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.
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.
There are some women who would love nothing more than to luxuriate in a spa for hours on end. I, despite my job description, am not one of them. I’d rather paint my own nails, blow out my own hair, and replicate the effects of a facial at home than spend hours sipping cucumber water during a marathon pampering session. (Cue the hashtag: #firstworldproblems.) It’s not because I dislike these types of activities, it’s because they take forever…and ain’t nobody got time for that, as Sweet Brown would say. Leave it to storied beauty brand Elizabeth Arden, whose first Red Door salon opened in 1910 on Fifth Avenue, to keep up with the modern woman by offering speed services at its new Union Square location. In under fifteen minutes, you can treat tired eyes to hyaluronic serum and soothing pads via the Westside Eyeway, or get a quick dose of skin-plumping oxygen with the SOHO2. If you have an extra ten minutes, you can opt for the Queens Expressway, an extraction-free facial. Or try the Urban Renewal, a microdermabrasion treatment that’s finished in twenty-five minutes flat. Before I even had a chance to dose off during this diamond-tipped buffing session, I was done. The resulting glow, however, made it appear as if I’d gotten a solid eight hours of sleep. I like to think Ms. Arden herself would have been fond of these expedited services—after all, you don’t build a global empire lazing about. She famously stated, “To be beautiful is the birthright of every woman,” but if this tireless entrepreneur were alive today, her motto might go something like this: “To be beautiful is the birthright of every woman—even a busy one.”
200 Park Avenue South, New York, NY, (212) 388-0222; thereddoorny.com
After the successful launch of a freestanding store in Moscow last November, Kilian Hennessy has set his sights on New York City. The first By Kilian fragrance boutique in the U.S. debuts tonight at 804 Washington Street, a chic block nestled in the cobblestone landscape of the Meatpacking District. The black-and-white decor combines the sleek, sophisticated By Kilian aesthetic with the cool, industrial vibe of the neighborhood. Think custom-made furniture, Japanese lighting, and silk carpet, plus exposed brick painted in white lacquer. Customers will get to explore the brand’s complete collection of fragrances, including Apple Brandy, a sweet and woody scent that will only be sold at the NYC location. In between final preparations for the store opening, we got Hennessy to talk shop.
What made you want to open a boutique in New York City—and why now?
Who doesn’t dream of opening a store in New York City? We have actually been searching for the right location for a year!
Why did you choose the Meatpacking District?
We knew right from the start that we wanted to be downtown. When the space next to Louboutin Men’s and in front of Nicholas Kirkwood became available, we jumped on it. The square footage was perfect, and it will be amazing when the Whitney Museum opens in 2015.
What are some of the design elements that you wanted to include in the space?
I absolutely wanted the feeling of a downtown store, which is why we kept the exposed brick on the walls. To offset this, however, we lacquered the brick in white, added black marble flooring, and dropped in a black lacquered ceiling. I also really wanted to give our clients the feeling of entering into my private world. That’s why the [boutique] has been designed to mirror my apartment. For me, it is of utmost importance that anyone who enters the store feels at home. [A customer] can stay as long as she wants to discover our bespoke service offering, or to [experience] our collections of perfumes and evening bags.
Why did you decide to create an exclusive New York-inspired scent for the boutique, and how does it epitomize NYC?
I didn’t want my New York store to be a copy/paste of my Moscow store. Of course, the key visual identity elements will always stay, but I really want to keep the flavor of the city and its culture. I always want to preserve a sense of uniqueness. This comes through some design elements and through exclusive products. No other store in the world will carry [Apple Brandy]. This scent is very personal. It’s an accord of apple liqueur melting with woods. Of course, there is a wink to the Big Apple, but I would have never done it if the two didn’t blend so well together.
As a member of the family that developed one of the world’s most beloved cognacs, we trust that you know a thing or two about brandy. Looks like the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
804 Washington St., New York, NY, (212) 600-1298; www.bykilian.com.
Stylist Takamichi Saeki has been dispensing precisely disheveled, geometrically structured cuts since opening his first salon on a sleepy block in the East Village in 1999. Since then his address has changed twice—first to the cobblestoned Great Jones Street, and now to a well-trodden stretch of the Bowery. As of this week, Saeki has more newness to boast about: The salon is adding, after hearing the pleas of many a male client, a guy-focused bespoke styling bar. Akin to a dry bar concept for dudes, men can come in pre-important meeting or -hot date for a mini style or wash—all of it using Davines’ More Inside collection exclusively. And since men haven’t historically been known to labor over their coifs for long lengths of time, all of the services are lightning-fast: 25 minutes or less. A concept that any dude can get behind.
Bespoke Style Bar at Takamichi Hair, 263 Bowery, 2nd floor, New York, NY, (212) 420-7979; takamichihair.com.