To See And Be Seen
By Rukhmini Punoose
Feel like you've got-ten all the fashion mileage you can out of your scarf, belt or purse? Try a new pair of custom glasses--and never mind if your vision is 20/20. Boutique opticians are springing up around the world, and they are definitely less concerned with how you see than with the way you look. Robert Marc started the trend 20 years ago, when he opened his first custom-glasses shop in New York. Among his early memorable designs: Woody Allen's signature black-frame glasses. Marc now has nine stores in the United States and sells his wares at luxury opticians from Europe to Asia. He has designed frames for Julianne Moore, Uma Thurman, Nicole Kidman and Cameron Diaz ($295 to $1,295; 212-319-2000).
In many eyewear boutiques, no two pairs are alike. Designers cater to consumer tastes, using unique materials like buffalo horn, rhinestone, leather, silk, wood--as well as white gold and diamonds--or sourcing rare antique gold frames from the 1930s. "We understand our clients and the circles they move in," says Brenda Connelly, owner and designer of Niche Optical Tailor Ltd. in Glasgow. "We also understand contours of the face and design frames based on individual bone structures" (500 to 1,000 pounds; 44-141-553-2077).
In some cases, it's hard to tell what they're selling. Adam Simmonds in London displays only 20 pairs of frames in a store that closely resembles a designer-jewelry boutique. Trained as an optician, Simmonds opened his shop five years ago, motivated by the gap in the market for exclusive, handcrafted frames of topnotch quality (200 to 800 pounds; 44-20-7813-1234).
While most boutiques design their own frames, some also retail niche designers. For instance, Anne et Valentin in Paris may be best-known for its customized three-color frames, which are dyed or laminated to suit a client's hair and eye color. But it also stocks high-end brands like Theo and IC! Berlin (150 to 400 euros; 331-4029-9301).
Frames have become such an essential fashion accessory that some customers get glasses designed to match different outfits. "We have customers who come in every year for handmade frames in silk and rhinestone that match the outfit they plan to wear to Ascot," says Rhonda Seeto, owner and optometrist at Isis in London (300 to 3,000 pounds; 44-20-7823-8080).
Fashionistas swear that eyewear creates 10 times the impression that a scarf or a watch can. So the next time you need a funky fashion accessory... head to the optician.
Food To Relax By
If you find stone massages passe, reflexology too cliche and herbal treatments too hippy-dippy, splurge on a spa treatment using materials that never go out of style: caviar, champagne and chocolate:
^ Book in for a caviar hair wash at Hari's Salon in London (harissalon.com). For 200 pounds you can get your hair treated with liquefied Iranian caviar, a manicure, a head-and-shoulder massage and--of course--caviar and champagne while you wait. Or try a caviar facial at the Mardavall Hotel & Spa in Mallorca (130 euros; starwoodspacollection.com) or the Assawan Spa and Health Club in Dubai (burj-al-arab.com/assawan).
^ The Oriental Spa Garden in Tenerife (orientalspagarden.com) does chocolate-oil massages; in Paris, the George V (fourseasons.com/ Paris) uses cocoa oil for deep-tissue massages.
^ The Spa at Pennyhill Park in Surrey, England (72 pounds; www.exclusivehotels.co.uk), offers a champagne foot soak, as does the Sea Island resort in Georgia (seaislandshorelines.com). Simply divine! --Ginanne Brownell
Technology: Must Love Robo-Dogs
Who needs a real pooch when you can adopt a robotic dog? These canines come with more tricks than Lassie--they sit up, bark, roll over, even play music. Which puppy wins best in show? good life unleashed them all. --Ramin Setoodeh