Every city has its wellness rituals. Where Madrid has siestas, Helsinki has saunas. Where Rishikesh has yoga, Shanghai has tai chi; and while Kyoto hosts tea ceremonies, Montrealers do brunch.
At least, that’s what Rose Gwet, founder of luxury skin-care brand Luxcey, observed when she moved from Paris to Montreal on a cold day in January almost 10 years ago. “I discovered brunches on Sundays with close friends when I started to live here,” she says. “It became a wonderful ritual for me personally.”
The popularity of brunch in Montreal, a city where even in the dead of winter people line up for breakfast poutine and fluffy crêpes américaines, was in part why Gwet decided to offer Beauty Brunches. At these rendezvous, the midmorning meal serves as an entrée for bilingual conversations about wellness and home rituals, and transitions into a mini-course on the skin-care treatment du jour, whether a facial or gua sha, a traditional Chinese healing massage.
Reservations are limited to a maximum of eight guests so that the holistic experience maintains an intimate, roundtable feel and Gwet can tailor advice for each attendee. Tickets cost $58 Canadian ($44 U.S.) per person.
The Beauty Brunches were also motivated by an increased demand for skin-care advice. Canadian cosmetics sales soared to a reported $1.63 million last year, and the craze has impelled more Canadians to Google “skin-care routine” than ever. “Our clients are looking for rituals and ways to spend quality time with themselves,” says Gwet. “But they don’t always have time to search and learn how to implement them in their daily lives.”
For Gwet, an effective way to introduce new routines is to anchor them to your regular rituals. In Montreal, the immovable Sunday feast provides this reliable anchor. In Paris, she may have chosen the evening apéro.
Luxcey’s all-natural line pairs easily with meals. In fact, the body scrub, Noah, was inspired by her aunt’s recipe for peach pie, which features coconut essence as a signature ingredient. To cater Beauty Brunches, Gwet—a self-described epicurean—invites local chefs and asks them to use her products as prompts. For example, at a recent brunch, chef Benoît Cisecky of Les Garçons Traiteur prepared gravlax infused with jasmine, juniper, and sesame aromas found in the Zoé body oil elixir, served with green pea puree, crispy seasonal vegetables, and cocoa croustillant. Noah is unsurprisingly a favored inspiration for dessert, as well as the fruity hydrating mist Loni.
Gwet first discovered the importance of self-care rituals when she moved from her mother’s ancestral village of Obout, near Mbalmayo in Cameroon, back to Paris. “Coming back to France after five years really destabilized me,” she says.
Bouts of eczema and acne at age 16, as well as bad experiences with cure-all skin-care products, led her to concoct her first cream, a moisturizing balm made from palm kernel butter produced by women in Obout. She named the salve Emma after her father, Emmanuel, and carried familial nomenclature up through the Luxcey launch seven years ago.
Since then she’s partnered with Spa St. James at the Ritz-Carlton Montreal and several local and international boutiques, though the website remains the biggest point-of-sale.
The success of Beauty Brunches among women of all skin types and ages—and men, who account for 30% of Luxcey’s business, has spawned a growing retinue of repeat customers and has pushed Gwet to devise new gourmand experiences. In the summer, sojourns at La Bullerie vineyard in St.-Joseph-du-Lac, Quebec, invited guests to wine, dine, and refine, and closed with stretches guided by former Cirque du Soleil artist Laïla Tremblay. With winter nearing, Gwet is brewing up a hearty cabin retreat, which promises to prove that cold-weather care runs more than skin deep.
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