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ZGO, Candles - Retail, San Francisco, CA

Home > Rigaud Story
Rigud Candles History

Jean-Baptiste Rigaud, a great French perfumer of the 19th century

Following studies in chemistry in his native Auvergne, Jean-Baptiste Rigaud came to Paris in 1852 to experience his passion and reveal the artist within him.

He made his first steps in the Paris business milieu and in the world of perfumery with a renowned pharmacist, Monsieur Grimault.

With passion and determination, guided by his imagination, he resolved to travel the world in order to find new and undiscovered scents in exotic lands, soon realizing the fascination and the emotion these unexploited riches could awaken in Europe’s fine ladies.

Back in Paris at a time when the French aristocracy was experiencing a real infatuation with everything English, Jean-Baptiste Rigaud opened his perfumery in the rue Vivienne, under the name “Parfumerie Victoria” as a tribute to the Queen of England.

The names of the scents he purveyed to his clientele had a decidedly English sound: “Kiss Me Quick,” “Jockey Club,” “Bouquet Victoria.” He began what was to be a brilliant career by creating rare exotic perfumes, orienting his business along a hitherto unknown path.

He explained his approach in these terms: In founding a perfumery house, my aim was higher than simply to engage in the ordinary commerce of perfumery. (…) I therefore hit upon the idea that introducing a new aromatic plant would be like adding a new note to my keyboard, as it were, and that only on that condition would I be able to create new products bearing the stamp of originality.

Rigaud invents
scented candles

After the war, Henri Rigaud’s son Mario, the great-grandson of Jean-Baptiste, took over the company with his wife Viviane. She ran the Paris perfumery, which she turned into a veritable private salon, like a boudoir where a great lady receives her peers. A lover of homes and interior decoration, Viviane Rigaud was also an innovator. She was the creator of the first scented candle.

Viviane Rigaud – who came from a family of chemists – developed and patented an innovative wax formula. This was an original formula for a soft wax whose main characteristic was that it perfectly revealed the natural ingredients that make up the Rigaud perfumes and allowed them to be faithfully transmitted.

And that is how the Cyprès candle was born – dark green in color, presented in a container of hand-blown glass, tied with a red ribbon and with a silvered metal snuffer cap. The year was 1950, and the Rigaud Cyprès candle was an international success. The scent of the Rigaud candle soon became the height of chic in well-appointed homes, and even in the White House when Jacqueline Kennedy was its mistress.

Everyone was talking about Rigaud’s marvelous “Parfum Flamme.” The Cyprès scented candle has now become the universal standard for environmental fragrances.

Thus a whole new business, home fragrances, developed – a springboard for the ambition of the house of Rigaud to play on all the stops of the master perfumer’s organ to create subtle, refined compositions and offer exquisite luxury articles. Beginning in the 1970s, other creations – Cythère, Tournesol, Gardénia – were adding beauty to chic interiors the world over, and also became available in the form of fragrance sprays. The famous Rigaud candle, with its silver snuffer cap and delicately hand-knotted satin ribbon, was seen on the front pages of all the decorating magazines of the period.

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