It is reassuring to see that, among the recent surge of big-box retailers breaking ground in south Brooklyn (Uniqlo, Sephora, Intermix, and J.Crew among them), there is still room, and, perhaps more importantly, demand for the so-called little guy. Twisted Lily, the new niche fragrance boutique on Atlantic Avenue, may be small, but the selection is mighty indeed. No surprise, considering the perfume pedigrees of co-owners Eric Weiser and Stamatis Birsimijoglou. Prior to opening the elegant fragrance enclave this month, they ran the e-commerce site parfum1.com for twelve years, a destination for cult-favorite and hard-to-find scents. And they are continuing that legacy at Twisted Lily.
“We always strived with Parfum1 to have extremely excellent customer service, but the thing is that selling niche fragrance online is difficult,” said Weiser. “You can describe a fragrance to the best of your ability, but you can’t ever have that intimate one-on-one session with somebody to help them find the perfect scent, which is what we’re all about.”
The selection at Twisted Lily, while thoughtfully cultivated, is also vast, and according to Birsimijoglu, will continue to evolve as the pair discovers what customers respond to. There is a corner devoted to Brooklyn-born perfumes by D.S. & Durga, CB I hate Perfume, and Joya. And no good fragrance boutique would be complete without French imports like Serge Lutens, L’Artisan Parfumeur, Maison Dorin (fragrance house to the court of Versailles since 1780), and Maison Francis Kurkdjian.
Skincare is available courtesy of In Fiore, as well as an incredible selection of candles by Belle Fleur and Jardins d’Ecrivains (each inspired by a literary figure). Much to my delight, a number of brands, and, in turn, perfumes that many shoppers will likely be unfamiliar with also line the shelves. A few to take, er, note of: Lilt, a singular, fresh green by Rouge Bunny Rouge (the store will soon carry their cosmetics); Finisterre, a lovely fusion of earth and sea with the slightest hint of fennel, by Maria Candida Gentile, an Italian master blender and the only woman to ever earn the title of maître parfumeur; Patchouli Intense, a warm, impossibly elegant take on the oft-maligned ingredient by Parfums de Nicolai—whose perfumer happens to bear ties to the storied Guerlain fragrance family and the title of archivist to the world’s only scent archive in Versailles; and Jeke, a remarkable smoky, campfire-y melding of tobacco, bezoin, patchouli, Lapsang souchong, vanilla, and clove by eclectic, Portland-based perfumer Slumberhouse. “Because of our olfactive memory, people are often going to remember you based on your scent,” says Weiser. “And you get to choose that personal scent soundtrack or fragrance aura; you get to choose how you want people to remember you.”
Twisted Lily, 360 Atlantic Avenue, between Hoyt and Bond Streets, Brooklyn, N.Y. (347) 529-4681; www.twistedlily.com
Anna Kaiser doesn’t just have a body that rivals Kelly Ripa and Sarah Jessica Parker’s ultra-toned figures—she counts them among her clients. And aside from making celebrities sweat, this trainer has a pedigree that includes dancing backup for Shakira, touring internationally with Fame!, performing on Broadway for the fiftieth anniversary of West Side Story, and serving as Tracy Anderson’s chief content officer. Her “technique” (I was quickly corrected when I referred to it as a “method”), AKT in Motion, has garnered a following that spans from the Upper East Side to Soho. Now, Kaiser is finally opening her six-thousand-square-foot flagship on 84th Street between Second and Third Avenues. (For the downtown set that doesn’t dare venture above 14th Street, the 52 Mercer Street studio will remain open).
Her permanent address features a large class studio, two smaller private studios, and a treatment room (for massage therapy and acupuncture). There is also functional diagnostic nutritionist available on site for consultations and a lounge where you can grab a coffee, shoot out a few emails, and catch up with friends after class. “You go to these boutique fitness studios and there’s no place to hang out,” she said. “You’re thrown back out on the street when the next forty people come to class…It’s so important to be able to sit down, have a conversation with a friend, and make fitness a part of your life.” As someone who thoroughly enjoys the “cool-down” portion of most workouts, I could definitely get into this couch/magazine situation. Of course there are changing rooms equipped with showers, and for the more dedicated students, locker rentals that include laundry service so you don’t have to enjoy the free upper-body warm-up you get by lugging a gym bag up and down the subway stairs.
