Valentino Inspired


Valentino: Mirabilia Romae by Photographer Laziz Hamani and Italian Art Curator Francesco Bonami, Hardcover in luxury slipcase, 400 pgs, 300 Illustrations, Published by Assouline, 2015.

Valentino: Mirabilia Romae brings readers into creative directors Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli’s extraordinary world of inspiration, revealing their vision of the Valentino woman, exploring the Eternal City that fuels their passion and creativity, and explaining their impact and contributions to fashion as creative artists. Original photography by Laziz Hamani includes Chiuri and Piccioli’s most beloved Roman landmarks plus the spectacular inspiration boards created for every collection and the intricate paper patterns constructed for each showstopping couture gown, carefully preserved in the house archives.


Valentino’s “Mirabilia Romae” Exhibition, Embroidered Evening Dress, Haute Couture, Palazzo Firenze, Galleria del Primaticcio, Courtesy of Valentino.

Since 2008, the renowned Italian fashion house of Valentino has been anchored by creative directors Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli, who have moved the house’s aesthetic forward with their contemporary feminine designs. Chiuri and Piccioli are two personalities with very different design viewpoints, yet they blend these contrasts into a timeless mélange of clean simplicity and modern elegance. One of Chiuri and Piccioli’s most profound inspirations is Rome itself, the Eternal City. Its seamless blend of ancient and modern, pagan and baroque, historic buildings and contemporary lifestyle reflects their own distinctive approach in which heritage, tradition, and innovation coexist to create a new concept of the house of Valentino. Available September 2015 at Valentino and Assouline boutiques worldwide. I ♥ Valentino.

On Gratitude


Quote by Marcel Proust, Illustrated by fine artist, illustrator and author Lisa Congdon who recently released her newest book Fortune Favors The Brave: 100 Courageous Quotations Hand-Lettered by Lisa Congdon. A masterpiece filled with uplifting reminders to seize the day, this sequel to Whatever You Are, Be A Good One demonstrates that when embarking on a new adventure, the right words of encouragement can be a priceless gift.

Art Of Scent

The art of blending plant, flower, seed, wood, resin, and oil essences into beautiful aromatic compositions is the art of Botanical Perfumery. The botanical perfumer focuses principally on aroma profile, essence quality, evocative narratives, and the beauty of scent. Natural perfumes have organic bases thus greater mutability for interacting with the oils and chemistry of the body. While a scent may be recognizable as Jasmine or Rose, this interaction produces an individualized scent as the aroma changes. Using a natural perfume reflects the way in which we honor ourselves by honoring the Earth.


Skin being our largest organ, it’s important to feed it with ingredients found in nature, not secret recipes full of toxic chemicals crafted in the laboratory. In the beginning history of perfume, fragrances were made of the most precious and prized natural ingredients. Nature is a far superior scent source than the lab. ‘Organic’ takes fragrances one step further and avoids the chemicals and poisonous pesticides used in non-organic farming. Scent has a profound impact on our lives. Smell is one of our strongest senses, with the power to evoke different states of mind, and to change our mood. With beneficial ingredients, natural fragrances provide therapeutic aspects that promote health and well-being that synthetic fragrances do not. Here are some extraordinary perfumes that conjure garden scents as Summer begins to fade into Fall. Each one categorically unique and handcrafted in small batches with depth and complexity. Botanical Perfumery at its best.


Essence of Vali Signature Scent Botanical Perfume Oil, An award-winning aroma that is a rich and sensual warm floral with a burst of citrus sunshine, due to the uplifting aromatherapeutic quality of the essential oil, Litsea Cubeba. Perfume includes 100% pesticide free Jojoba, essential oils of Lavender, Cedarwood, Rosewood, Patchouli, Palmarosa, Geranium, Clove and Litsea Cubeba. New York-based Essence of Vali founded by aromatherapist and healing synergist Valerie Bennis, manufactures 100% natural, therapeutic products with plant essences inspiring people to love themselves, improve their health, and experience a whole new way of life, with ten healing blends plus a signature scent. Products that are known for their natural fragrance, effectiveness and unisex appeal.


