Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Tea, with a Twist

Sarah Ferguson, photographed by Brian Aris

This April, Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, and partner Slatkin & Co. will launch a line of tea-scented candles with American retailer, Bath and Body Works. The candles will only be available in US shops, as an agreement with the Royal Family bars the Duchess from any commercial ventures in the UK, though its likely Brits will eventually be able to purchase the products online.

This winter Harry Slatkin, founder and president of Slatkin & Co., hosted a tea party at Manhattan's Lowell Hotel to introduce the line. A few, rare images of the soon-to-be released candles courtesy of the New York Social Diary:

Scented candles are the first major step into the Duchess's new luxury-home goods venture, Duchess Originals, which will shortly include a line of linens and silverware. The brand name is a cheeky play Prince Charles's Duchy Originals, a collection of organic goodies and gardening items. The Duchess's holding company, which will oversee Duchess Originals as well as her books and jewelry line, is to be called Hartmoor, named after her historical-romance novel due out in 2008. Its an unexpected (and probably genius) Barbara Cartland-meets-Martha Stewart turn for the one-time contender to the throne. Who needs a hefty divorce settlement when you've got a glorious head of red hair and your own royal lineage? (The crest on the tea canister-shaped candles pays homage to the heraldry of her maternal line.)

The candles, inspired by the idea of a traditional high tea, will be available in five scents: Bergamot Tea (Royalty), Rose Ginger Tea (Honesty), Mandarin Green Tea (Dignity), White Tea Ginger (Loyalty), and Green Tea & Mint Leaves (Tranquility). The names associated with each scent are also a bit cheeky, but true to the Duchess's plain-spoken approach. Each candle, packaged to resemble a tea canister, will retail for $16.50, or a boxed set can be purchased for $49.50. Its not a limited edition affair, as was the Slatkin-produced Elton John candle that Bath and Body Works retailed for $250 in support of John's aids foundation, but the volume of sales in this instance is sure to make it a profitable endeavor.

Elton John's prettily-packaged Fireside candle, designed by the legendary musician himself.

The Sarah Ferguson Foundation, established in New York last year, will receive all proceeds from the Duchess's portion of the sales. According to their website,, the foundation is “dedicated to making a difference in the lives of families and children throughout the world" and their sole purpose will be the management of funds generated by the Duchess's ventures. The foundation "adheres to the founding principles of Children in Crisis (CiC), the London-based international charity founded in 1993 by The Duchess of York to alleviate suffering and create opportunities for the world's forgotten children."

Its an ideal cause, so easy - and enjoyable - to support.

For more information on Duchess Originals and the foundation's work, visit the website (above); for information on the candles, keep an eye on for the official launch at the end of April.

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