There tend to be a lot of gratuitous photos of Marilyn Monroe out there in the world, but the ones that grace the walls of the newly opened Erno Lazslo Institute at 382 West Broadway in New York - along with a winding red leather staircase and a chandelier consisting of 20,000 crystals - are the real deal. Photos from the scene of her death show Marilyn Monroe had jars of Erno Laszlo creams by her bedside - she sought out the Hungarian dermatologist and skin expert when he came to Hollywood in the sixties - and they developed a close friendship that lasted many years. So the photos of her that deck these halls - fresh faced, cherubic and sexy - actually have relevance.
Monroe swore by the Erno Laszlo method of skincare - which included frequent face washing with his now-infamous black soap: an exfoliating sea mud that's famous for being black, for one thing - and for actually working - and truly clarifying the skin. Monroe also swore by Dr. Laszlo's serums - and it's both his treatments and his products that made him and his former institute in New York at Fifth Avenue and 56th St. (where Fendi is now located) favorites of Cecil Beaton, Paulette Godard, Greta Garbo (who also became a close friend), Jackie Kennedy and her sister Lee Radziwell - and even the Duchess of Windsor. Laszlo also famously treated Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly and Katharine Hepburn - and this was back in the day when there was so plastic surgery, no lasers, and even the makeup wasn't that good! These ladies truly had to have skin in excellent condition because the tricks of the trade we now have were not invented yet.
Fash Track, on a fast trip to frosty New York, indulged in a little derma-vacation at the Institute, and found it to be both a healing and an aesthetic treat. Sure, there are skin spas everywhere on the planet now - but how many have winding red leather staircases and crystal chandeliers? Also, how many have this Hollywood history? Literally, Marilyn's clear-skinned visage tickles every surface and mirror. It's worth viewing just for the decor, but all the products are sold here (and online and at Saks), they are surprisingly well-priced (we loved the foundation) and the staff is incredibly well informed about their contents.
And - best news of all - we hear the Erno Laszlo Institute is now seeking an L.A. locale for its next freestanding venture.