kō denmark Jasmine + Neroli Organic Perfume Oil, From the boutique beauty-brand with European roots comes this intoxicating organic Jasmine + Neroli roll on perfume that lingers on skin and positively alters your mood. Simply divine. Its Danish roots are evident with highly functional, effective and 100% simple and portable packaging great for on-the-go application and travel. kō denmark creator and founder Henriette Holst uses only pure oils from two of the world’s most expensive flowers -Jasmine and Neroli, for her unique, organic beauty line, free from artificial fragrances or preservatives. These flower oils bring moisture to the skin, while their aromatic synergy offers relief from stress and makes you feel just beautiful.


Lina Hanson SATORI Perfume,When natural beauty entrepreneur and celebrity makeup artist Lina Hanson wanted to create a perfume oil to add to her brand -founded on the belief in global beauty, she knew exactly where to look for inspiration and ingredients. Her goal “was to create a perfume that evokes the beauty of the landscape and culture of the Far East. An elegant, sexy and unique scent that transports you to the most exotic and remote areas of Thailand, Japan, and China.” The result of Lina’s journey to the Far East is SATORI, an uplifting and invigorating scent that awakens the senses with warm Vanilla, grounding Sandalwood, and notes of crisp and refreshing Yuzu and Ginger. SATORI comes in a small jute pouch handmade by artisans in India. Truly beautiful and inspiring, much like its creatrix.


VERED Organic Botanicals Blue Violet Perfume, This unique perfume has a rare green earthy floral overtone, combined with a dry floral aphrodisiac Jasmine Sambac and the fresh citrus aroma of the Japanese Yuzu. The right mix of ancient and modern, with an ability to touch the soul and balance the mind, and shine. VERED is an organic skin and body care line integrating therapeutic botanical essential oils that are 100% chemical and preservative free. Within the line are three perfumes, Blue Violet, Deep Citrine, and the VERED Signature Scent, each deeply beautiful and good for the body, mind, and spirit. Creator Vered Back is a master esthetician and herbalist who brings the combined experience of integrating holistic modalities such as phytotherapy, medicinal plant research, skilled esthetician expertise, extensive bodywork and aromatherapy to the brand. Hand-made with love in small batches in NYC.


Lotus Wei Infinite Love Perfume, Lotus Wei promotes ‘flower alchemy,’ a way of receiving the nourishing properties of plants through pure flower essences, suspended in water -liquid energy that transforms your mood and your mind through your acupuncture meridians. The brand makes six varieties of flower essences: Joy Juice, Infinite Love, Pure Energy, Inspired Action, Quiet Mind, and Inner Peace. Each comes in four formulas: an elixir that is taken orally, a serum that’s applied to pulse points, an energy mist, and a transformative perfume. A favorite in the Katie Hess Lotus Wei line, Infinite love Perfume helps you to experience unconditional love for yourself and others, attract love and affection, and enhances magnetism, attractiveness, and charisma, and magnifies gentleness, compassion, softness and receptivity, with an effervescent burst of Honey Citrus Floral aroma -Exquisite Rose, Red Mandarin and Honey. For every mood + feeling, there is a flower. Choose a flower and change your life.


Sarabecca Day and Night Natural Eau de Parfum, Charming and romantic, housed in light-filled artistic glass, Sarabecca, created from only plant essences, natural oils and extracts, comes in two distinctly beautiful sister scents, Day and Night. Day Sarabecca is an exquisitely fresh white floral blend with subtle notes of Jasmine, Tuberose and Muguet. Night Sarabecca is an alluring aroma of Vetiver, Patchouli and Amber with highlights of Bergamot, Lemon, Ginger and Sage. Lively, lovely and lasting.  Sarabecca Natural Perfume -an artisan craft perfumery creating truly natural prestige fragrances in a workshop in Montecito California, is founded by Ken Grand and named after his daughters, Sara and Rebecca. Grand also founded Alba Botanica, and is the current owner and president of Earth Science Naturals.


