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Married for close to 20 years, Laura and Harry Slatkin are home fragrance luminaries. Here, how their love bloomed—and why it almost didn’t.
This story first appeared in the May 20, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Laura Slatkin: He was dating a friend of mine. I thought she was wasting her time.
Harry Slatkin: I couldn’t stand Laura when I first met her.
L.S.: Two years later, I was chairing a charity event and we needed an additional chair…someone suggested Harry. For the sake of the charity, I agreed to meet him for drinks. I remember that night like it was yesterday. He looked so handsome…so gentlemanly…I remember saying to myself, “hmmm…”.
H.S.: We became best friends. We did everything together. We went out to dinner…we went to the movies. In the summertime, we drove back and forth to the Hamptons together. I called her every night; we became very, very close. I was a popular bachelor at the time—I still had all my hair. And after every blind date, I raced home to talk to Laura.
L.S.: I developed a huge crush on Harry but never said anything for an entire year. I waited for Harry to express an interest. But nothing ever happened. One day Harry asked me if I wanted to go to Atlantic City for the weekend. I thought, “This is very serious, he’s asked me to go away with him for the weekend.” So I went shopping—I bought a beautiful new dress and a very sexy silk negligee. I got a manicure… pedicure…I had my hair done. I was all set. Nothing happened. I was very upset. I vowed I would get Harry out of my head. It was time to self-protect.
H.S.: That year I was honored at the Bachelors’ Ball. Laura was my date. We had a great time. The next morning, a good friend called and said, “Harry, I was going to set you up with my friend but I can’t. I saw you dancing with Laura and I can tell by the way she looks at you….Laura is in love with you.” I hung up the phone and I said to myself, “Wow! I’m in love with Laura.” I decided right then I wanted to change the relationship so I asked Laura if she wanted to go to Atlantic City for the weekend.
L.S.: I was happy to go because I wasn’t doing anything that weekend anyway. I worked on Wall Street at the time and we just brought public Sam & Libby Shoes and the company gave everyone a Sam & Libby T-shirt with pictures of shoes all over it. I tossed that into my suitcase. I was good to go!
H.S.: We gambled, but I had no interest. At 9 p.m. I said, “Let’s go back to our rooms, get into something more comfortable and watch a movie together.”
L.S.: Get into something comfortable? All I had was my Sam & Libby T-shirt. Harry knocked at my door, and there he stood: monogrammed pajamas, a Sulka robe, velvet slippers and a waft of cologne trailing behind him.
H.S.: Out of the bathroom came Laura in her T-shirt. I thought to myself, “I need to work on her lingerie.” A trip to Montenapoleone and La Perla was added to my list.
L.S.: We watched Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. We lay down, and Harry put his arm around me. From that moment on we stayed frozen. Neither of us moved an inch all night.
H.S.: On the way home, we stopped for coffee and there was a blind man selling heart-shaped key chains that said “I Love You.” I bought one and leaned over and kissed Laura. She smiled.
L.S.: That following Friday I invited Harry over for a romantic dinner. Three months later we were engaged.
H.S.: That amazing foundation of friendship has enabled us to work together, overcome challenges and keep us happily married for 19 years.
L.S.: For Valentine’s Day this year I gave Harry a heart-shaped box from Tiffany and inside was the key chain. I still have it after all these years. The “I Love You” has faded a bit, but not in our relationship.