Let Them Have Couture

Balenciaga’s latest experiment attempts to open up the mysterious world of Parisian haute couture.

PARIS — I spent quite a long time sniffing the candle, twisting the mirrored jar around in my hands and tilting my head, as if inhaling from different angles might yield new discoveries.

I was probing for smells I’d read about earlier that day, in a news release from Balenciaga about the candle. The list included “hints of burnt incense, tobacco smoke, warm skin, old paper, tanned leather, aged wool, delicate silk, exotic fur, oak and even the oiled metal of sewing machines” — all scents that had apparently been extracted from the walls of the Balenciaga

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