BEIRUT: “I’m marvelous, I’m marvelous, I’m marvellooouss,” Lady Gaga’s voice crooned over on the Four Seasons’ luxury rooftop lounge. Watching the sunset from the pinnacle of Beirut, the guests at Toni Breiss’ candle launch seemed to be thinking the same thing. Members of the media and friends of the event organizer enjoyed canapés and cocktails while watching the poor souls stuck in rush-hour traffic 26 floors below.
Waiters carted around trays of salmon and tomato-mozzarella skewers, which guests enjoyed only after having their photo taken with Breiss.
After enjoying their paparazzi moment, however fleeting, partygoers were greeted by a brunette polyglot who explained the amalgam of scents in each candle. Essences of patchouli, rose, vanilla and jasmine wafted from the glass vials she eagerly proffered.
In fact, upon closer inspection, it became clear that the whole event was candle themed. Melting wax dripped onto an ice sculpture; as the sky grew dark, two flames were lit and sent floating on the adjacent swimming pool; and behind a glass display case atop a table, an apparently nude young woman was lying beneath a mountain of wax and lit candlesticks. A smile and a coy twist of the iris in her hair confirmed that this lady candelabra was, in fact, among the living.
“Actually you know what, I just woke up one morning and I said, like, ‘Why don’t I do a candle?’” Breiss said of the project’s creation.
His vision, however, is focused: “I wanted people to take something like the magic I do in my events, to take something home from me and from who I am.”
After connecting with a scent-maker in Paris, the idea took form. From this effort, two deluxe candles were born: “ambre noir” and “coeur de pivoine.”
The black-and-white candle box represents the designer’s signature style.
“I’ve always been a black and white guy,” Tony said, patting into place a single mutinous hair.
“The black is chic, the white is clear, and the combination of both is really contemporary yet mysterious.”
Ali Jaffal, who works with Breiss, divulged that the designer was in the process of developing several other “olfactory decoration” items.
“He’s working on many other projects: sprays, atomizers, incense,” he said. Shifting his stance, the golden spurs of Jaffal’s black-leather shoes became visible, as did his bird-feather bow tie with gold-paint embellishment.
Along with the candles, Toni’s forthcoming creations will create “ambiance in the toilet and the house,” Jaffal said.
With the sun fully set and the champagne flowing, the early autumn evening turned gusty, constantly snuffing the candles beneath which the live model was sprawled. A hapless waiter had been assigned the near impossible task of keeping the flames lit and, after each breath of wind, rushed to the display with a blowtorch. Amid his frantic efforts the doe-eyed flambeau continued her coquettish display.
Standing at the center of this extravagant scene, Breiss said that he, like others, was concerned about the country’s economic future.
“I hope the country will get better and better,” he sighed.
“But we have to believe,” he said, surveying with delight the success of his latest fete.