A thing of beauty may be a joy forever. But becoming one shouldn't take forever. It's hard enough to find time to eat dinner some days, much less indulge in hours at the salon or at a fitting for a dress you're not going to need for another month. So what's a procrastinating mortal to do, except ask someone else to help make up for lost time? With that in mind, we've assembled a coterie of talented stylists, aestheticians, repair experts, and couturiers whose stock-in-trade is getting you gorgeous at the eleventh hour -- be it for a benefit dinner tonight or your wedding next weekend.
Ménage à Trois
799 Madison Avenue, near 67th Street, second floor; 212-396-2514
This boutique has plenty of floaty slip dresses and soigné silk and wool suits for the ladies who lunch. But Wall Street workhorses with more than canapés on the mind also love the shop's convenience. Owners Kathleen and Therese custom-make everything from full-skirted ball gowns to
hand-painted halter tops (from $700) in two weeks. They'll even help you seek out to-die-for strappy sandals to top it all off.
Oscar Bond Salon & Spa
42 Wooster Street; 212-334-3777
The waiting-room scene is slightly surreal, with women swathed in foils and bathrobes checking their e-mail and stock portfolios on the store's computers. Of course, since many of the skin, hair, and waxing services take less than 30 minutes, clients barely log on before they're in and out. Other bikini waxers seem like heartless sadists after a session with Jennifer (from $25), who does the deed painlessly (well, almost) in under ten minutes.
At Bergdorf Goodman, 754 Fifth Avenue, at 58th Street; 212-872-2650
This salon's mini-facials and oxygen-mist treatments are a key weapon in the beauty arsenal of frequent travelers. But you don't have to be jet-lagged or world-weary to love them or the "Ultimate Hour" ($280) -- a seaweed body wrap, a facial, and reflexology performed simultaneously. Your skin will be so smooth, you won't mind having smelled like a sushi bar for the past hour.
At home preparing your acceptance speech? In a cab running red lights to your best friend's wedding? This Elizabeth Arden-trained makeup artist totes his 50 pounds of makeup everywhere. He'll create a clean, polished face in 5-10 minutes (from $150). And, as fans Sheryl Swoops and model/photographer Sigrid Rothe know, his friendly banter does wonders to calm those frazzled nerves.
498 Sixth Avenue, second floor; 212-989-3030
What better gift than a handmade sweater? If the gift-giver can't knit, almost anything. Avoid dropped stitches and forced thank-yous by ordering an expertly fashioned number from this cozy shop. It may not be your grandmother's knitwear, but it's the only place you'll get real-life takes on looks from Malo, TSE, and BCBG, created in as little as two weeks.
Helena Rubinstein Beauty Gallery
135 Spring Street; 212-343-9963
A facial in this new, loftlike spa is hard to beat. Unless you add a manicure and pedicure at the same time, that is. Such is the "rush-hour trio" ($100): Two aestheticians scrub, mask, and file away while you struggle to remain conscious in a cushy leather armchair. Add loads of free samples, and you'd have to be fanned by palm fronds to up the bliss factor any higher.
Jim's Shoe Repair
50 East 59th Street; 212-355-8259
The tiny, cluttered shop looks a little underwhelming, but once you spy the stack of Robert Clergerie and Prada shoe boxes in the corner, you'll feel more confident about entrusting it with your scuffed alligator Tod's. We brought in some embarrassingly soiled Fendi python slides. After some tongue-clucking and about ten minutes of TLC, they were returned, weatherproofed and gleaming. Cost: $6.50.
139 Thompson Street; 212-475-2333
Pierre mends the tattered hems and sleeves of boldface names like Winona Ryder, Angelina Jolie, Kate Moss, and Naomi Campbell. You'll understand their devotion when your floor-length skirt is neatly cut to the knee in fifteen minutes. Soon, you'll be tempted to challenge the staff with tougher projects, like streamlining your stiff eighties power suit. Prepare to accept defeat gracefully when you see the elegant overhaul a mere 24 hours later.
65 Mercer Street; 212-431-4120
Love may last forever, but brides who elope have considerably less time to find a dress. Turn to Novobatzky, whose SoHo boutique offers simple, perfectly fitted sheaths (from $500) custom-made in a week. The slinky gowns aren't for the shy, but cast in fabrics like duchesse satin and silk organza, they're so gorgeously seductive you won't want to retire yours to the back of your closet after the big day.
317 East 9th Street; 212-982-7048
Groovy custom-made sandals in everything from lime-green suede to slick python ($180-$245): enough said? Well, not quite -- it's also a mere three weeks from the initial tracing and fitting to a final product that'll go with pony skin and Prada Sport. Jutta's Über-cool wedge sandals and strappy flats last nearly forever -- and they'll look stylish for just as long.
New Age Designer
38 Mott Street; 212-349-0818
Inside this bare-bones shop, you'll find more than 300 brilliantly colored, intricately embroidered rolls of silk ready to be turned into traditional cheong sam Chinese couture dresses (from $200). Patterns range from cerise brocade with trailing vines to peach silk dotted with delicate flowers. How long before you're a Suzie Wong look-alike? As little as two days.
89 Franklin Street; 212-334-5522
Come here for smooth-as-glass leather pants that go from grunge to glam in a flash. Made-to-measure pairs (from $750) take under a week, while the superluxe couture versions (from $950), complete with muslin fittings, take just two. Caveat emptor: Materials range from wild (python) to wilder (beaded ostrich), and even as leather pants go, these second-skin cuts aren't for those who like to keep their assets hidden.
Da Pietro Todd Salon, 1509 Second Avenue, at 78th Street; 212-744-7150
Canale's Beverly Hills salon is so busy that he only makes it to Gotham three days a month. But it's worth squeezing in an appointment to experience the cutting-edge color and shine treatments ($100 and up) that he invented. "Staining" transforms gray streaks into soft highlights in ten minutes; the "Sealer" is a three-minute shine enhancer. And with Friends like Jennifer Aniston and Courtney Cox Arquette on Canale's client roster, you may be privy to some grade-A dish, too.