If you didn’t know it opened this week, you’d think Buly had been just sitting here on the Left Bank for the last two centuries. “He toured every hotel dieu dispensary in France to re-create the right ambiance,” commented Victoire de Taillac of her husband, Ramdane Touhami, the high-energy, multifaceted artist-designer whose last project was the Cire Trudon revival. “Paris has always been the center of the beauty world. France invented everything about the modern beauty industry, but in terms of a fun, ‘historic’ experience, there was absolutely nothing,” added Touhami. All we can say is, mission accomplished—think a diminutive French answer to Santa Maria Novella (minus the church).
Still, the couple wasn’t starting entirely from scratch. In the early 19th century, Buly—then spelled Bully (the couple removed one “l” to modernize it)—rivaled with the likes of Guerlain. Its originator, Jean-Vincent Bully, invented the aromatic lotion Vinaigre de Bully in 1803 and made a fortune yet died destitute; his life was the inspiration for “César Birotteau,” a novel in Honoré de Balzac’s Comédie Humaine cycle with a happier ending. That Buly had a literary backstory and even that the brand had managed to survive, barely, into the 20th century were less a draw, noted De Taillac, than its product catalog, which had resurfaced a couple years ago in London through an antique dealer friend. “The catalog was so rich and the illustrations so wonderful and amusing, that’s what really inspired us,” explained De Taillac.
Today, the Buly shop may be small, but it is already creating major buzz for a charming lineup based on the original Buly product names and simple, natural formulas. There are candles, of course, and incense and scented matches that are already a major talking point. A short, to-the-point skincare line includes Pommade Virginale (skin softener) and Eau Rectifiée (a St. John’s wort-based cleanser). The most expensive pieces in the place are not creams but artisanally crafted combs in rare woods that sit behind a glass display. Perfumes are big news, too, not least because here they are all water-based. “Unlike the traditional, pyramidal fragrances, the scents are frontal—it’s a true perfume register, but you don’t have to wait for the alcohol to evaporate to get the full impression, plus the water moisturizes the skin,” explains De Taillac. Billed as parfums de peau, eight naturally based fragrances have names like Tuberuse, Scottish Lichen, English Honey, and Damask Rose, and they come as eau double (comparable in strength to cologne) or eau triple (more like an essence). Lining the shelves is a spectrum of virgin oils in old-fashioned containers that address every imaginable skin or hair concern, from the well-known (sweet almond, grape seed) to the more exotic, such as the restorative Gettou seed oil from Japan or the softening Pracaxi oil from the Amazon. Rounding out the catalog are floral waters and clays, roots and powders to be mixed into masks. For adventurous souls, the “curiosities and rarities” await (outlined in the modern-day catalog above). Bukkake powder, a “perfect scrub” based on droppings of the Japanese bush warbler, or oil extracted from the fat of the Australian emu, known for antiseptic and cellular renewal properties, are both viable options—if you dare.
6 rue Bonaparte, 6th arrondissement, Paris
In an endless quest to save face, Angelenos have become quite demanding when it comes to their antiaging products and treatments. Here to serve this newly discerning audience is the vinotherapy skincare line Caudalíe, opening their first West Coast retail flagship and spa this week on Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice. Since launching in 1995, Caudalíe’s founders, Mathilde and Bertrand Thomas, have been recognized for their formula innovations—finding transformative antioxidant power in the polyphenols in leftover grape skins and seeds at the family château in France. Since then, they’ve been one of the pioneers in the green skincare market, developing products where parabens, sulfates, mineral oils, and phlalates are noticeably absent.
Set in this seaside enclave, Caudalíe’s new home is equal parts laid-back living and natural glamour. Inside the 1,000-square-foot space, customers can discover products at the Beauty Barrel Bar and experience the range through custom treatments—among them, five different types of facials, two body treatments, a body scrub, and manicures and pedicures using Kure Bazaar polish. Designed in purple to stem back to the heart of the brand (the grape), the Venice location will also feature exclusive items in store (dubbed Les Introuvables), including organic herbal tea, shampoo, and a spa candle. Not to mention, there’s French wine from the Caudalíe vineyard to sip after you de-stress.
