Accelerating the full-body salon concept

Times Staff Writer

Forget watching them on TV. Extreme makeovers will soon be available at one-stop beauty shops offering everything from pedicures to tummy tucks, highlights to Botox injections. Richard Rakowski, the venture capitalist behind the Advanced Aesthetics Institute, the West Palm Beach, Fla., flagship clinic he says will be the model for the next revolution in beauty, announced this week that he has acquired the Georgette Klinger spas and salons in Beverly Hills, Costa Mesa and seven other cities, which will be the vehicles for the expansion of his concept.

Two years ago Rakowski woke up on his 50th birthday, got an eyelift and decided to open AAI, the first network of total body salons and spas. In December, the company caught the attention of Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, which invested $20 million in the new aesthetics/medical services sector.

Georgette Klinger, who died in January, opened her first spa on Madison Avenue in 1941.

Her pioneering approach to facials was to treat the skin as a living organ that could be affected by diet, exercise and herbal treatments.


“With over 5 million facials done to date, they have a strong name and they are known for quality,” Rakowski said Tuesday. “It’s a terrific entry point. And they are open in our exact cities. What we did was identify vanity markets, where there is a heavy concentration on appearance, so this is not a coincidence.”

He expects to know how and when the Klinger locations will evolve within the next few weeks, though at least a handful of the facilities will offer skin care assessment and cosmetic surgery, cosmetic dentistry and dermatology.

All procedures would be coordinated by an aesthetic concierge, and a full makeover could cost as much as $40,000. (AAI has a medical board of directors to oversee clinical activities, including Dr. Peter Fodor, associate clinical professor of plastic surgery at UCLA Medical Center; Dr. Mark Rubin, associate professor of dermatology at UC San Diego who practices at the Lasky Clinic in Beverly Hills; and William Dorfman, DDS, a cosmetic dentist seen regularly on “Extreme Makeover.”)

Some might find streaking hair magenta irreconcilable with trusting a doctor with liposuction in the same shop. To make it work, Rakowski said, there must be three distinct environments.


“The medical side has to be credible and safe. It needs to look like the Four Seasons merging with a Swiss clinic. The reason is that Sharpie boxes and fluorescent lights are frightening for clients. They don’t want messages of fear.

“The facial studio must be unique,” he said, “with Enya music and aromatherapy.

“The hair salon has to be more high energy. But our model is not ‘God, you look gorgeous,’ because we are taking a more scientific approach to the business.”

Rakowski’s idea of the future is a world populated with Adonises more beautiful than ever imagined on any silver screen.

“The everyday person now has access to tools that Hollywood never had access to. What I think is the big story now is after-Hollywood. There’s a lot of talent, both in makeup and hair, and bringing that talent together from around the world is exciting. Beauty is not fashion-oriented now, it’s science-oriented.”

So where’s the next capital of beauty? “Wherever I decide to put my research facility,” Rakowski said. “Palm Beach or Dallas.”