Reminiscing With…Red Flower’s Yael Alkalay
Beauty Nostalgia is a weekly column on Beauty Counter in which we ask influencers, tastemakers, and some of our favorite industry experts to wax poetic on the sticks, salves, and sprays that helped shape who they are today.
The Pro: Yael Alkalay, founder of Red Flower
The Products: “A deeply nostalgic trinity is Clinique’s pot of lip gloss in Black Honey, Heno de Pravia soap, and Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche perfume. All three entered into my consciousness around the same time—the late seventies. The Clinique pot of gloss was my first break-the-bank beauty purchase, picked up with my friend Heather and her mother—a former Miss Massachusetts and true beauty junkie—at the North Dartmouth mall. I was too young, maybe 9, and I remember the trouble I got into. I held onto this lip gloss for years and can still taste the rich feeling of transformation it brought.
As a counterpoint to this emotion, I had tender feelings toward the suitcases full of cashmere, tobacco, cotton, leather, and Heno de Pravia soap that meant my grandfather Samuel had arrived from Argentina for the summer. There is no more perfect reminiscence than inhaling the clean, fresh scent of that soap layered between folds of leather and cashmere—notes that have inspired Red Flower Guaiac Organic Perfume, a blend of woody and citrus that sparkles with the vibrant warmth and strong gaucho character of my grandfather. While I have kept the remnants of Heno de Pravia bright yellow and green soap in my childhood linen drawer, the [product] that always pops out when I go home to visit and open that drawer is the iconic blue-and-black bottle of my mother’s favorite perfume, Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche. Just that bottle felt like a prize, but the scent still holds a special place in my heart. It seemed the perfect fragrance for my dark-haired, wide-eyed, adventurous, and worldly mother. Rich in sophistication and possibility, it inspired me to create Red Flower Ambrette Organic Perfume, which is complex, potent, and chic. I’m honored that this perfume is one of my very discerning mother’s favorites. These memories remind me that inspiration is everywhere, that scent as a trigger is immutable, and that texture as a sensation is unforgettable. It is why I do what I do.”—As told to Kari Molvar