luxury · beauty

Review: Roja Parfums Gulf Collection Perfumes

One of my friends – a stylish globetrotter with impeccable taste – encouraged me to try some luxurious perfumes that she adores. As a self-professed perfume fanatic, and a lover of all things luxury, I was up to the challenge. I was excited to try something new!

The perfumer she recommended, Roja Parfums, has sumptuous scents that are highly concentrated and intoxicating. I purchased a sample set from Lucky Scent, featuring a collection of fragrances inspired by the aromas of the Gulf region. The Gulf Collection has six scents, each named after a different Middle Eastern/Gulf-area country: the Kingdom of Bahrain, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, the Sultanate of Oman, and United Arab Emirates. The scents all contain oud and are described as orientals due to their spicy aroma.


My samples from Lucky Scent

You can feel free to click on the country names above to get the scent profiles for each of the fragrances, because listing out all of notes would take FOREVER! My personal favorite was the Kingdom of Bahrain: it has citrusy top notes (including lemon and lime) but a vanilla and leather base note that are warm, sensual and erotic. I have to apply carefully during the daytime, since the scent is sexy and tends to be better suited for the evening.


Photo of The Kingdom of Bahrain, from the Roja Parfums website

These are among some of the priciest perfumes on the market, costing more than $500 for a 50mL bottle. But the smaller atomizers are more affordable, at approximately $80 each. The fragrances are concentrated enough that even a small amount should last for quite some time. You definitely get value for your money!

Any other perfume addicts out there? Let me know about some of your favorite brands in the comments below!

beauty · luxury

Glass Skin Challenge – Updates

So I’m 15 days into my Glass Skin challenge, and yes, I have updates.


(from Pinterest, courtesy of Getty Images)

For starters, keeping up with the routine is MUCH easier than I anticipated. I did, however, make a few modifications.

For Step 6: Serum/Booster/Ampoule, I added a benzoyl peroxide cream along with my serums. I’m currently bouncing between Oxy Maximum Action Spot Treatment and Mary Kay’s Clearproof Acne Treatment Gel. I apply both in a thin layer all over my face, right after I apply my Niacinamide but before I apply the Buffet serum. I apply the benzoyl peroxide cream every time I cleanse (morning and night).

I’ve done the mask consistently two times per week, and I’ve noticed that my skin really enjoys the extra moisture. Also, I decided to forgo the Mary Kay Firming Eye Cream. Instead, I’ve been using Mary Kay Indulge Soothing Eye Gel, with a layer of The Body Shop’s Smoothing Night Cream on top on the eye area only.

I’m saving the photos for the end of the month, but let me just say, I’ve been LOVING the results so far! I’m looking radiant and even, and I’ve been skipping foundation on most days. When I do decide to use foundation, I need so little of it. I’m delighted with how things are going!



art · luxury

Art Collectors Conundrum: Culture Clash

As explained in previous posts, Art Collectors Conundrum explores the current issues surrounding art collecting. There are a lot of different issues that impact new collectors as they journey into the art world, and one of those big issues is the dissonance that exists between aesthetic indulgences and minimalist ideals.

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Betye Saar, Blow Top Blues, The Fire Next Time (1998)

The thing is, the culture of today’s wealthy – especially wealthy millenials – leans more toward minimalism and less toward acquisition of material goods. Any time spent on social media will confirm the “shift” from a culture of excess to one of spartan decorating practices. Many millenials favor the bare walls and monochrome decor that makes for clear, appealing Instagram photos. And, if they select art, the art often lacks the color, texture and excitement that used to be favored by collectors.


Betye Saar, Indigo Mercy (1975)

In short, this cultural clash results in fewer “new” big spenders. Bloomberg wrote about the “new elite” and their artistic tastes. The article points out that location has much to do with the cultural difference, too: East Coast “new money” tends to buy art in the more traditional fashion, while West Coast “new money” isn’t as interested in purchasing pricey art “for arts’ sake”.

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Betye Saar, Twilight Awakening (1978)

The key to luring in these potential art investors isn’t as simple as one would think. The most important thing to remember about the new wealthy is that they are earning their fortunes much earlier than the wealthy of previous generations. They just aren’t as likely to be focused on art collecting if they are buying their first homes and starting families.

An interesting way to get the new wealthy interested in collecting could be an art loan program, which allows them to enjoy works for a fixed period of time and then they can purchase the work if they want, or turn it back over to the gallery to “try out” something different. It isn’t a perfect solution but it would provide them with some exposure to fine art and would help them hone in on their personal tastes and preferences.

Those are some of my thoughts on overcoming the dissonance between minimalist goals and owning art. What are your thoughts? Feel free to share your comments below!

(all art by Betye Saar and in the National Gallery of Arts collections)

beauty · luxury

March Beauty Challenge: Glass Skin

I don’t spend a lot of time talking about my skin care routine on this blog because, well, there’s a lot more to life than beauty stuff. But I recently saw a post about a woman that had “glass skin”: skin so flawless that it looked shiny and smooth like glass. And, I was intrigued by what could create such a perfect, poreless complexion. After reading the post and comparing the “glass skin” routine to the Korean 10 step product routine, I decided that I would do a “glass skin” challenge during the month of March.

My skin is combination and can be sensitive at times. This routine will (hopefully!) help nourish my post-winter complexion and give me the kind of skin that looks perfect without makeup.