Aftelier Perfumes Honey Blossom Eau De Parfume, Honey Blossom is a dreamy floral fragrance with top notes of Mimosa and Lime -Linden Blossom, middle notes of Orange Blossom and Honeysuckle, and base notes of Ambergris and Benzoin. Honey Blossom is smooth, sweet and delectable, and somehow finds that ‘perfect’ Honey note. Like a wave of warm Honey and White Jasmine petals, its effect is simply bottled Summer magic. There is true beauty and sophistication in Mandy Aftel -perfumer extraordinaire, compositions which have an interesting development and strong character. Some are polished interpretations reminiscent of classical French grand parfums like Lumière, others are fascinating and original like Palimpsest. Inspired with deep knowledge in her Berkeley California-based studio Aftelier-a recognized authority in Natural Perfume, Aftel hopes her essences will create an aesthetic experience of luxury and well-being in the wearer.


Fragrant: The Secret Life of Scent by Mandy Aftel, Mandy Aftel is widely acclaimed as a trailblazer in natural perfumery. Over two decades of sourcing the finest aromatic ingredients from all over the world and creating artisanal fragrances, she has been an evangelist for the transformative power of scent. In Fragrant, through five major players in the epic of aroma, she explores the profound connection between our sense of smell and the appetites that move us, give us pleasure, make us fully alive. Cinnamon, queen of the Spice Route, touches our hunger for the unknown, the exotic, the luxurious. Mint, homegrown the world over, speaks to our affinity for the familiar, the native, the authentic. Frankincense, an ancient incense ingredient, taps into our longing for transcendence, while Ambergris embodies our unquenchable curiosity. And exquisite Jasmine exemplifies our yearning for beauty, both evanescent and enduring.

In addition to providing a fascinating initiation into the history, natural history, and philosophy of scent, Fragrant imparts the essentials of scent literacy and includes recipes for easy-to-make fragrances and edible, drinkable, and useful concoctions that reveal the imaginative possibilities of creating with, and reveling in, aroma. Vintage line drawings make for a volume that will be a treasured gift as well as a great read.


The Fragrant Companion Kit, Created by Aftel to allow you to “smell along” as you read about Fragrant’s main characters Cinnamon, Mint, Frankincense, Ambergris, and Jasmine. The Cinnamon and Mint essential oils are not for wearing, but can be used in food by diluting them. The Frankincense resin can be rubbed between your fingers to release its fragrance, and along with the diluted Ambergris and Jasmine tinctures can be worn directly on your skin -layer them to create your own perfume.

New Moon

A new moon teaches gradualness and deliberation and how one gives birth to oneself slowly. Patience with small details makes perfect a large work, like the universe. ~Rumi


New Moon In Leo 14 August, 2015, A roaring New Moon in Leo is upon us sparking creativity and originality and igniting our passions with soul aligned purpose. When the Sun, Moon, and Venus are coupled in Leo, you are encouraged to be a powerful creator. Be unique. Be who-you-really-are. Be yourself. Come from your heart. Be love.

World Elephant Day

Today is World Elephant Day, launched in 2012 to bring attention to the urgent plight of Asian and African Elephants. The Elephant is loved, revered and respected by people and cultures around the world, yet we balance on the brink of seeing the last of this magnificent creature.


Nick Brandt, Elephant with Baby on Ground, Amboseli 2012, @ Nick Brandt Courtesy of Atlas Gallery, London. From the completion of Nick Brandt’s trilogy: On This Earth, A Shadow Falls, Across the Ravaged Land, (Abrams Books, 2013), which documents the disappearing natural world and animals of East Africa. The third and final volume of Brandt’s trilogy reveals the darker side of his vision of East Africa’s animal kingdom and the juxtaposition of mankind.


Nick Brandt, Ranger With Tusks Of Killed Elephant, Amboseli 2011, @ Nick Brandt Courtesy of Atlas Gallery, London. From On This Earth, A Shadow Falls, Across the Ravaged Land, (Abrams Books, 2013). Brandt’s powerful photos of animals in all their majesty continue to resonate with human sentiment, as there is immense beauty with a sense of tragedy and destruction in many of the images.

