Jet-Set Bohemian: Designer-Driven Spas

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Jet-Set Bohemian: Designer-Driven Spas

Running out of the métro, I turn along the Avenue Montaigne and start scanning the buildings lining either side of the street. Despite its location just off of the Champs-Elysées in Paris’ eighth arrondissement, this is not a street I know well. Perfectly manicured trees flank either side of the avenue that’s made a name for itself as one of the city’s most luxurious, home to labels like Louis Vuitton and Chanel. In 1946, French designer Christian Dior looked to this street for his headquarters, presenting his first collection along the infamous staircase at 30, Avenue Montaigne, a spot that still inspires the house’s designers today.

PlazaAtheneeDiorInstitutcourtesyofJe?ro?meGallandpourChristianDiorParfums.jpg Photo courtesy of Jerome Galland pour Christian Dior Parfums

I’m looking for Dior, but not this one. Next door, I spot the bellhops standing outside the gilded doors of the Hôtel Plaza Athénée, one of Paris’ five-star palaces, where Christian Dior was counted as a regular. As I’m ushered inside the marble-lined lobby with its oversized chandeliers and sky-high columns, I make my way to the concierge. “I have a rendez-vous at the spa,” I say. “Ah, oui,” the tall, waif-like woman responds, as if I was Ali Baba and uttered the right password to grant entry to the thieves’ cave of treasure.

PlazaAtheneeDiorInstitutspacourtesyofJe?ro?meGallandpourChristianDiorParfums.jpg Photo courtesy of Jerome Galland pour Christian Dior Parfums

As she leads me to the end of the hall, a sign points down toward the Dior Institut, the only one in Europe, which just so happens to be accessed by a spiral staircase not unlike the one sitting in the designer’s headquarters next door. Screens stream the latest runway shows along the walls and a round, mosaic-lined pool divides the reception from the relaxation room. I’m whisked to the changing rooms, switch out my all-black ensemble for a soft white robe, and take a seat in one of the cream-colored leather chaise lounges in the salon. While sipping tea, the attendant walks over with a tray of perfume vials. “Are you interested in a scent that’s more sensual or floral?” she asks, passing each of the signature Dior fragrances under my nose for a whiff. My nose leads me to the more sensual J’adore. Throughout the hour-long Dior Prestige Grand Facial Treatment, a made-to-measure facial that’s done with just as much precision as Dior’s couturiers crafting gowns, that decision right there was the most challenging I had to make.

SPAMetropoleByGivenchycourtesyofSpaMetropolebyGivenchy.jpg Photo courtesy of Spa Metropole by Givenchy

While the Dior Institut debuted nearly a decade ago, haute spas around France and Monaco are just now getting a revamp, re-opening with a new concept devoted entirely to fashion’s most celebrated designers. In February, Monte-Carlo’s Hôtel Metropole opened the principality’s first Givenchy spa. Designed by award-winning French designer Didier Gomez (who has also worked with the likes of Yves Saint-Laurent and Céline), the Spa Metropole by Givenchy is swathed in shades of black and gold for a look just as minimalist chic as the designer’s gowns. The 10 treatment rooms also take on a couture-influenced design, with white embossed walls modeled after Givenchy’s lacey numbers.

SpaMetropolebyGivenchyTreatmentRoomcourtesyofSpaMetropolebyGivenchy.jpg Photo courtesy of Spa Metropole by Givenchy

Heralding Hubert de Givenchy’s wellness philosophy, “The secret to elegance is being yourself,” each of the beauty brand’s products weaved into the rituals are part of a personalized experience designed to bring out the best of your natural beauty. As you enter, you’ll be presented with an array of Givenchy fragrances, choosing one that’s lightly sprayed on a pocket square and yours for the taking to make your spa day a perfume-filled one.

While the spa doubles as a beauty boutique showcasing all of the brand’s makeup and skincare lines, it’s also taking Givenchy’s role in the perfume world one step further with the creation of L’Atelier de Givenchy, a Monaco-based collection of 11 fragrances.

After selecting your scent, opt for one of the spa’s signature treatments like the anti-ageing, wrinkle-reducing “L’Intemporel” facial or super nourishing Celestial Body Interlude deep exfoliating scrub and wrap. If you want something exclusive to Monaco, go for one of two new treatments created just for the Metropole, such as the two-hour “Le Soin Noir Renaissance Intégrale” ritual designed around Givenchy’s black algae sap-based Le Soin Noir skincare line, which weaves in the revitalizing powers of the sea.

Last summer after shutting its doors completely for a four-year, $200 million renovation, the Ritz Paris re-opened with the world’s first CHANEL spa, dedicated to the designer who called this hotel home for over 30 years. Inspired by Mademoiselle Chanel’s rue Cambon apartment, the spa’s five cream-colored rooms filled with frescos and chinoiserie lead out to the hotel’s iconic indoor neo-classic swimming pool, with chaise lounges shielded by silk drapes.

Take your pick of five massage oils inspired by the designer’s most famous perfumes (of course no. 5 is on the list) and then sit back for a holistic East-meets-West approach to massage, which blends the best of Chanel’s beauty products for a treatment that can linger on for up to three hours. If you don’t feel radiant, replenished and ready to hit the Hemingway Bar next door post-treatment, a quick 20-minute “Touch of Beauty” Chanel makeup session with one of the expert artists is sure to do the trick.

Lane Nieset is Paste’s Jet-Set Bohemian columnist and a freelance writer covering all things travel from her home base in Nice, France.