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The Institute: Marilyn Monroe’s Favorite Spa

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Dr. Laszlo created the cosmetics brand that bears his name at the request of clients like Greta Garbo, Ava Gardner, Grace Kelly, and Jackie Kennedy.


The thousands of people who walk through Manhattan’s West Broadway Avenue would never guess that at number 382, behind a tiny black sign that reads ”The Institute”, is one of the most renowned spas in the Big Apple.

The Institute Spa
The Institute, New York.

With a spiral red leather staircase, and a huge chandelier made up of more than 20,000 Swarovski crystals, the spa looks like the stage for a 1950’s film, and one can expect to see Marilyn Monroe making a grand entrance. Nothing can be further from reality, even though there is a relationship between the glittering star and the salon. The spa uses Dr. Erno Laszlo products, the same Marilyn used to maintain her beauty, especially the 3-9 Phormula, created by the Hungarian dermatologist to disguise a scar on the actress’ belly. It is a combination of marine collagen extracts and tamanu oil.

Dr. Erno Laszlo was born in Hungary in 1897, and was considered the dermatologist to the stars. More that 40 years ago, Dr. Laszlo created the cosmetics brand that bears his name at the request of clients like Greta Garbo, Ava Gardner, Grace Kelly and Jackie Kennedy.

Charles Denton bought the legendary brand in 2011, and moved The Institute from its original location, 677 Fifth Avenue (where Fendi House is now) to 382 West Broadway. The original spa was known as “The House of Silence” due to its strict confidentiality code. In the new Broadway location, the art deco décor has been preserved, and the three floors are designed to make clients feel more at home than in a spa. The exclusivity has been retained, and to receive any services you must be a member. The cost of membership runs around $3,000 per year, or $1,000 monthly.

The spa has six spacious and relaxing treatment rooms, distributed around the octagonal first floor. All have cutting edge equipment and technology, which makes every visit a real treat. At this spa, the clients do not pay for a treatment. Instead they buy the time. The Institute upgrades the modern concept of spa to become a place where clients receive custom-made treatments designed for their particular skins.

The staff is under the supervision of acclaimed plastic surgeon Scott Wells, who wanted to customize each service, from facials made with the famous serums created by Laszlo, to body treatments and dermaplaning.

The Institute Spa
The Institute, New York.

The composition of Laszlo’s cosmetic products has been upgraded. Fine examples the Sea Mud soap, the Shake-It serum, the new formulation of the restorative and regenerative cream created for Marilyn Monroe in the 1960s, or the night cream Active Phelityl that Monroe liked so much. It was reported that a bottle of the cream was found on a bedside table the day she died.

With the opening of The Institute, the brand initiates a new course of aesthetic treatments. On the 50th anniversary of the death of the actress, the cosmetics company pays tribute to the star with an exhibition of personal items that have only been seen in photographs, like the ones that grace the pages of Gerry Badger’s book Marilyn (Magnum).

 


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