The notion of sitting in a spa on a summer afternoon isn’t something that usually appeals to me. After the New York winter we endured this year, I’m making up for lost time in the great outdoors. The newly revamped spa at the Four Seasons in midtown Manhattan, however, might just become my post-Central Park stop. Swiss beauty brand L.Raphael—a favorite of A-listers like Sofia Coppola and Tilda Swinton—has taken over the 4,500-square-foot space that boasts ten treatment rooms and a salon. The service I’m most excited about is the Oxy-Star Treatment. Using the brand’s proprietary Oxy-Tech II machine, this facial employs jet-speed pressure to help ingredients—like white truffle extract—penetrate deeper into the skin, in addition to gently exfoliating. A collagen-boosting mask helps to round out the experience. While the device sounds a little bit like a rocket launch (i.e., you won’t hear the gentle spa music over the rumbling), the intense blast of cool oxygen feels refreshing after a sun-soaked and sweaty day on the Great Lawn. Plus, it leaves your complexion hydrated, glowing, and ready for sunset cocktails at the Boathouse.
See fourseasons.com for more information
Nail art—as cool as it strives to be—can be a somewhat intimidating experience for the uninitiated. So many options, so little guidance at your fingertips. But at Paintbox, a new nail studio in Soho, the experience is, thankfully, edited to appeal to both novices and the more seasoned nail aficionados. Founded by former beauty editor Eleanor Langston, the 1,500-square-foot space features eighteen manicure stations and a streamlined menu of options designed by Langston and celebrity manicurist Julie Kandalec, who serves as Paintbox’s creative director. “I would often get texts from friends at the nail salon saying, ‘I’m paralyzed by the wall of colors’ or ‘I want to try something new but don’t know where to start,’” says Langston. To that end, Paintbox offers just fifty—not five hundred—polishes of the moment (think Tom Ford, Chanel, Essie, Butter London) and seasonal lookbooks depicting twenty-five highly wearable nail art options, all of which can be further customized to your liking. For spring/summer, the range includes Shadow Boxer, with a geometric cutout pattern, and Divide and Conquer, a simple yet striking take on the color-block trend that doesn’t announce itself as being “trendy.”
Another simplified aspect: the cost. Instead of charging by the stud, the studio offers four tiers of pricing, from $20 for a basic manicure with polish, to $65 for a gel manicure with design. And did we mention the pampering touches? Besides staying open until 9 p.m. most nights, there are iPhone chargers at every station, gratis beverages (champagne!), and even a Paintbar with magazines and Scotch at the ready should your significant other want a tipple while you’re waiting for your moon mani to dry. On your way out, don’t miss the Photobox, where you can take a still-life image of your artfully done nails to post on your social media feeds. #LoveIt
17 Crosby Street, New York City, 212-219-2412; paint-box.com
When Michael Gordon created Bumble and Bumble Surf Spray in 2001, he—no pun intended—made waves in the hair industry that are still being felt today. Ask any model, hairstylist, or girl-next-door for their go-to products and chances are high that Surf Spray is one of them. Ditto on Hair Powder, an item practically every stylist keeps in their kit that Gordon also introduced to the masses. Gordon sold the brand to Estée Lauder in 2006 and made a documentary about Vidal Sassoon in 2010, and the next chapter in his story might be his most revolutionary yet. Gordon’s new range, Purely Perfect, comprises three detergent-free, nontoxic products (Cleansing Creme, Foundation Creme, Smooth Finish) that take care of all your hair cleansing and styling needs. “Suddenly, to have a product that changes everything you thought you knew about hair—that’s exciting,” says Gordon.