The escalation of poaching, habitat loss, human-elephant conflict and mistreatment in captivity are just some of the threats to both African and Asian Elephants. Working towards better protection for wild Elephants, improving enforcement policies to prevent the illegal poaching and trade of ivory, conserving Elephant habitats, better treatment for captive Elephants and, when appropriate, reintroducing captive Elephants into natural, protected sanctuaries are the goals that numerous Elephant conservation organizations are focusing on around the world.


World Elephant Day asks you to experience Elephants in non-exploitive and sustainable environments where Elephants can thrive under care and protection. On World Elephant Day, express your concern, share your knowledge and support solutions for the better care of captive and wild Elephants alike.


Two incredible organizations doing important work are photographer Nick Brandt and conservationist Richard Bonham’s Big Life Foundation and The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust -both dedicated to the protection and preservation of Africa’s Wilderness and its denizens, particularly endangered species such as Elephants. Using innovative conservation strategies to address the greatest threats, reduce the loss of wildlife to poaching, defeat the ivory trade, mitigate human-wildlife conflict, protect the great predators, and manage scarce and fragile natural resources.


Song Of Summer


“Today I walked on the lion-coloured hills with only cypresses for company, until the sunset caught me, turned the brush to copper, set the clouds to one great roof of flame above the earth, so that I walk through fire, beneath fire, and all in beauty.
Being alone I could not be alone, but felt (closer than flesh) the presence of those who once had burned in such transfigurations. My happiness ran through the centuries in one continual brightness. Looking down, I saw the earth beneath me like a rose petaled with mountains, fragrant with deep peace.”
~ Elizabeth Coatsworth,
On the Hills

Rose + Cardamom


Coconut Rose + Cardamom Homemade Vegan Ice Cream, It’s Summertime, which means ice cream is on the menu! Making your own may seem like a tedious task, but homemade always tastes better, and it’s not as hard as you may think. This ice cream is a refreshing, elegant Summer weekend treat with nutritional value, worth making. Coconut milk is a healthy alternative for people who avoid dairy and soy. Its full of easily digestible fats, fiber, B vitamins and minerals like magnesium and iron. Skip the processed sugar and sweeten your ice cream with pure maple syrup which contains minerals that act as antioxidants in the body. Cardamom, the Queen of Spices in Indian cuisine, with its unique, warm and complex flavor, among many other benefits, helps improve digestion. And Roses being both beautiful and aromatic, add healing properties. Beautifully Delicious!


  • 2- 13.5 oz. cans of organic coconut milk
  • ½ cup organic almond or cashew milk
  • ¾ cup maple syrup (or raw honey)
  • 8-10 cardamom seed pods, crushed
  • 3 Tbsp. beet juice (for coloring)
  • 1 vanilla bean, split
  • 1-2 Tbsp. food grade rosewater
  • ½ tsp. sea salt


Infuse the coconut milk~
Add coconut milk, maple syrup, crushed cardamom seeds, vanilla bean and salt to a saucepan over medium heat, stirring mixture every few minutes to insure there is no scalding. When pot begins to simmer remove from heat and allow to steep for 20 minutes.

Freeze the mixture~
Strain the infused coconut milk to remove vanilla bean and pods, and then add in the rosewater and beet juice for coloring. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and pour mixture in. This will allow the coconut milk to freeze into a thin layer, and make it easier to remove and cut up into chunks for blending.

Blend the ice cream~
Remove from freezer and cut up into chunks just big enough to fit into your food processor or blender. Add nut milk to your frozen ice cream and blend until creamy and smooth.

Garnish with crushed pistachios or cacao nibs, and top with fresh rose petal. Relax & Enjoy!


Be sure to use food grade/organic rosewater and rose petals. And the beet juice can be adjusted to achieve whatever rose petal hue desired.

