April 19 2014

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A Post-Couture Week Recharge At The Dior Institute


I was recently in Paris for a four-day jaunt and did my best to make the most of the trip. Foie gras and fine cheeses were consumed. Euros were spent in the Marais. And I almost witnessed a Jarvis Cocker show at Bataclan, but apparently headliners go on a bit earlier in the City of Light than in downtown Manhattan (a missed opportunity). I also made a point to book an appointment at the new Dior Institute in Plaza Athénée right before I left, where I imagine members of the fashion tribe, weary from couture week, are heading en masse right now. You can’t get more Parisian than a spa associated with the legendary French house, built in the confines of Monsieur Dior’s favorite hotel on Avenue Montaigne, where he shot his couture creations in the 1940′s and ’50′s and treated his best clients to intimate lunches. Sixty-some years later, a flagship for his age-defying skincare line was finally completed last fall, designed with the same luxury that has defined the brand since its inception. It’s an oasis unlike any other I’ve seen, glistening in a white light that seems to go on forever, an optical illusion assisted by a central pool, marble tables, tiled pillars, and mirrored walls. And while there’s something undeniably Zoolander-ish about the five treatment rooms—they’re as white as the lobby and are staffed by an unusually attractive team of aestheticians, also clad in all white—the overall effect is a futuristic tranquility that sets the experience apart before your service even begins. After a diagnosis to determine my “youthfulness profile,” a compulsory back massage was performed as a means of stimulating, re-oxygenating, and draining the body so my skin could fully benefit from the antiaging concentrates applied throughout the treatment. I got the “Just In Time” facial, which targets first wrinkles, and if the 60 minutes of washing, exfoliating, massaging, and pore-tightening weren’t enough, a complimentary makeup application—with Dior cosmetics—made me feel extra-pleased with my complexion as a I boarded my flight back to New York. I even got a compliment from a stewardess, who simply looked at me and said, “You look good.” Money well spent.

Photo: Courtesy of the Dior Institute

We’ll Have Our Mani Poolside, Thanks


Yeah, you know that roof pool. It’s the roof pool you may have been to for a fashion party a few summers back; the pool that you know glistens above you on Ninth Avenue when you’re trudging through the Meatpacking District on a 90-degree July day; the pool you’ve vowed to return to if only to lie down on one of the plush lounge chairs on its deck and exhale, knowing that you’ve made it. While some may say its heyday has passed, New York’s Soho House still holds a unique appeal to us, mostly because of its legendary wait list (we always want what we can’t have) and its exclusive aquamarine waters. Beginning this week, the members-only destination becomes even more desirable in our book as it starts offering poolside services from its Cowshed spa. Now you’ll be able to get a polish change, scalp massage, or back massage and foot treatment while you bask in the sun—and the entire city sweats it out beneath you. That is, of course, if you can secure access, which still requires a nomination by two current members. (Word on the street, however, is that the hotel/club is “always looking to grow its creative community.”) For further inquiries, call (212) 627-9800.

Photo: Courtesy of the Soho House

Sephora’s Stu-Stu-Studio


You may already know and love Sephora for its incomparable selection of products and those endlessly helpful “try me” stations, but the makeup mecca has amped up its retail experience this summer with the Beauty Studio. Recognizing that certain application techniques continue to mystify even the most skilled would-be artists, the store has introduced walk-in Express Services, which feature a selection of complimentary step-by-step tutorials led by trained Sephora aestheticians to help you master the elusive smoky eye, a perfect pout, and, perhaps most difficult of all, a flawless complexion. Just another reason to pop by the beauty purveyor, if the temptation to experiment with fuchsia lipstick from ten different brands—with no commitment to buy—hasn’t lured you in already.

Photo: Greg Kessler

Spa Chakra’s Paint-And-Primp Initiative


High-end hair salon leanings aside, I am a cheap-and-easy kind of gal when it comes to mani-pedis. I’ll go anywhere there’s no wait and that I can be in and out in under an hour for less than $20, acetone fumes notwithstanding. Which is why I’ve never understood the $60 spa manicure concept—until today, that is. In an attempt to lure the discerning customer into its new digs, Spa Chakra on Fifth (which now occupies Cornelia Day Resort’s prime Fifth Avenue location) has introduced Club Polish: unlimited manicures and pedicures for a monthly fee of $300. The hefty price tag comes with amenities that go beyond, say, a fume-free environment and clean tools. Members get access to complimentary top-shelf alcoholic beverages and Champagne as well as a menu of Fig & Olive delicacies, so you can unwind and satiate yourself while your feet are being exfoliated, massaged, and moisturized. Then there’s full use of the spa’s facilities, which include a rooftop deck, steam and shower room, and relaxation lounge for post-treatment bliss. The deal also includes priority on-site reservations for more extensive services, should the urge to get that two-hour facial and massage strike you while you’re sipping a glass of bubbly. The biggest selling point for me, though, is the free Wi-Fi, which meant that I could attend to a lingering chipped-polish situation while doing my market work and writing this blog, all at the same time. (Yes, it’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.) For more information or to book an appointment, call (212) 871-3050.

Photo: Courtesy of Spa Chakra

Aveda Stakes Its Claim On New York


Seeing as how I was raised by a reformed-hippie mother who spent the greater part of her teenage years emulating Joni Mitchell (there was indeed a dulcimer laying around our house for most of my childhood), natural eating and grooming habits were instilled in my sister and me from the get-go: We got fruit leathers, not fruit roll-ups, in our lunch bags and were well versed in Aveda products and aromas long before we were old enough to really appreciate their formulations and efficacy. As a longtime fan of the brand, it’s always been somewhat surprising to me that its New York presence hasn’t been bigger; we are, after all, the nation’s biggest beauty market. It was also bugging the Aveda folks, apparently, but they seem to be set on righting these wrongs with the relaunch of a flagship salon in Tribeca come September and a new partnership with the Chopra Center and Spa in midtown.

Best-selling author and mind-body physician Dr. Deepak Chopra’s tranquil subterranean oasis is now offering four Aveda signature treatments: the Chakra Balancing Massage, which features balancing oils combined with a deep-tissue massage on the back and spinal muscles, chakra reflexology for the feet, and energy work for each of the seven chakras; the Green Science Facial, which incorporates the brand’s antiaging line combined with a rejuvenating massage to lift and firm the skin, visibly reduce lines and wrinkles, and increase barrier strength; the Enbrightenment Facial, designed to enhance skin tone and decrease discoloration; and the Outer Peace Facial, which puts a special focus on skin exfoliation and redness reduction to help treat acne-prone skin. It screams mother-daughter spa day to me, which means two fewer hours I will need to plan the next time Mom comes to town. For more information or to book an appointment, visit

Photo: Courtesy of Aveda