Spa Grande Dame Aida Thibiant Retires

Thibiant Beverly Hills has been an institution for 33 years. Now 80, Aida Thibiant is retiring and selling her business to plastic surgeon Harry Glassman and his business partner, Herminio Llevat. Though Thibiant will stay on for a year as a consultant, the new owners will be converting the business into a medical spa by September, delegating a suite of treatment rooms for Botox, Restylane and lasers.

'I wasn't going toward the medi-spa, but that's the future,' said Thibiant, who speaks with a lilting Armenian accent and is usually clad in a neat tweed Chanel or Escada. 'I have to follow the flow.'

Glassman, who will be at the spa two days a week, said the facility and its staff will otherwise remain unchanged.

Thibiant, who was raised in France and studied to be an aesthetician in Paris in the 1950s, immigrated to L.A. with her late husband Michel Thibiant and her two teenage sons in 1970. Back then, few Americans knew what an aesthetician was.

She launched her first spa in Beverly Hills in 1972. In the 1980s, she developed the still-popular skin-care line Principal Secret with Victoria Principal. Her TV spots helped solidify the current mode of celebrity-paired-with-expert format in beauty infomercials.

Even though Thibiant is retiring, her products are not. Llevat will work with Thibiant in the coming year to create a new skin care line, the first to be distributed outside the spa. The beauty maven has lots of practice, having launched her first products in 1978 via Thibiant International Inc., a beauty manufacturing factory in Chatsworth that Michel Thibiant spearheaded in the '70s. It now manufactures Guinot Paris skin care products in the U.S. and others for big-name beauty conglomerates.

'I always dreamed of having my skin-care line everywhere,' she said. 'I didn't have time to do it before. You actually can do everything, but you can't do everything perfectly. And now it's going to happen after I retire.' Thibiant smiles and shakes her head. 'It's unbelievable.'