Boomtown Boudoir


Matthew Izzo Boy
December 15, 2007, 8:35 pm
Filed under: Perfume | Tags: , , ,

Matthew Izzo is the eponymous lifestyle store opened by a Philadelphia-based interior designer who has a refined taste for all things “cool.” The store sells things like skinny jeans, sleek sofas upholstered with tinsel-shot tweed, modern sculpture pieces that take the whole late-60’s Jetson’s aesthetic into the realm of a better, less kitschy future, and the even hippest haircuts in town in the tiny in-store salon. The kind of cool stuff that lets you know loud and clear when you’re not cool enough to buy it, a category in which I would include myself were it not for the huge wall of candles. This is a great comfort because nobody, I don’t care who you are, will ever not be cool enough for candles.

They are not cool things, candles. They are warm and inviting and cozy. At their coolest, they are an accent in a dark corner, suspended on some impossibly tall stilt or placed on a glass tray in the middle of a coffee table where they are never lit. At their least cool, they are the territory of frowsy spinsters who light as many of them at once as they can in order to romance their nine cats and dog-eared bodice-ripper collection. I personally fall somewhere in the middle, and this is only because I don’t have cats and read good books.

I think I discovered Matthew Izzo’s candles around this time last year, a time in my life when I was attempting to reclaim the word “spinster” as a positive self-identification. I painted myself as flamboyantly resigned to baking gourmet pastry and tatting lace, kicking boys out of my bed after their masculine duties were completed in order to spend some more quality time with my charmingly decorated one-bedroom apartment. As my friend Kendell pointed out shortly after last New Years’, I wasn’t really kidding anyone. But for awhile there, I really wanted, more than anything else, to at least affect some kind of purposeful contentment with my boyfriendless existence. Just because I was so tired of being sad about it.

My Matthew Izzo poison at that time was Boy. It wasn’t a real boy, but it was almost as satisfying. This candle was kind of thing I wanted to smell all the time, not just burning in the air but all over my skin, all over my clothes, all over my pillows, all over everything, constantly. I don’t know if Mr. Izzo himself sits down and invents the oil blends that scent the candles with his name on them, but I can imagine that however this blend was made, it was not by a sophisticated process. The other candles in the range, named after various Philadelphia hot spots like Rittenhouse Square, didn’t do much for me. And the scents have never been anywhere near consistent. When I first became interested in the Matthew Izzo range, most of them were simple, strongly-scented soliflores that, while pretty, were probably the result of someone pouring some outsourced oils into a vat of wax. Matthew Izzo’s candles are obviously a small, experimental operation. Boy, though… Boy is the one that Matthew Izzo got right the first time and continues to get right. I am obsessed.

It’s predominantly a true-to-life leather scent, the kind of leather that reminds me of going to a Wilson’s store in the mall in junior high and trying on the black leather bomber jackets. This is the same smell as a biker store, or a cowboy store, or dare I say, a leather-heavy gay bar minus the smoke and booze. The leather is balanced out with a smooth, unsweetened vanilla that gives the effect of being man enough to cry during sad movies. Then the whole thing is spiked with a fresh-from-the-barbershop splash of fizzy lime. The throw from even the $12 travel tin candle is enough to scent not only my apartment, but the entire hall of the building, for days. It’s glorious. I have never had a boyfriend quite as smooth yet rugged as Boy, and that’s probably a good thing. If there were a human equivalent of this candle, I would love him like a crazy girl and we’d both end up scarred for life.

Imagine my delight when I discovered that Matthew Izzo also puts Boy out in a fragrance oil, safe for use on the skin. I don’t know how one would obtain such a thing unless they lived in Philadelphia and could get to the store or emailed Mr. Izzo himself and begged for a special mail-order, but this addition to the candle line has certainly made me a happy, happy girl. I’m over rejecting the idea of actual, human intimacy at this point, but I’ll tell you this much: I will always consider spinsting it up in my apartment with Boy as time well spent. Whether it’s cool or not.

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