After a Fashion

AAF takes a well deserved break at a local spa. Oooooh, that feels goooooood.

THE BEAUTY BRIGADE Like discovering an enchanted secret grotto, stepping into the Sanctuary Day Spa at 3206 Guadalupe (374-1010) offers solace and safety in a world that can be abrasive to the skin, as well as the soul. The salon and spa is the brainchild of Vidal Sassoon veteran Deklynd Channing, and his business partner, Monique Maley, and offers complete beauty care in a lush and tranquil atmosphere -- though lushness and tranquility have been a tough order to fill. Originally set to open their Daya Salon & Day Spa at the location next door, they worked tirelessly with their team of dedicated professionals to create the perfect environment -- only to have the establishment burn to the ground two weeks before their November opening. While Daya is now scheduled for a fall, 2001, opening, in the meantime, they have created Sanctuary. Based on the same tenets that they will expand upon with Daya, Sanctuary has a mandate of total customer service. A client could conceivably have their hair done, have a massage (and have their baby massaged!), have a facial, and take a yoga class, among so many other treatments. A full day of beauty, to be sure, but, as Channing says, "We don't believe in the 'Day of Beauty' approach; it is not something that can be achieved in a day. Beauty is an ongoing process that begins inside each person. It's not unlike a gym: You can't go just once a year and expect results."

That ongoing process may begin with a massage. Sanctuary offers a wide variety of massage services: therapeutic, deep tissue, pre- and post-natal, personalized aromatherapy massage, ayurvedic, mineral mud mask, body bronzing, and warm river stone therapy. To experience the many delights Sanctuary has to offer, I brought my friend and guinea pig, Gail. In a room redolent with fragrance from candles and oils, and accompanied by a trickling fountain and dreamy music, the masseuse, like all of Sanctuary's staff, expressed a sincere interest in each client's needs. She set a calm and soothing tone, soliciting answers about which areas may need special attention. "Choreography" is how Gail described it, with combinations of hot and cold stones placed strategically for maximum benefits. Starting slowly and building in intensity, the smooth flat stones are slid across the body from the palms of the hands to the feet, with a strangely comforting clacking sound, and never leave the surface of the body as they travel. The body is worked with warm oil, and as the feet are massaged, warm pebbles are slowly placed in between the toes to aid circulation. In a trance-like state, you are turned onto stomach, and a similar process is repeated. Says Gail the guinea pig, "So serene and tranquil, the masseuse has the patience of a saint to perform such incredibly detail-oriented therapy. Amazing, enjoyable, and definitely recommended. A great gift, but not for the faint of heart."

Says Channing, "If you're having a bad-skin day, no hairstyle will help," so we moved to another room for a different treatment. The facial was the perfect follow-up to the massage, and began in an incredibly comfortable-looking bed with crisp cotton sheets. Again, the atmosphere encouraged total relaxation. Many products were applied, each with a specific function, and Gail reports that, "everything smelled heavenly." The hands were exfoliated, treated with warm, fragrant oils, wrapped in hot towels, and slid into heated mitt. The feet were also exfoliated, treated warm oils and wrapped. "It felt totally indulgent," said Gail. "It felt glamorous -- like Norma Desmond -- to receive all the attention."

"Feeling glamorous" is obviously an ayurvedic state that probably has a different name. An impressive number of other facial treatments are offered, including the one-hour "party facial." Though we were also scheduled for an aromatherapy, head massage, and shampoo in the capable hands of Noel, time ran short, and we declined. But the styling chairs were busy with happy clients enjoying any number of hair treatments. With such great response, Channing, Maley, and crew should have a hit on their hands.

THE FASHION AGENDA The Designers' Guild of Austin presents Beguiled: A Spring Fashion Salon, April 22, 4pm, at the new Design Center of Austin. Tickets are $10 and $20, available in advance only at Pink, Therapy, and Blackmail. On the following Thursday, UT Fashion Program presents their Annual Fashion Spectacular, with a theme of Art in Fashion, April 26, 8pm, at the Erwin Center. Admission is free.

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