When she found out I worked for NAILS, my friend Julia from ballet class couldn’t wait to tell me about Masao, her pedicurist at Menage a Trois, a rather ritzy Beverly Hills salon. “His pedicures are pure bliss. They run an hour and a half,” she raved. “He also makes house calls and he’s hinted he has some pretty famous clients.”
I called to make an appointment with Masao but his busy schedule and mine just wouldn’t jibe, so instead I made an appointment for a manicure with Lilliana. I figured I’d get some quick tending and still have plenty of time to do some shopping along Rodeo Drive – window shopping that is.
The salon was humming when I arrived on a Tuesday afternoon. Two full-time receptionists were at the helm of this full-service salon with 13 hairstylists and five nail technicians. I asked to see a salon menu and was a little surprised when the receptionist told me they didn’t have one since everyone charges differently for their services.
Lilliana greeted me warmly and right on time. In her charming Romanian accent, she explained that she offers a half-hour basic manicure and a one-hour deluxe version with a hand treatment, warming mitts, and a longer lasting polish job. She also does Juliette manicures, but no artificial nail services. I opted for a plain vanilla (that’s my term) manicure.
An eight-year veteran, Lilliana told me that she finds natural nails more elegant and that she used to work at Jessica Nail Clinic in West Hollywood. She’s still very loyal to Jessica Cosmetics’ products and philosophies, sometimes even applying “natural tips” – other people’s nail clippings.
She thanked me for letting her know that I worked for NAILS the moment I sat down. She had been visited by Allure while back as part of a secret shopper undercover. The “client” didn’t reveal her identity until after the service. Of course, Lilliana passed with flying colors and she even got some calls from new clients when it came out.
Lilliana proved sweet and easy to talk to despite some initial shyness on both our parts. What endeared her to me the most was the three times she told me I had great nails. When she asked what I did to take care of them, I confessed I did very little, but explained that somehow working for NAILS and thinking about nails all day long had magically improved their look. She was doubtful about my theory.
A half-hour flew by and I was pleased with my perfect manicure topped with one of Jessica’s latest pinks. As I sat in the reception area waiting for my nails to dry I wished I had thought to make my check out in advance. I was also surprised to find that a salon with this volume didn’t accept credit cards.
My wait did give me the opportunity to meet one of the owners, William Escalera. I asked the obvious question: How did you come up with the name of the salon? He explained that the literal translation of the phrase “ménage a trois” is “house of three” and that the salon was the brainchild of three partners who couldn’t agree on a name.