Art of Living Well

Writer Liara Roux Finds Spiritual Protection in a $165 Bottle of Perfume

All photography of Liara Roux by Bao Ngo and courtesy of Roux.

This is the Art of Living Well, a column from CULTURED that explores how tastemakers think about luxury: the luxuries that are free, the ones that cost way too much, and the little ones that punch above their weight.

In the 2021 memoir Whore of New York, Liara Roux recounts their journey growing up in a conservative Christian household and finding a career in sex work, sex-worker advocacy, and writing. Their creative practice often explores issues of labor and femininity—which also happen to make them a connoisseur of taking care of themselves in ways that feel authentic and grounding. Here, Roux offers insight into the perfume that feels like spiritual armor and their favorite after-Thanksgiving ritual. 

What product do you use every day that instantly improves your mood?

I adore Marissa Zappas’s perfumes. They’re a critical part of my morning ritual, what I put on after I’m fully dressed and made up. Recently I’ve been loving her scent Maggie The Cat is Alive, I’m Alive!—it is incredibly luxurious-feeling. Unlike many unisex perfumes, it’s both very masculine and very feminine. Putting it on feels like spiritual protection.

What’s your favorite small luxury to give to someone else?

I really love giving people a box of tea from Tea Dealers, who sell a variety of beautifully packaged and very high-quality tea. Tea is a wonderful gift because nearly everyone drinks it—there are even herbal options for those who are avoiding caffeine—and because it’s meant to be consumed, it won’t unnecessarily clutter their home. I think there’s no better way to start the day than with a delicious cup of tea, and I love to share that with others.


What do you do when you need to feel grounded?

I draw a hot bath with Bath Roman bath salts. They have one called Muddy Blue that is very warming. Nothing relaxes me faster than an hour or two in the bath with a good book. 

What is something you’d love for someone to buy for you, but would never buy for yourself?


What’s a luxurious ritual you inherited from someone in your life?

My grandmother let me in on the secret that cherry pie is always better the day after it’s made. On the morning after Thanksgiving, she and I always ate a slice of cold pie from the fridge and it’s one of my favorite memories. 


What is the best thing you’ve put on your face recently?

Biologique Recherche Masque Vivant.

What is your favorite luxury that costs less than $20?

Pastries from Des gâteaux et du pain in Paris! They’re never too sweet and always have the most delightful textures.