As for the technique, one would think that, since Kaiser comes from a dance background, her classes would involve choreography designed for people with rhythm (note: I am not a member of this coordinated group), but she assures me that beginners can keep up with AKT (the first level that lasts a full hour). “It’s geared more toward calisthenics than plyometrics—[essentially] heightened pedestrian movement,” she explained. “You’re not going to be doing pirouettes and leaps…but really using your body in all planes of motion so that there’s a lateral transfer, allowing you to get the best and most proportional results.” Happy Hour, the intermediate class, does not involve cheap booze as the name suggests, but instead shocks the system by taking the beginner-level movements and incorporating them into a dance sequence. For the advanced, there’s S&M—a ninety-minute interval session that works you from head to toe.
Personal training is also offered by Kaiser’s team, all of whom danced professionally for five years or more and are trained in everything from prenatal yoga to PRX. “This is really important to me because dancers have a different relationship to movement and to their bodies—they’ve been using their body as a tool their entire lives,” she said. She encourages clients to work one-on-one in addition to taking group classes to tailor the technique to their bodies and goals. Semi-privates, or “Team Trains,” are also available with up to five people. You don’t even need to have SJP or Ripa’s deep pockets to get involved: A monthly, unlimited membership is $450 (this includes access to the downtown location, and a trainer is assigned to you to answer any and all questions), while à la carte classes are $35 for sixty minutes and $45 for ninety. But for the first two weeks at the flagship (November 1 through 15), unlimited classes will be $84 per week (a nod to the studio’s address)—making Kaiser’s dance revolution available to the people.
Opening November 1, 244 East 84th Street, New York, (212) 858-0305; www.aktinmotion.com
There are few guys that understand the luxury of a hot shave, but Harry’s, a grooming company that set out to provide stylish, well-crafted razors at reasonable prices, is determined to bring back the barbershop experience. There is something to be said about the badass-ness of a straight razor—letting a person wield a sharp blade over your bare neck is intrinsically dangerous and can be potentially lethal. And on the quiet, neighborhood-y MacDougal Street in Soho, you’ll find that this American pastime is alive and well at The Corner Shop. The intimate, 300-square-foot space boasts two refurbished 1920s Koken barber chairs—along with a well-edited selection of products (ranging from $6 Hanes tees to Makr leather goods). Naturally, Harry’s razors and shave cream are also available for purchase. Hanging on the walls are framed pages from retro barber catalogs picked up in Harlem, and at the far end of the space, a record player spinning vinyls by bands who recorded in New York City. The staff is equally legit: You could say Duval Lawton has razor-wielding talent in his blood (both his father and grandfather cut hair in Jamaica), and Matthew Wire spent over a decade in California tending to Hollywood’s leading men. And for today’s modern gent, there is convenient online booking and in-house iPads used to record photos and details (like the type of clipper guard used) each time a customer gets a trim. I for one appreciate a well-kept man who lives on the edge and fully understands the perils of stubble.
The Corner Shop, 64 MacDougal Street, New York, NY, (646)-964-5193; www.harrys.com
Finding the perfect lipstick that encompasses the ideal shade, texture, and finish all in one tube is never as easy as it seems. In fact, it’s often hit or miss whether you can actually find what you have in mind at the makeup counter. And with brands constantly refreshing their spectrum of colors, once you find “the one,” it’s never guaranteed that it will still be for sale when you wear it down to a nub. There are a few companies that offer shade-matching services (in which you send your precious leftovers off via mail), but Bite Beauty’s Lip Lab offers consumers the opportunity to participate in the process by creating their own bespoke bullet on-site.
The pop-up store the brand opened mid-May in Soho was so well received that the Canadian company set up a permanent shop this month—revamping the space from floor to ceiling to include stainless steel countertops fitted with light boxes (optimal for blending the gluten-free, food-grade pigments), as well as expanding the options available to customers. In addition to the existing range of hues, it included colors normally only available to cosmetic chemists, such as blue and yellow, which can be used to punch up the standard burgundy or red. While only four essential oils (cherry, mint, lilac, and superfruit) were previously available to scent your concoction, the company added two more fragrances (vanilla and mango) to the line. Another added benefit is deciding on the level of opacity and shine you desire: matte, luminous crème, sheer, or crème deluxe (infused with Japanese silk).
