Statement shoes and look-at-me handbags aside, she’s partial to neutral tones, favoring a circle of designers whose work shares an edgy minimalism. Her closet brims with Philip Lim (a client), The Row, and Old Celine. Central to the Joanna Czech look is a pair of glasses, always chunky, always dark frames. Her specs serve dual purposes: to push her blonde bangs out of her eyes and to accentuate her delicate features. (With her heart-shaped face and striking eyebrows, she looks like an older, blonder Cara Delevingne). “I don’t know how many pairs of glasses I have!” she says. “I packed fourteen pair for this trip, if that tells you anything.”
Her more-is-more aesthetic extends to her shoe collection — over 500 pairs and counting — as well as her wardrobe, so big it has its own bedroom and two walk-in closets in the Dallas home that serves as her main residence. “It’s very hard to detach from my pieces,” Czech says with an impish grin. She also has a special “New York closet,” home to the heavy winter coats and knee-high boots that were mainstays of her life before she and her husband decamped to Texas seven years ago.
She is speaking to me from the Sag Harbor home that she and her husband, Alec, have rented for the month of August. There are four extra bedrooms for visitors and a cottage out back that serves as the studio where she sees clients nine hours a day. It’s a clever move, installing herself in the tony town where so many of her loyal clients decamp for the last month of the summer, but you get the feeling that if Czech opened up a temporary shop in the backwoods of Nebraska instead of the Hamptons, her followers would still manage to #getczeched. After all, she is fully booked through 2020.
“I give everything I have – and my love and warmth — to my work,” she says. “I tried to get pregnant in my thirties but that never happened. But I have so many children to take care of. You can’t imagine what I hear on a daily basis, how often my clients and I cry together and laugh together.” Her ministrations do not end at the end of the 90-minute session. She stays in close touch with her clients, checking in to see how their skin reacted to a new treatment and also how they’re doing in other respects. “That’s my family,” she says of her clientele. “I don’t really have other friends.”
New York-based clients have been turning to Czech since she moved to the city 30 years ago. She found her way to the upper echelons of New York society in 1995, when she landed a job at a luxury spa within Reebok Sports Club, the Central Park West gym frequented by countless bold-face names. She started out mostly grooming brows and nails, and gained fans in supermodel Trish Goff and Sting and Trudy Styler. Word of mouth took off, and there were suddenly too many celebrities to name: Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick, Liam Neeson and Natasha Richardson, Kate Winslet and Uma Thurman.Travel to far-flung destinations for magazine shoots became a regular feature of Czech’s job.
She left in 2002 to open her own spa, Seva, in the Washington Heights neighborhood of uptown Manhattan, and four years later switched to a two-day-a-week post at the spa of the Core club and focused on traveling to work with her high-octane clients. In 2012, she moved to Dallas with Alec, her then-new husband, whose private equity work focused on the oil industry. She opened the first Joanna Czech studio in her new hometown in 2015. Traveling remains a central part of her business, and to hear her tell it, her Dallas house is more of a home base than a home. She has been traveling to Los Angeles more and more frequently, and every April, in the weeks leading up to the Met Gala, she sets up a temporary shop at a hotel near the Metropolitan Museum to help celebs get red-carpet ready.
Alec has quit his job as an investor in the oil business to run the business end of Joanna Czech. “Alec takes care of all the pop-ups and all the legal agreements when we do collaborations with skincare companies,” she says. While working together put a strain on Czech’s previous marriage, it’s been different this time around. “Maybe we’re older and wiser.”
Alec is also raising capital for a line of eponymous skincare products, which Czech hopes to bring to market in 2021 (the lab work and approvals required are not inconsiderable). Currently, she and her team customize the products they employ from a wide range of high-end serums and lotions sold at Czech’s studios and online. “No two facials are ever identical,” Czech says. Her single eponymous product is a double-headed face roller engineered to lift rather than flatten the muscles that it works on; I was treated to a round of face-rolling during my facial.
Before returning to their home base,Alec and Joanna will spend two weeks in Manhattan, where Czech will be hosting a launch party at her new SoHo salon and remain on hand to personally administer facials to models and designers and editors for Fashion Week. I have no chance of booking an appointment, but Rachel assured me that the effects of my treatment would last about twenty-seven days, so I have nothing to worry about should I find myself anywhere near a runway.
Indeed, I emerged from my session with a brighter cast to my putty-soft skin and an unrecognizable dearth of shadows around my eyes. I bounded back onto the street without my usual tinted moisturizer. I met up with my husband an hour later, and asked if anything looked different. “Yes,” he said, without missing a beat. “You look younger.”