Valentine’s Day gifts: Candles with character, vintage cool, ever-chic chocolate

Want to get your Valentine’s Day shopping done early so you can ensure plenty of lounge-time this weekend? Here are a few ideas:

The Joe (shown here) and Kurt candles are top sellers.

Jason Linscott’s 2550° Artisanal Candles, launched late last year, are truly brilliant. These hand-blended  hand-poured creations offer fresh fragrances with unusual depth, and they are named after mysterious men – Joe, Kurt, Clive and Luc.

Though some might think of candles as a girly purchase, Linscott saw an opportunity to sell to men as well as women. Candlelight, he says, is nostalgic and appeals to anyone looking for an antidote to our fast-paced digital age.

“I’ve always been into candles,” says Linscott, a native of Northern Idaho who now lives in Portland, Ore. “They’re evocative of the past, of romance and shadowy evenings.”

Linscott called on his background in design and visual merchandising to create layered and complex fragrances – using scents such as a worn leather, whiskey, tobacco leaves, absinthe, dark chocolate, black tea, oakmoss and sea spray – that reflected aspects of his invented characters. “The idea was what that person’s home would be like and what it would smell like.”

The candles, $38-$45, are prepared using an all-natural, clean-burning soy wax base with botanical and fragrance oils. Packaging is fully recyclable; the glass containers and lids are intended for reuse as cocktail glasses or catch-alls.

Levis 501 Rough Rinse, 1944

Who among us owns enough pairs of jeans? Levi’s Vintage Clothing taps the brand’s history to capture the spirit of American workwear. The Levi’s archive dates to the 1870s and, says the company, each LVC garment faithfully reproduces the fits, fabrics and characteristics of a specific time period.

The ’40s and ’50s men’s jeans are great fun; and there’s much to choose from. There aren’t as many women’s styles, but a salesperson at a Levi’s store told me that more are in the works.

Take Man Du Jour shopping. If you don’t know his inseam measurement, now is the time to find out!

Founder Katrina Markoff started Vosges from her Chicago apartment in 1998.

Yes, red roses are a cliché, but chocolate’s always chic, especially when it’s from Katrina Markoff, founder of Vosges Haut-Chocolat.

Trained at Le Cordon Bleu, Markoff launched Vosges from the kitchen of her Chicago apartment in 1998, drawing inspiration from the cuisines of France, Spain, Italy, Thailand, Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, China, Australia and Hawaii. She now has boutiques in Chicago, New York, Las Vegas and Beverly Hills.

I remember eating Vosges in Chicago – try it and you will appreciate genius!

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