With trained makeup artists on site, you can opt to do the mixing yourself or leave it to the pros while you keep an eye on the process. Once you’ve finally devised your unique hue (mine was a moody bordeaux tinged with violet), the pigments are melted, blended with the oils in a centrifuge, poured into a mold, cooled on plates at -2 degrees Fahrenheit, extracted, and put into a soft-touch tube. It sounds complicated, but the entire process takes approximately ten minutes. You can even rent out the space on Thursday and Sunday for a flat rate ($500 per hour, for a maximum of two hours) and host your own lipstick soirée—giving a new meaning to the notion of cocktails with friends. But with the lab hosting only two of these events per month, you better start planning now. I have a feeling snagging one of those coveted slots will be tougher than getting a Cronut from the Dominique Ansel Bakery up the street.
$36 per lipstick ($48 for the crème deluxe finish), 174 Prince Street, New York, NY, (646) 484-6111.
Autumn is all about renewal. In the style realm, that usually means a complete overhaul—or, at the very least, a switching over—of your closet to reflect the new season’s falling temperatures, while in beauty, there is a lot of refreshing going on: bouncy new haircuts, moodier hues of lipstick and nail lacquer, and maybe even a warmer, spicier scent than what you were donning in the summer months. Skincare, too, usually gets a reboot, with hydration becoming a more central focus. I think it is precisely that seasonal change that these five New York spas had in mind when designing the latest facial treatments to hit their menus.
Dermalogica BioActive Peel
The beloved skincare brand’s first-ever chemical peel is as unfussy and results-driven as its signature products. The BioActive Peel is focused on resurfacing the skin, curbing inflammation (even that caused by acne), and addressing hyperpigmentation using a biphasic peel approach. The biggest difference between it and more traditional chemical peels, though, is that Dermalogica’s version boasts minimal downtime—a major bonus.
$125 to $150, available at Dermalogica spas in New York and Santa Monica, Calif., nationwide rollout to follow; www.dermalogica.com
Kiehl’s Multi-Corrective Anti-Aging Facial
To accompany the fall launch of its potent lifting, firming, contouring, and re-texturizing wonder moisturizer (Super Multi-Corrective Cream), Kiehl’s made it the star of a facial at its eponymous New York spa. A godsend for the listlessly complexioned—the treatment includes a bit of microderm, then micro-current and LED stimulation, and, of course, the slathering on aplenty of the aforementioned moisturizer.
$195, at Kiehl’s Spa 1851, 157 East 64th Street; 888-SPA-1851; www.kiehls.com/spa1851
Joanna Vargas Holiday Refresher Facial
We are not shy about our love for Joanna Vargas’ skincare wizardry, and she has long proven to be indispensable when a complexion reboot is in order. And her latest limited-edition facial is focused on just that. Designed to infuse a bit of life and light into dull skin, it includes a thorough lymphatic drainage massage; a micro-current treatment; an anti-inflammatory red currant, pineapple, and lemon mask; and, naturally, many of Vargas’ own products, like the intensely moisturizing Daily Hydrating Cream.
$250, or $400 for an appointment with Vargas, Joanna Vargas Salon and Skin Care Sanctuary, 501 Fifth Avenue, Suite 2011; 212-949-2350; www.joannavargas.com
Savor Organic Pumpkin Enzyme Facial
At Savor, a petite gem of a spa in the West Village, natural products and treatments are front and center. And to transition skin from summer into fall, the ingredient of choice couldn’t be more seasonally appropriate: pumpkin. The core of the spa’s latest facial, pumpkin enzyme is rich in vitamins and antioxidants, and, when applied to the skin, has a brightening, glow-inducing effect.
$165, Savor Spa, 327 West 11th Street; 212-304-2887; www.savorspa.com
Aire Ancient Baths Natura Bissé Vitamin Boost Facial
If you have yet to discover the magic that lies beneath a quiet Tribeca street at Aire, a subterranean maze of thermal baths (shown above), go. Go now. Especially because your rejuvenating soaks can be followed by a citrus-driven facial using cult-favorite Natura Bissé products. Designed to reinvigorate and restore luminosity to the skin, Vitamin Indulge or Vitamin Boost treatments are available. Both include ninety minutes of the thermal bath circuit, followed by a massage, then facial (the former option lasts forty-five minutes longer).
$180 to $240, Aire Ancient Baths, 88 Franklin Street; 212-274-3777; www.ancientbathsny.com