PARIS — Anne Fontaine — the doyenne of the white shirt — has gotten into beauty.
She said her signature skin-care line and spa, making its debut in the basement of her newly minted boutique on the tony Rue Saint-Honoré here, was a natural evolution.
"Before I went into fashion, I really wanted to become a biologist; it was a dream for me," she explained. Fontaine said she went into designing shirts instead because her husband's family is in the business.
But nowadays, Fontaine can turn her fantasy into reality, thanks to a percolating fashion business, which has reportedly reached $100 million.
"I very much like the idea of protecting the planet," she said. "It's not only important to give people natural things to buy, but it's important that people think about taking care of themselves."
That's where the spa project comes in. The sleek, 5,920-square-foot space — dominated by natural materials and hues — was designed by Andrée Putman. A feeling of calm emanates everywhere, from the rough-hewn stone walls to the white couches and chairs to the large glass doors sealing off the waiting lounge.
Here, alongside her beauty brand, called Cosmetique Bio Anne Fontaine, a small clothing collection also is sold, including shirts made out of organic cotton. Fontaine handpicks artists to show here, as well. At present, Marie Taillefer's photographs are on display.
After passing through the large glass doors, there's a meandering hallway off of which are numerous types of treatment rooms. Soothing rectangular lights — whose colors are interchangeable depending on the massage being done — hover above the tables. There's an entire space devoted to a bath and a Jacuzzi for two, and there are areas for facials and foot soaks.
In some places, spaces may be morphed by movable walls to divvy up areas for further privacy.
On the walls of certain rooms are shards of ceramic.
"They give a flash of memory," said Putman, who explained that she was inspired by a wall she once saw in a village in Spain.
During a walk-through, she calls the spa "a little bit mysterious."Fontaine says her "passion for fabrics" has segued into her treatment formulations and massage practices. To come up with her products, which are used in her spa's services, she worked for two years with a laboratory in Southern France specializing in organics.
Fontaine was particularly concerned with making her products smell good — not always easy, given the nature of organic formulas, which often have a harsh odor.
Her 11-unit line is divided into two parts. There's Naturel de Lin, an all-natural treatment collection, and Performance de la Soie, which uses silk protein to help regenerate cells as well as moisturize and protect the skin.
Massage techniques at the Anne Fontaine spa mix numerous practices from countries around the world, including Thailand, Sweden, Japan and her native Brazil.
Taking a cue from the latter is the Voodoo Treatment, inspired by tribal dances and done to Brazilian music, in which a therapist first uses quick hand movements to tone a client's muscles and then switches to slow ones to promote relaxation. Silk Dream involves swathing clients in the fabric while a wooden embroidery spindle is worked over feet for reflexology. There's also an After Shopping massage to work those shoulder and back muscles fatigued after a day trolling the shops.
While company executives would not discuss sales projections, industry sources estimate the spa will generate between $7 million and $9 million for the spa and boutique combined in first-year retail sales.
Looking ahead, Anne Fontaine plans to open a new 7,770-square-foot boutique-spa — covering three levels and including four treatment rooms — on New York's Madison Avenue next year.
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