A look at the Erno Laszlo Institute.

NEW YORK — Erno Laszlo, an upscale skin care brand that enjoyed a heyday from the Forties through the Sixties, is returning to its roots with a new retail concept.<br><br>With Bergdorf Goodman’s beauty floor as its backdrop, an Erno Laszlo...

NEW YORK — Erno Laszlo, an upscale skin care brand that enjoyed a heyday from the Forties through the Sixties, is returning to its roots with a new retail concept.

This story first appeared in the January 16, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

With Bergdorf Goodman’s beauty floor as its backdrop, an Erno Laszlo space featuring skin consultations and services is set to officially open Monday. Dubbed the Erno Laszlo Institute, the 300-square-foot alcove was inspired by the original Erno Laszlo Institute, which the late Hungarian dermatologist opened in Manhattan in 1939 and operated at 677 Fifth Avenue until the late Sixties, prior to his death in 1973. The area at Bergdorf’s will feature signature treatments and massages in two private rooms manned by aestheticians.

The Erno Laszlo brand, which was acquired two years ago by Cradle Holdings, today generates more than $30 million at retail, or about a third of Cradle’s total sales, according to industry estimates. Since the acquisition, Erno Laszlo’s U.S. distribution has been reduced from 300 doors to about 150 currently, including Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom. Cradle’s other holdings include Penhaligon’s and L’Artisan Parfumer, which the firm acquired after buying Erno Laszlo.

“The mission is to resurrect Erno Laszlo and [put it in] a preeminent position in skin care,” said Jane Terker, president and chief executive officer of Cradle Holdings, who contended that the space in Bergdorf’s is the starting point. “It’s an oasis,” she added, “where [customers] can come and relax.”

Industry sources estimate the space could do more than $1 million in first-year sales volume, which would equal one of Erno Laszlo’s top five doors. The Erno Laszlo space is nestled between La Mer, Chanel, Chantecaille and Nars locations at the foot of an escalator leading down to Bergdorf’s beauty floor. Acqua di Parma, which used to occupy the space, has been moved. Two private treatment rooms in the rear — complete with running water — were built in formerly unfinished space. Services will include three facials as well as the so-called Laszlo Lift, which uses an aesthetician-operated device designed to improve circulation, stimulate collagen and elastin production and plump the lips.

Terker is eyeing the West Coast and Europe for a second Erno Laszlo institute, but acknowledged that the former, most likely the Los Angeles area, would be the first choice within the next 12 months. About 20 percent of Erno Laszlo’s sales are done internationally, where the brand is carried in Harrods and Harvey Nichols in London and in Printemps and Le Bon Marche in Paris. Germany is a big market for Erno Laszlo, according to Terker, as is Italy. She added that Rome, Paris and London are desirable markets for the institute concept.

New launches within the 55-item Erno Laszlo product line include two items developed for use in services at Bergdorf’s. The Timeless Concentrate Age Preventative Phacial, $68 for 2 oz., and the Sea Mud Exfoliating Phacial, $42 for 2 oz., will be launched at Bergdorf’s in April, after which they will roll out to Erno Laszlo’s other doors.