For Cassandra Hall, a move to Spain has been the inspiration for a beautiful home fragrance brand, La Montaña, which transports us to that land of aromatic wonders with the flicker of a flame…
Some years ago, Cassandra left behind the dynamic world of beauty and fragrance PR for a quieter life in the Mediterranean. Some people might have switched off completely – but not Cass. Smells and aromas had always been a part of her life – and the air in her beautiful, white-painted Spanish village was filled with them. That inspired her to create La Montaña, a beautiful home fragrance collection, capturing the scents that surround Cassandra and her husband Jonathan in the place they now call home.
‘In 2011 we moved from London to a remote mountain village in Spain, in an attempt to slow life down and, quite literally, smell the coffee. Getting up at dawn to let the dogs out revealed a completely natural mountainside fragrance – one that was haunting and unique.’
Cass continues: ‘On our mountain, at first light, there’s a heavenly fragrance in the air. Before anyone starts an engine, or lights a fire, the air is clear, and still, and silent. The first breath of the day carries the perfume of wild mountain herbs: fennel, rosemary, mountain pepper and intoxicating rock rose. The alchemy of the fragrances, blended naturally on the breeze, weaves a magical spell. That was the inspiration for our first candle.’
After initial attempts to recreate it herself with essential oils, she turned to an expert, perfumer Marianne Martin, who has gone on to create further blends for what is now a line-up of nine stunning candles, each evoking the scents Cass encounters in her new life in Spain.
The second candle in the collection was Alfredo’s Café – and the hardest to get right. ’42 rejected efforts,’ recalls her business partner/husband Jonathan, ruefully. ‘But it was worth it. Alfredo’s is a real place: it’s our village bar, and café, and restaurant – and Alfredo and his wife Maria Carmen are the genial owners. The three key notes in Alfredo’s Café (the candle) are cornerstones of both Cass’s and my early memories of Spain: black tobacco, brandy and coffee.’
The opulent Sacred Roses, meanwhile, was born out of a visit to a local village on fiesta day. ‘The fiesta was one big street party, with stalls of food, beer and very happy people casting off the memory of winter.’ The town, Cass explains, has a famous monastery. As she walked inside with Jonathan, ‘I was aware of utter stillness, the dry coolness of the ancient walls and the oaky grandeur of the towering wooden doors, bordered by orange groves in bloom – swoon – and lavender growing at the base of the rose bushes. It was one of those sensory moments I’ll never forget, when even the sky seemed fragrant – and it couldn’t have been a more obvious inspiration for a candle. The name came to us there and then.’
The La Montaña collection is hand-poured by artisan candle-makers, with each full size candle featuring 220g of top quality wax, and burning for a generous 40 hours. Candle cognoscenti have taken to the whole La Montaña line-up, with its so-evocative names (and scents): Cloudburst, Fig Grove, Siesta, Winter Oranges and more. Discover votives and diffusers, too – and we can’t recommend too highly that you try them for yourself.
Just don’t blame us if they have you looking at Spanish estate agents, online, fantasizing about a whole new life on a remote mountaintop…