1416 Abbot Kinney Boulevard, Venice, CA, (310) 450-3560
Synaesthesia, stemming from the ancient Greek word for “together,” is a neurological phenomenon wherein stimulation of one sense can result in the involuntary stimulation of another. For example, those who experience the color version of it may, when looking at a set of numbers, see not just the digits themselves but each one associated with a specific hue. Besides being an insanely awesome Scrabble word to have in your back pocket, synaesthesia is also the name of the signature treatment at New York’s first-ever Lush Spa. Tucked away on the second floor of the Lush store on Lexington Avenue, the space itself has a transporting vibe. Outfitted to look like an old-timey English cottage, there are reclaimed-wood cabinets, vintage teapots, and stacks of flea-marketed books—certainly not your standard spa decor. The spa and signature treatments were conceived of by Lush cofounder Mark Constantine (he has scent-shape synaesthesia, so he perceives everything he smells as having a shape) and behavioral therapist Lady Helen Kennedy. U.K. folk musician Simon Emmerson was commissioned to dream up the accompanying music. (He also has synaesthesia, the sound-color variety—he perceives certain sounds as having a color.) The first order of business when you arrive is selecting a “mood” for your experience from a wall of words describing emotional states; this will drive the focus of your treatment. I went for “mind cleanser,” which, along with “relax,” are, rather unsurprisingly, the most popular requests at the New York location. (At Lush’s sister spa in Philadelphia, the top picks are “confidence” and “energized.”) Because of my mind-focused pick, I had extra special attention paid to my head and face (score!) during what would be an impressively choreographed massage set perfectly in time to one of Emmerson’s tracks. This particular composition, complete with birdsongs, was conceived of to take you—sonically, at least—through a full day from sunrise to nightfall. And amazingly, when in tandem with the therapist’s precise movements, it does—in the so-called evening hours, I was drooling and drowsy, and come “morning,” I started to feel energized. A neat trick. I emerged eighty minutes later, loose, relaxed, and, I’m happy to report, with my mind entirely at ease. For the free-thinking spa-goer who doesn’t mind a dose of chakras with their massage, the Lush Spa is a necessary addition to your beauty black book.
Synaesthesia massage, $230 for eighty minutes. Lush Spa, 783 Lexington Avenue, New York, (212) 207-8151.
With fashion month coming to a close, there’s no better way to celebrate (and unwind) than with a treatment before takeoff. A former colleague of mine closed out the menswear shows with a massage and said he didn’t even mind that his flight was delayed a few hours when he arrived at the airport—all of the stress and tension had completely disappeared before he even whipped out his passport at check-in. Here, two spots worth hitting up before you say bon voyage:
Where: Spa My Blend by Clarins, Le Royal Monceau, 37, avenue Hoche, 01.42.99.88.99
What to get: Ask for the Anti-Jet Lag Stopover Massage for Face & Body because, let’s face it, you’re probably still jet-lagged. This rubdown refreshes and moisturizes dehydrated skin after weeks of vacillating between espresso and champagne. It also claims to relieve tiredness, insomnia, upset stomach, headache, and irritability. (If you’re anything like me, you’ve ticked off all five boxes and already made an appointment.)
Where: Biologique Recherche Ambassade de la Beauté, 32, avenue des Champs-Élysées, 01.41.18.96.84
What to get: Sign yourself up for the Soin Minceur, stat! This “modeling massage” helps drain toxins (of which you’ve probably stockpiled) and leaves you feeling toned and rejuvenated. A textured rubber mitt is used to work essential oils into the skin, leaving you soft, glowing, and ready for the long haul ahead.
Book the Energy Lift Facial, the latest addition to the menu at Ling, and you know immediately upon entering the treatment room that you’re in for an entirely different kind of experience. Clue number one: my aesthetician, Michiko (whom I highly recommend), instructs me to position myself on the treatment bed, facing down (a strange request for a facial), with my back left bare. She says that she is going to work on releasing all the tension in my back before focusing on my face. Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. But this is no run-of-the-mill massage; instead, Michiko uses the treatment’s titular Energy Lift contraption, a heated machine embedded with tourmaline, a potent energy-producing crystal with proven detoxifying abilities. It feels like a warm, polished stone being run up and down my spine and around my neck and shoulders. Michiko explains that the heated tourmaline therapy is designed to aid in lymphatic drainage and to help open up your meridian points to allow for proper movement of chi (energy). Terrific, I think momentarily, before returning to my state of drooling bliss.
Once it’s time for me to face forward, I’m basically putty in her very capable hands. She cleanses my extremely dehydrated skin and then layers on a trio of peels—glycolic, then papaya enzyme, then an acid-free rescue variety—to suck up any dirt and impurities. Then—groan, grumble—it’s extraction time; considering the fact that I’d subjected my complexion to a few different climates, a lot of plane travel, and zero exfoliation in the weeks prior, Michiko has her work cut out for her. After a meticulous excavation, she paints on a soothing clay mask, then a ginseng herbal moisturizing mask to placate any inflammation. (A side note: Michiko suggests, wisely, that in the following week I sleep for a few nights with their Replenishing Serum and Ginseng mask layered on to get my skin back into shape. I oblige and am feeling—well, my skin at least—much more balanced.) Next, the same heated-tourmaline therapy used on my back is now applied to my face, to energize and lift my skin, before Michiko launches into a nimble-fingered facial massage. The facial is dubbed Energy Lift, and although your complexion will definitely leave Ling looking glow-y and invigorated, you will likely be in a state of deep relax.
$195 for a 60-minute Energy Lift Facial, available at Ling Skin Care in Union Square, 12 East 16th Street, or Ling Skin Care on the Upper West Side, 105 West 77th Street; lingskincare.com.