Kemp It Up



Readers know I’m a huge fan of the Botánica – the Spanish-Afro-Carribean beauty-health-spiritual wellness shops that are found in Latin and West Indian neighborhoods, where resources are scarce and superstition is about all you got.  I grew up with these stores and I still believe they offer the only perfumes and soaps any girl could ever need.  At the top of the list are Florida Water and Rose Cologne by Lanman & Kemp.  

Lanman & Kemp was established in 1808 by Robert Murray at No. 313 Pearl Street in New York City (a couple of blocks from our apartment!) and was renamed Lanman & Kemp in 1861.  They moved around a few times – from Pearl Street and to William Street to Water Street in 1900, finally ending up in Westwood, NJ.

Their marquee item – Florida Water – has been made famous around the globe for its host of personal and household uses.  No doubt this is what made it so popular among the Cubans; we are notorious for using Windex and Vicks as absolute cure-alls.  Florida Water is an astringent, a lotion, a deodorant, a shaving aid, an insect bite / headache / nervousness remedy, a salve for sore muscles, a room freshener, a conscience-clearer, and a hair tonic.  It also looks quite chic on your dresser or in your medicine cabinet!   Read the rest of this entry »


Pen Man



I’m typically into scents of the French and Indian varieties, but this British Isle jewel is what every American apothecary-come-lately wishes it was.

Founded in the late 1860’s by Royal Barber and Perfumer to Queen Victoria’s court, William Henry Penhaligon’s eponymous perfume house has been awarded Royal Warrants by her Majesty Queen Alexandra in 1903, His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh in 1956 and His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales in 1988.

Penhaligon’s, which once had famous customers including Oscar Wilde and Sir Winston Churchill, has had its ups and downs. The Great Depression forced the company out of business in the 1940’s but was resurrected in the 1970’s by fashion designer Sheila Pickles.

Penhaligon’s first fragrance, created in 1872, was named Hammam Bouqet in honor of the famous Turkish Baths in Jermyn Street, St. James. This scent remained the Penhaligon’s personal favorite and is still one of Penhaligon’s bestsellers. It was a favorite of Italian film directors Luchino Visconti and Franco Zeffirelli. Personally, Hammam falls into my top two with Bluebell, which the company describes perfectly: “Tremendously evocative of wet earth, moss and rain, it softly detonates across your scent receptors and instantly throws you into mythic woodland, surrounded by dripping leaves, skin tingling with spring.” Read the rest of this entry »

Halle Berry recently launched her new fragrance that was designed to bottle her earthy, sensual, sex-ooze. I was brought on to bring it to life for 50 top international journalists over a a luxurious four-hour luncheon. I hosted the event at my friend Karen Lashinsky’s magnificent West Village manse – with four spectacular floors dripping in exotic, ecclectic and expensive everything. I basically recreated Halle Berry as a landscape… Read the rest of this entry »

Perfectly Contained


Gorgeous, indulgent, and necessary additions to your medicine cabinet, the bath salts and home tonics by French perfumers Mad et Len are just as beautiful outside as in. In other words, they look delicious and smell rich. Available in-store at ABC Home. And no where else.

Cuban Aisle


I’m Cuban, and no matter how far I travel or what type of Bruni-vetted restaurant I try, nothing ever tastes better to me than some home cooked Cuban food (preferable made by made by a guy who looks like this.)

I recently made the mother of all discoveries. For a small delivery fee you can have a little Camaguey delivered straight to your door. At I can get everything from my grandmother’s churros to the Royal Violets baby cologne I love. You can even buy awesome La Lupe CD’s, Poetry by Martí, and vintage Cuban school yearbooks. Below, some greatest hits… Dale!

Six Scents


I am determined to figure out why these six scents have been selling out for over thirty years. I for one, am a lover of obscenely expensive fragrances that have a drugstore, old lady perfume quality. So I think I just might like these…

Enjoli (Because anything mauve is ok in my book)

Giorgio Beverly Hills (Apparently, ‘Beverly Hills in a Bottle” by the very great Fred Hayman.)

Jean Naté (My mother’s favorite. She still uses it before bed.)

Jontue (More mauve)

Jovan Musk (Just what is that little line over the “o”, anyway?)

L’Air du Temps (Cause who doesn’t need to own this bottle?)

Royall Family


My guy smells good. Really, really good. He smells better than any other man that’s ever been in the same room with me. I swear. Aside from his ridiculously sexy pheromones, which must be (on some weird primal mating level) insanely compatible with mine, he wears the hottest cologne ever – Royall Lyme. I can’t quite describe it except to say that it smells like somewhere you want to be and a memory that you want to have, mixed with an afternoon romp in the sand. The top notes are gin-sipping, aristocratic-islander-in-cricket-whites, with base notes of drunen-domino-playing-on-the-sidewalk and late-night-reggae-party-in-the-yard. It’s also incredibly democratic. It smells good on my me, on the kids, and even on the dog. The packaging is perfect as well – a custom molded green glass bottle, original kraft paper wrapping, and a wax seal. There are other delicious scents in the Royall portfolio including Royall Bay Rhum, Royall Muske, and Royall Spice, but for the sexiest scent left on his pillowcase the next morning, Royall Lyme takes it.

Royall Lyme Bermuda Limited