Fabled beauty

Comfortably installed at 205, rue Saint-Honoré, in Paris, Australian brand Aesop takes you on a journey.

Think beauty salon, and images of watery ablutions and steam-drenched rooms, soakings and spongings spring to mind. Immersion in a gleaming tiled marble cocoon amid blueish shadows and clinical white lights. At times, the ambient sound of waterfalls, or trickling streams or seagulls crying. “Let your mind wander!” it screams. More often than not, there’s a pool at the end of a corridor, a sauna in the changing room, a steam bath by the showersolid structures giving substance to the damp environment.

But that was before this. The Australian brand Aesop gives a whole new meaning to the experience. It has a way of turning a beauty treatment into a manifesto. Their Paris pop-up salon (closing date now postponed to mid-July), entirely devoted to facials, is niched in a tiny apartment accessed via labyrinthine staircases. The door opens. It’s just you and the beautician. Voices are hushed. You’re invited to leave your shoes in the entranceway. Your toes sink into the plush carpet. You glance around: the decor by Paulin, Paulin, Paulin® infuses the spirit of Pierre Paulin in every corner, from sofa to lamps and shelving to door frames, in a 1970s haze of tobacco, ebony, bronze and brass tones, soft textiles and dim lighting. In the vestibule, you’re greeted by a mound of dried fruit on a round platter, reminiscent of Berber hospitality. Did you just take off somewhere? The journey continues with the rough texture of the cotton sarong you’ve slipped into after undressing, the smoked glass carafe, the studied dimness, the huge raised bed that’s so high you have to step up to it, like a king about to be crowned; the linen sheets, the mohair throw tucking you in. Calling this a custom treatment, sometimes using products that exist here only, simply goes without saying.

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