From the first Bumble and Bumble salon opened in 1977 on East 56th Street that re-created the downtown vibe uptown (“What I wanted was an eclectic clientele: the people who had just left school, the artists, the mums, the teachers,” Gordon recalls), to harnessing the creativity he witnessed on magazine shoots and backstage at fashion shows (namely Orlando Pita, who worked for him at Bumble), Gordon has created not simply a salon or brand, but a cultural movement around hair. His approach to introducing Purely Perfect to the world continues that authentic vision. Hairstory Studio, which occupies half of Gordon’s sprawling lower Manhattan apartment, serves as an experimentation lab for Purely Perfect, with former Bumble and ex-Cutler stylist Wes Sharpton and colorist Roxie Darling at the helm. They cast girls and guys off the streets of New York and give them a modern-day makeover. Sharpton and Darling weave their magic, Gordon photographs the transformations, and the whole thing is documented via the Web and social media. “Essentially, it’s stories about hair and how powerfully it affects people,” Gordon says. The studio feels like a contemporary Warhol Factory of sorts, except the vibes are more Zen palace (a Tibetan cook makes the team lunch daily, while Gordon, a practicing Buddhist, serves tea in china cups) than amphetamine-fueled frenzy. Didier Malige stopped by on the morning of our visit to cut the hair of a fan from Australia who had contacted him via Instagram, because he needed a place to do it, and why not? “It’s not that working in a salon is by design boring, but people don’t challenge themselves,” Gordon says. “And if you suddenly get two very talented people together in a room, looking at you completely differently and giving you a chance to look amazing and you go for it, it probably does more good than five years of therapy!”
Hairstylist, photographer, product creator, and filmmaker are all hats that Gordon—who grew up around his mother’s London hair salon—has worn over the years, but fundamentally, he sees himself as a conduit for creativity. “It’s not really a business—the stylists here get paid through their own clients. I’m just hosting the thing,” he said. “I’m a producer…and a bit of a teacher. And because it’s very sincere, because I do love talent, it’s nice.” Gordon describes a scene from a documentary he watched recently on music mogul David Geffen, where a confluence of musicians had taken over Geffen’s house. “Clive Davis was laughing like, ‘David! What are all these people doing?’ You know, in his kitchen, in his pool,” Gordon quips. “And then I walk around my kitchen and everyone’s hanging out eating pizza and I think, Oh wait, that’s me!”
Hairstory Studio is now taking invitation-only appointments for private clients. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
French perfume house Annick Goutal has already established itself as a valuable player in the luxury fragrance market throughout U.S. department stores. And now it’s hiking up its presence across the pond with the opening of its first-ever stand-alone American boutique. With twelve brick-and-mortar shops in Europe, this original New York space marks a milestone in the brand’s storied 33-year-old history.
“It was one of my mother’s dreams to have a shop in New York, so after all this time I’m very happy to have it,” said Camille Goutal, daughter of Annick, who grabbed the reins of the perfumery after her mother’s passing in 1999. Opening next door to Magnolia Bakery in the West Village makes this location a literal feast for the senses. “This area was my first choice,” revealed Goutal. “I wanted a scene that was trendy, and this neighborhood looks a bit like France in a way, with the small buildings and nice shopping.”
Inside, one-of-a-kind furnishings reflect the contemporary spirit of the Big Apple, while still preserving the brand’s romantic Parisian roots. “It’s a unique design, but everything comes from France,” she affirmed. Decor highlights include a floating, sculptural steel table and a gold butterfly-emblazoned moucharabieh screened wall. “The butterfly is the symbol of the brand, so it was important to have [that screen] specially made for us,” explained Goutal. The pretty papillon motif can also be found in carved decorations that form the backdrop of the fragrance displays.
As for future plans, Goutal says she anticipates Annick Goutal’s continued expansion throughout NYC but isn’t interested in world domination anytime soon. “Maybe we’ll open a second [spot] on the Upper East Side one day to appeal to our more classical clients, since this store caters to the very trendy ones,” she suggested. “But there’s no timeline on that. We prefer to take our time and go step by step.” Similar to the life cycle of a butterfly, the brand’s mascot, all beautiful things take time.
397 Bleecker Street, New York, NY 10014, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; annickgoutal.com
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.