THE BUZZ GROWS LOUDER AND THE GOODIES PILE HIGHER AT HOTEL SUITES ALL AROUND TOWN.
Byline: Kavita Daswani / Rose Apodaca Jones
With such attractions as star pluckers and Mercedes housing mobile spas, the bar is being raised higher for those trying to lure the masses to corporate-sponsored beauty suites. Every year, more major brands pitch camp in a hotel, sending out invites to celebrities, television personalities and stylists to come by and sample an increasingly sophisticated range of products and treatments.
And they came in droves. L’Ermitage Hotel in Beverly Hills, as always, received the most traffic, and newcomer Chanel Studio Maquillage was among the most sought-after, thanks to its shiny black gift bags — each of which held a pink Frederic Fekkai case filled with $500 of makeup from both brands.
“It’s the debut of Chanel partaking in the Oscar beauty extravaganza,” said celebrity makeup artist Susan Sterling. She and her team saw Heidi Klum and Lauren Graham, among others. “These things are always a build-up, but we’re getting a good response. People loved to be surprised by Chanel.”
Chanel Studio Maquillage came to Los Angeles after participating in the Toronto Film Festival last year. That festival has also been a base for the Vidal Sassoon and MAC teams, who returned to L’Ermitage this time, taking up a larger suite to accommodate their international makeup artists.
Upstairs, New York hair guru Peter Coppola personally bowed in a supersuite that also housed a team of aestheticians, manicurists and makeup artists from Helena Rubenstein. The beauty brand offered two tiers of gift bags: one stocked with $200 worth of product; the other for VIPs at $500, which included certificates for treatments. And if that wasn’t enough, a Cadillac was always on hand to transport artists and clients.
For the first time, men could be buffed, scrubbed, shaved and polished. The Johnnie Walker Blue Gentlemen’s Suite, staffed by a Fred Segal Beauty crew, ended up the most spa-like corner of the hotel since it avoided the chaos of the other suites by scheduling appointments.
London-based hairstylist Charles Worthington set up shop in the Garden Suite at L’Ermitage for the second time, and was wowed by the buzz.
“It’s been very busy,” he said. “It’s a fantastic atmosphere, and even more frenetic than when I was here for the Golden Globes, when people seemed more low-key and relaxed.”
Worthington was doing the hair of model Kirsty Hume and her husband, Donovan Leitch, as well as actress Blythe Danner, among many others. In one corner, patrons could get manicures and pedicures from Kelvin Saint Phom of Fred Segal Beauty, while make-up artist Hillary Clark worked her magic beside him.
Few brands made as lavish a statement as Estee Lauder did at the Four Seasons. From its hotel headquarters, the brand offered its “Mobile Oscar Spa” treatments for the first time. Members of the company’s “Dream Team” (including star plucker Anastasia Soare, makeup artist Terri Apanaswicz, hair stylist Philip Carreon, cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Karyn Grossman and mani masters Marsha Bialo and Terry Hunter) traveled to Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Lopez and Sharon Stone in their official ride, a Mercedes SUV.
“This takes what we have offered in the past to a whole new level,” said Merkel. “We’ve been able to offer a variety of treatments to celebrities in the privacy of their homes.”
The gift bag has obviously become a significant enticement in getting VIPs to the suites. Worthington’s included full-size bottles of his “Seeing is Believing” conditioner and a gold sachet containing his “Head in the Clouds” hair fragrance. In the same suite, Sephora handed out Lorac’s Quick Fix cosmetics, as well as Dr. Perricone’s mini face-lift products and Bourjois mascara.
But the ultimate bag came from, no surprise, Estee Lauder in the form of its super-deluxe goodies for the best actress and best supporting actress nominees. Worth some $10,000 in total, including the cost of treatments, the packages also included Tse cashmere robes and that most crucial of Oscar night kickers: a pair of Manolo Blahnik shoes.