Byline: Merle Ginsberg

LOS ANGELES--The latest Anastasia to capture Hollywood's imagination isn't the Russian princess--or the upcoming Twentieth Century Fox animated movie about her. She's a real-life Rumanian cosmetologist.
With the opening of her new salon on Bedford Drive--aptly called Anastasia--Anastasia Soare has become the mistress of Hollywood's golden arches. In a town where no one reads and the image on the screen is all-important, faces speak volumes. And so the curve of one's brow matters.
"I am the perfect example of the American dream," she says, standing in the middle of her own salon dressed in a perfectly tailored black pantsuit with gold sandals. "When I got here, I couldn't even speak English."
After studying art and architecture in Romania, she left her homeland for Los Angeles eight years ago. She picked up some language skills and got a job shaping eyebrows in a Melrose Place salon called Giovanna Uta. Two years later, she had so many clients, she rented her own space in Beverly Hills. And after five years there--working almost 12 hours a day, six days a week--she had more than 2,000 clients, including Ellen Barkin, Elle Macpherson, Jennifer Lopez and Cameron Diaz. Besides the marquee names, Anastasia attracted models, makeup artists and the ladies who fly in from New York, London, San Francisco, Hong Kong and Mexico to get the perfect brow. They all refer to her by first name only.
"I know it's lucky for me that the eyebrow has become more important in beauty in the last few years," says Anastasia. "But I have never cared if it's in fashion or not. I was doing the eyebrow arch when no one in L.A. was thinking about brows. It gives you an instant eyebrow lift. My clients become converts because they see very quickly the difference it makes on their face."
Using wax, tweezers and scissors, Anastasia fashions a brow that frames the eyes and other features.
"When you're dealing with the face and bones, you have to do symmetrical work," she says. "That's why I switched from buildings to faces. Faces are more creative. Believe me, my art school and architecture background come in very handy. But of course, you either have a hand or you don't."
Her salon also features a hair stylist and cutter, a colorist, a facialist and a manicurist/waxer. The main room of the salon is all soft peaches, ambers and golds: the curtains are gold raw silk from Silk Trading Co. on LaBrea and the antique wooden desk, antique hair stations and lamps come directly from the home of Anastasia and her boyfriend and co-manager, Andre Popa, a former restaurant owner and real estate developer.
"We ordered incredible custom furniture," Anastasia recalls, "and right before the salon opened, the designer of it simply disappeared. So we basically moved in everything from our own house at the last minute. Now all we have left at home is the bedroom furniture."
Although it may raise eyebrows in some parts of the country, many of Anastasia's clients are men. Gabriel Byrne is a regular.
"Most men have a unibrow," Anastasia says with a laugh. "But they don't want to come here, they are so scared. They're afraid I'll make them look like drag queens. But their girlfriends make them come, or their agents. You need to look groomed for the movies. They get really hooked and wind up very consistent clients. But when I wax them, they scream more than the girls!"
Now that she's achieved one goal of the grooming world--giving her name to a salon-- Anastasia has set her sights on another. She's planning to launch a line of hair and beauty products bearing her name.
"I am surprisingly not very competitive with the other people in L.A. who do what I do," she claims. "I suppose many people in this town do brows. But as in the art world, there is only one Picasso."

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