Global Tiger Day


International Tiger Day, also known as Global Tiger Day, is an annual celebration to raise awareness for Tiger conservation, held on 29 July. Created in 2010 at the Saint Petersburg Tiger Summit in Russia, the goal of International Tiger Day is to promote a global system for protecting the natural habitats of Tigers and to raise public awareness of, and support for, Tiger conservation efforts. Tigers have been enigmatic symbols of power, beauty, stealth, strength and survival in Asian cultures and the wilderness for centuries. Even though the Tiger is revered as one of the most fabulous beasts it is also extremely endangered. Conservation efforts are critical, say scientists, because Tiger populations have undergone a steep decline over the past century. A worldwide population of 100,000 wild Tiger at the turn of the 20th Century saw it decimated to just over 3,000 today, occupying just 7% of their historic range. Loss of habitat and poaching being the main reasons. #endangeredspecies


You might think that as an individual you are unable to really make a difference to help endangered species, but that is not true. There are simple things you can start doing today to help like purchasing products that donate portions of the proceeds to conservation organizations and efforts, you can change your consumption habits to benefit endangered species, or join a wildlife conservation organization in their mission by taking action or getting involved in other ways. Here are seven great organizations fighting to protect endangered species and their natural habitats. #turnthetide


Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

International Fund For Animal Welfare

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

Big Life Foundation

Defenders of Wildlife

World Wildlife Fund

Lotus Love Beauty


Ayurveda enhances health by creating a balance of mind, body, and spirit. One of the chief components of Ayurvedic therapy is Ayurvedic massage -a daily ritual for many which incorporates a full face and body massage into their daily self-care routines using organic oils. There is no greater expression of self-love than lovingly anointing ourselves from head to toe with warm oil -this practice is called ‘Abhyanga.’ The Sanskrit word ‘Sneha’ can be translated as both “oil” and “love.” It is believed that the effects of Abhyanga are similar to those received when one is saturated with love. Like the experience of being loved, Abhyanga can offer a deep feeling of stability and warmth.


A daily Abyanga practice restores the balance of the doshas and enhances well-being and longevity. Regular Abyanga is especially grounding and relaxing for imbalances, but everyone can benefit from this practice. Massage the entire body. Start with the scalp, ears, face and neck. Then, move to the shoulders, arms and hands, and the front and back of torso. End with the legs and feet, letting the oil penetrate and absorbing the effect of the massage. Even just a few simple strokes will feel good and be of benefit, and can make all the difference in the world for both the skin and spirit.


Enjoy the feeling of having nourished your body, mind, and spirit and carry that with you throughout your day with these extraordinary oils from founder-driven indie beauty brands that lean clean and embody integrity, passion and spirit. Companies that tell a story, and care about ingredients, product purity, efficacy, and artisanship. These oils made with love, are those that I use and recommend to incorporate into any daily self-love ritual. Love for luminous skin head to toe.


Solavedi Organics Carrot Rose Cleansing Oil, Cleansing is both the start of a new day and the washing away of the old. Cleansing should leave your skin feeling soft, breathable, and ready to receive nourishments that follow. According to the rejuvenation therapies of Ayurveda, our cleansing needs vary from day to day, season to season, and person to person. Cleansing with oil is one of nature’s finest cleansers. Carrot Rose Cleansing Oil, highly nourishing, packed with organic, bioavailable flowerpetal and essential nutritive compounds, softens the skin, and gently but effectively unclogs pores and helps to soothe sensitive skin, while coaxing it to self-regulate. This, and Solavedi’s Honey Blossom Facial Wash, used separately or combined, are just incredible. Triple-infused botanicals for the skin and senses. Solavedi Organics Founder Carollanne Crichton is a well-respected New England-based massage therapist, Ayurvedic practitioner and yoga instructor. In support of her practice and belief in the power of nature to promote good health and great food for the skin and soul, she was motivated to craft her own extensive line of Ayurvedic skincare and spa nourishments free of toxic chemical preservatives, synthetic additives, parabens, phthalates, artificial fragrances or dyes. All of her products are artfully made on-site at Solavedi Organics.


