe. That’s still the case: you can’t visit Florence and not see Il Duomo cathedral or visit the Accademia. It’s just that these days, it’s not only history that’s on offer, as younger creatives infuse the Tuscan capital with their own brand of cool. The most memorable holiday in this region combines the best of both worlds.

STAY

Within spitting distance of Il Duomo, Hotel Spadai is only a short stroll from many of the city’s other top attractions (like the Uffizi museum, home to many of the city’s masterpieces including Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus). Insider tip: the Spadai has its own private viewing platform with practically the same view as that from the top of the neighbouring cathedral, so you can take in the sights without the queues or the crowds. For a little bit of luxury, stay at the Four Seasons surrounded by historic buildings and a quiet garden sanctuary or for an escape overlooking the city, Belmond Villa San Michele is a must!

 Hotel Spadai

Hotel Spadai

 Uffizi

Uffizi

 Four Seasons Firenze

Four Seasons Firenze

 Belmond Villa San Michele

Belmond Villa San Michele

SHOP

For fashion fans, there’s really only one reason to visit Florence: the newly opened Gucci Garden housed in a 14th century palazzo. Everything Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele touches turns to gold, and that includes the Garden, which has become a retail mecca since it first opened in January this year. The elaborate space combines an exhibition area, a restaurant and of course, a store packed full of exclusive finds, including a much-hyped collection of homewares. Only visit if you’re prepared to pay the excess baggage fees on the way home.

For a slightly more traditional retail experience, head to Pratesi for some of the world’s finest linens; the family-run company first set up shop here in 1906. And a visit to Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella – which has been making cosmetics, perfumes and other apothecary items for more than 400 years – is an absolute must.

 Gucci Garden

Gucci Garden

EAT

No matter what your taste or budget, there’s no excuse for not eating well in Florence. Part of the Gucci Garden, the Osteria da Massimo Bottura is helmed by a three-Michelin-starred chef and combines fine dining with pop flourishes, such as hamburgers served in neon pink Gucci boxes. Insiders rate Il Pizzaiuolo as serving some of the best pizza in town. Or choose your own produce in the Mercato Centrale Firenze, a large indoor artisanal food market. And don’t leave Florence without sampling gelato (the city claims the title of birthplace of this sweet treat) from either Vivoli or Perche’No. 

EXPLORE

Once you’ve had your fill of ancient buildings, cobblestone streets and incredible art (be sure to visit Michaelangelo’s David at Galleria Dell’Accademia), take a road trip to experience more of Tuscany’s beauty, further afield. Leave the top down on your rental car as you cruise through the stunning wine region of Chianti or the medieval town of Lucca. Or head for the sea and explore the five coastal towns of the Cinque Terre. Make sure your camera is fully charged, as this photogenic region offers picturesque opportunities at every one of its many twists and turns.

 Ponte Vecchio

Ponte Vecchio

EVOKE

If a trip to Florence is little more than a daydream right now, you can still enjoy a taste of the region via Lumira’s Tuscan Fig scent. It’s warm and earthy, and really captures the luscious sweetness of a handful of figs ripe enough to burst. No matter where in the world you find yourself, if you close your eyes and inhale deeply, you can practically feel the sun on your face and see the rolling green hills of Tuscany.

Written by Michelle Bateman

At Home With Anna Lavdaras

Almira Armstrong

 Jacquemus La Bolso Mini Shirtdress,  mychameleon.com.au

Jacquemus La Bolso Mini Shirtdress, mychameleon.com.au

As founder of her own lifestyle and homewares label, Philé, it comes as no surprise that Anna Lavdaras’ home is both warmly inviting and thoughtfully designed. Positioned on the top floor of an art deco block in Bondi, the original parquetry floors and ornate ceilings are complemented by Lavdaras’s fondness for mid-century Italian design. “I love clean, modern design, natural materials and polished metals,” she says, listing Gio Ponti, Achille Castiglioni, Cini Boeri and Gabriella Crespi as influences.

Lavdaras and her fiancé, Tomi, moved into the apartment 18 months ago, “after months of painful Saturday mornings spent at back-to-back inspections. I was pretty much sold the minute I stepped foot inside.” 

These days, it doubles as headquarters and showroom for Philé, a range of beautiful monogrammed cashmere blankets and scarves that are light as air but ideal for staying warm when the sea breeze blows in. While sipping coffee from her kitchen looking out to Bondi Beach, Lavdaras told us more about her home style.

What time of day do you most enjoy being in your home? 

Saturday afternoons after a day at the beach, showered and relaxed with a cocktail in hand. There’s a beautiful sea breeze that sweeps through the entire apartment.

 Rejina Pyo Michaela Linen Midi Dress,  mychameleon.com.au

Rejina Pyo Michaela Linen Midi Dress, mychameleon.com.au

How do you like to use scent at home?

I love layering scents in my home like I do with my own perfumes, pairing heavier base notes in the more open spaces with lighter top notes in the bedrooms. I like floral notes for spring, like jasmine, tuberose and gardenia, garnishes like mint and lavender, and a hint of neroli zest. In the cooler months, I’ll swap these out for headier ingredients like fig, sage and amber. I just dusted off my faithful Tuscan Fig candle, which thankfully wasn’t quite complete from its last winter rotation. It really warms up my big open spaces like the living/dining area. I light it as soon as the sun sets, and keep it burning until bedtime.

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What’s your favourite thing in your home and why? 

It’d have to be the burl wood credenza I discovered in a Botany antique shop a few months back. The owner found it in a little old lady’s country home somewhere in the Southern Highlands, and it was perfectly maintained – not a scratch in sight! The art deco curves and colours are beautiful, and somehow it complements and enhances everything else in the room.

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You’ve travelled quite a bit for work and play. What are your favourite destinations to visit? 

I recently spent some time in Japan and fell completely in love with it. We stayed at the Aman in Tokyo which was a destination unto itself, designed by Aussie Kerry Hill Architects. Otherwise, my spirit land is Italy, and I go back there as often as possible. We just booked our honeymoon, road-tripping through Puglia in September. Lumira’s Sicilian Citrus reminds me so much of European summers spent in Sicily’s beachside town of Taormina. 

Are there any other scents that you connect with places?

I was introduced to a new spectrum of green tea in Kyoto. I stayed at the beautiful Hoshinoya on the outskirts of Kyoto, and will always be transported back when I smell green tea.

Can you share any advice for making travel more comfortable, especially long-haul flights? 

A cashmere shawl. It’s breathable so you never overheat, and so soft – plus it’s light enough to fold and fits into almost anything.

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What has been a favourite discovery from your travels so far? 

I bought some Skultana brass candlesticks from The Line the last time I was in New York, which are pretty great. I’ll always buy an art book from exhibitions I visit when travelling and I love handmade ceramics. I once lugged an entire dinner set home with me from Hoi An, Vietnam. And yes, I’ve spent a fortune on excess luggage weight!

Photography by Kath Mclean, Bright Photography
Interview by Michelle Bateman