The goal is to look as gorgeous as Kezia by the end of the month (photo courtesy of D’Journae)

The ten steps as outlined by Self magazine are as follows, and the products I’ll be using for each step are also listed:

  • Oil cleanser (to remove makeup): food grade coconut oil
  • Foam cleanser: Mary Kay 3-in-1 Cleanser (for combination/oily skin)
  • Exfoliant (advised for 1 – 3 times week use): Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Ultra Gentle Daily Peel for Sensitive Skin (I’ll use this one daily, as it’s gentle)
  • Toner: Caudalie Grape Water
  • Essence: SCINIC First Treatment Essence
  • Serum/booster/ampoule: The Ordinary Niacinamide and “Buffet” serums, Mary Kay Timewise Night Solution
  • Mask (1 – 2 times per week): Mary Kay Moisture Renewing Gel Mask
  • Eye cream: Mary Kay Firming Eye Cream
  • Face cream: Mary Kay Age Fighting Moisturizer (for combination/oily skin)
  • SPF: Mary Kay Timewise Day Solution

Whew, so many products! I currently use anywhere from 4-7 products per cleansing session, but adding these additional products will be new for me. To be fair, some of these will only be used once or twice a week, or only once a day, so, while the list looks long, not every product will be used twice a day.



luxury · reading list

A Bibliophile’s Dream . . .

I don’t often discuss auction houses outside of Christie’s or Sotheby’s auctions. These two entities usually feature more of the items that interest me personally. However, I regularly peruse some of the other big names in the auction world because, well, you never know when you’ll come across a gem of a sale.

I was delighted to see that Bonhams is having an Extraordinary Books and Manuscripts auction in just a few days (March 9). This sale will have all sorts of rare books, manuscripts, and other miscellaneous written material. One item that I found particularly interesting is a letter autographed by Alexander Hamilton. Given the resurgence of interest in Hamilton (we can thank the stageplay Hamilton for that), I expect that this memorabilia will go for much more than the estimated $10-15,000 USD.


Hamilton’s letter

Two more items of interest to me are a violin owned by, and a letter written and signed by, Albert Einstein. I find Einstein fascinating and I would love to own some memorabilia. These items are expected to fetch between $100,000 and $150,000 each, and I can see them easily going for more than that. I’m sure the lucky winner will treasure these items tremendously.

Einstein’s violin and autographed letter

The auction will happen at Bonhams’ Madison Avenue location in  New York City, USA. If you are a collector of rare books, you won’t want to miss this event!

hollywood glamour · luxury

Baubles, Hollywood Style Part Deux

Not too long ago, I mentioned the Hollywood Collection, a company that recreates jewelry worn by the stars of yesterday, in a Hollywood Glamour post. Today, I’m excited to share with you all yet another company that does spectacular jewelry that is inspired by classic Hollywood actresses.

Filthy Rich has their own “Hollywood Collection“, complete with replicas of jewelry worn by stars such as Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe and Jean Harlow. This company doesn’t just limit it offerings to jewelry styled after the ones worn by Hollywood’s finest: they also has recreations of jewelry owned by Jacqueline Kennedy and Kate Middleton. Here are a few of my favorites from the site:


Audrey Hepburn Roman Holiday earrings


Kate Middleton Royal Engagement Ring


Jacqueline Kennedy Gold Bracelet Watch

They have some other glamorous options for anyone interested in adding some Hollywood to their wardrobe. I love that these pieces are not only beautiful but very affordable, too: the prices average less than $50 each. So reasonably priced, so chic!

art · luxury

Art Collector Conundrum: Insecurity

In this series about issues surrounding inexperienced art enthusiasts, I want to explore another problematic aspect of art collecting. Namely, many new collectors and aspiring art professionals have a great deal of insecurity when entering into the world of art.

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The Holy Family with Saints Francis and Anne and the Infant Saint John the Baptist by Peter Paul Rubens

Like many other prestigious and exclusive arenas, new entrants find themselves overwhelmed and, ultimately, insecure about their knowledge, their ability to find their niche, and their own personal tastes and judgment. How many of us can relate to being the neophyte with a differing opinion that is promptly “put in place” by the resident expert? The more elite the group, the more devastating these interactions can be to the novice.

The point of this discussion isn’t to blast the experts that offer a different perspective to newcomers. Every subject needs experts that are willing to share their knowledge and guide their predecessors. This guidance can help new entrants avoid making costly mistakes on their journeys.

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A Forest at Dawn with a Deer Hunt

This also isn’t a criticism of the new entrants that will ultimately need to grow their confidence in their own tastes and knowledge in the art arena. There’s something to be said for discerning when to take the advice of someone else and when to stick with your stance, however unpopular. There are many experts that had to go against the grain at different points in order to establish themselves.

Ultimately, this is a consideration of what can be done to reduce insecurity when entering the art world. Knowledge, on its own, isn’t enough. The art world is the intersection of business and aesthetic tastes. The business portion can be taught and modeled for new entrants. To some degree, even the aesthetic part of art collecting can be “taught”, via exposure to many works in different media, from different periods of time and movements, and from various countries and global regions.


Venus and Adonis

So what does reduce insecurity? In a word, experience. The novices have to embrace the experiences that they must have, and they have to be ready to have MANY experiences outside of their comfort zones. Experience will teach a novice who to listen to and who to disregard; it will also help a novice learn when to listen to “gut nudges” and when those “nudges” are more fear-based (and generally inaccurate) than intuitive knowledge (which is usually spot-on).

To all of the newcomers to the art world: gain all of the experience that you can, remember that you BELONG wherever you’re going, and take comfort in the fact that you don’t have to know everything to be skilled, competent and worthy of your space in the art world.

(all art from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, photos from and )