KYPRIS Beauty Elixirs, Highly concentrated facial oils nourish and protect the skin, adding powerful vitamins and antioxidants. They are more potent thus hydrating than a moisturizer and, despite their texture, absorb quickly. Most importantly, they are incredibly effective at treating a wide range of complexion issues, everything from dry skin to hyperpigmentation to acne. KYPRIS is a tightly curated, quality-controlled, holistic beauty line that epitomizes ‘slow beauty,’ made up of elegant formulations to suit distinct skin type and aromatherapeutic preference, packaged in beautiful art nouveau inspired glass bottles. Beauty Elixir II Healing Bouquet, ‘Flower Power’ for combination skin, is my holy grail for balanced, beautiful skin. Simply divine. A 100% active formula with free radical-quenching CoQ10, collagen-inspiring Vitamin C, and a rainbow of phytonutrients, essential fatty acids, and natural actives from select plant sources to continually calm, soothe, and inspire radiant, supple skin. Especially beneficial for essential oil lovers with combination or fussy skin. This special line is brought to life by the goddess creatrix Chase Polan, whose grounding ethos, beauty with a soul supported by science, manifests with purely magical results.


SUNDÃRI Chamomile Eye Oil, This penetrating oil smooths and replenishes delicate skin around eyes naturally. Healing Chamomilla Recutita Flower Oil and emollient Avocado Oil nourish and soften skin. And natural antioxidants, Vitamins A & E help reduce the appearance of fine lines. SUNDÃRI’s signature product with cult-like status, for good reason. Imagine a skin care line that embodies a mind-body-soul philosophy to bring harmony to your skin. SUNDÃRI which means ‘beautiful woman’ in Sanskrit, offers a unique system of natural Ayurvedic based skin care products to address imbalances that blends modern science for immediate results with botanicals known through ancient wisdom. Co-founded by devotee of Ayurveda and avid practitioner of yoga, global philanthropist and model, Christy Turlington Burns hopes to help women discover truly beautiful skin, the Ayurvedic way. Safe for sensitive types, SUNDÃRI skincare is an excellent choice for those looking for natural and balanced solutions to skincare maintenance.


Kumari Luxury Oil Therapy, Inspired by founder, Aarti Gala’s Indian heritage and a sweet beauty ritual passed down from her mother, she designed a hair oil treatment that combines the benefits of organic Coconut, Grapeseed and Argan Oils. This nutrient-rich oil blend is infused with botanicals like Yerba de Tago and Indian Sarsaparilla to stimulate and deeply nourish the scalp and hair, with Kumari’s signature intoxicatingly aromatic Magnolia and Sandalwood fragrance. Kumari Luxury Oil Treatment is a pre-shampoo treatment, that can also be worn overnight, once a week, for increased beautifying results. Whether you’re a man or woman, with curly or straight hair, thin or coarse, hair oils are an amazing and therapeutic way to keep your hair super shiny, strengthened, really healthy and vibrant from the inside, out.


Lina Hanson Global Body Serum, This luxurious, hand blended mix of nutritive oils was created by Swedish-born beauty and makeup artist Lina Hanson following the great success of her Global Face Serum -which too, is pretty fabulous. Her 100% natural skin care products work for everyone, no matter the age, skin-type or ethnicity. A golden-hued earthy oil that includes ten of the most beneficial oils for the skin, which are sourced by Lina Hanson from all over the world -Rice Bran, Apricot Kernel, Argan Nut, Yuzu, Vanilla, Camellia Seed, Brazil Nut, Pumpkin Seed, Pink Grapefruit, and Avocado. Each ingredient used is sustainable, ethically sourced, and certified organic. This symphony of precious oils combine to deliver one healthy dose of hydration that absorbs quickly and creates an undeniable glow. Additionally it has a bright earthy scent that uplifts mood, relieves anxiety and promotes a sense of positive well-being. Light, yet lush, silky and long-lasting. The Global Serums are a must have, for their overall message of global celebration, sustainable sourcing and handcrafted artistry, and ability to help transport us to feeling beautiful, and loved.

A day in the life of Lina Hanson Global Beauty –video she recently shot for The Grind with Said Who? Productions.