Interview: Trudon Creative Director Julien Pruvost

Steering the French heritage candlemaker into a fragrant future

“We’re an old-new brand,” Julien Pruvost, creative director at Trudon says of the French candle and fragrance company, which was founded in 1643 but refreshed in 2006. Pruvost, who has been with the luxury maison for more than a decade, stewards their illustrious history as he expands their collection of beloved, sophisticated scents. From a store on rue Saint Honoré in the 17th century to the halls of Versailles under Louis XIV, the brand’s early reputation was built upon their use of the most pristine beeswax. Today, Trudon—which was awarded a living heritage honor from the French government—offers not only candles but also room sprays, perfumes (including last year’s exquisite Aphélie introduction) and recently released diffusers. A design poetry unifies it all.

“As the creative director of Trudon, I like to bring sincerity to the table,” Pruvost says, virtually guiding us through his office in the second arrondissement of Paris. “This includes infusing meaning into the product names and introducing concepts that bring us forward. When possible, I like to infuse spiritual aspects, as well.”

In 2020, Trudon debuted their first diffuser, called L’Œuf. “It’s an imitation of an ostrich egg in ceramic. It sits on top of black milled wood. The design was done by Dimitri Smilenko, a Paris-based designer. It’s meant to be reminiscent of something you’d find in 17th or 18th century curiosity cabinets, where birds eggs were considered exotic and collectible. In some cases, they were even encrusted with precious stones,” Pruvost says. “Our position here was more of a design editor. L’Œuf is not necessarily recognizable as a Trudon piece but it’s very much aligned with our history.”

Last year, Trudon introduced a diffuser more closely attune to their established design language and crafted from ribbed green glass. They utilized the same manufacturer in Tuscany that makes all of their candle vessels, even the ornately decorated ones. “You understand the continuity of the shape—its logic with the rest of our lines,” Pruvost says. Anyone familiar with the brand’s historic crest will easily identify the pieces.

“We are not pretending we are inventing something new,” Pruvost continues of the role the diffuser plays in the brand’s repertoire. “It is meant to fulfill a functionality that we did not have yet in the Trudon family: it is something that welcomes you automatically when you arrive home or to your office. As soon as the diffuser is activated, it will continue to welcome you.” Each diffuser emits its scent for roughly three months.

For a luxury brand that’s been making candles for centuries, it marks a development that they were opposed to at first. “But,” Pruvost says, “it’s faithful to many Trudon values. It even introduces some.” Regarding the former, Pruvost refers to their commitment to premium materials. The diffuser’s components are natural rattan reed sticks, 100% aluminum and glass (20% of which is recycled). Further, the diffusers are meant to be refilled. This affirms a newer commitment from Trudon: a greater focus on the environmental impact of their products.

Another recent range, the Alabasters, underscores their commitment to materiality. “We asked, ‘What can we do in addition to glass?’ We found this quarry in Spain and this related manufacturer. They transform alabaster into all kinds of shapes—now including these Trudon vessels.” Pruvost was drawn to the fact that alabaster is a historic material that runs through various ancient civilizations. Further, he adds, “It’s very touching to see this rock being morphed into a candle vessel. It’s very soft and easy to sculpt, yet fragile. You need to know what you’re doing.” As the material is also translucent, “it captures light in a very particular way. There’s a glow to the object that’s different than your usual candlelight. It’s simply beautiful.”

“When it comes to the Alabasters,” he continues, “the shape of one vessel is almost exactly the same as any other, but because you’re pulling this rock from the earth, there’s not one single part of the rock that’s similar. When there is a line of these vessels in the factory during production, it’s mesmerizing to see the various shades, some with spots.” They do utilize alabaster drawn from the same area for a vessel and its matching topper, however.

For the Alabaster line, Trudon launched with some of their signature scents and two exclusives to this range. For scent development, Pruvost develops a brief that includes everything from historic reference points to conceptual themes, sometimes astrological and other times mythological. “We are exploring a complex level of fragrance when it comes to our candles,” he says. “We trust our perfumers with these briefs and we push them further.”

Trudon’s latest release is a collaborative one, crafted in partnership with Olivier Rousteing, French fashion house Balmain’s creative director. Working with Trudon’s perfumers, Rousteing evolved the brand’s popular Ernesto scent, adding black rose to its cedar wood and cigar base. The striped glass container marries the aesthetics of both brands. Collaborations and creative advancements are key to the future of Trudon.

“I feel pressure to live up to certain achievements of the past,” Pruvost says. “During the 17th and 18th century, we were the royal wax manufacturers. Under Louis XIV, that’s when the idea of ‘luxury from craft brought to its epitome’ was born. We owe so much to that era and must pay tribute to this. To do so, we must continue to be the manufacturer of our products. We must strive to make the best products possible.” To nose any of Trudon’s fragrant wonders or simply to hold them reveals that Pruvost does not disappoint.

Hero image courtesy of Trudon