In 1996, La Mer swivelled even the most perfectly coiffed heads when Estée Lauder relaunched the famous Crème for a then-astonishing cost of $120 for one ounce. Some balked at the price, but that didn’t stop La Mer from becoming a global hit with celebrity fans such as Sharon Stone and Kim Cattrall, who buy it by the Louis Vuitton trunkful.

Well, hang on to your Philip Treacy hats, ladies, because La Mer has broken the price barrier again. They have spent the last four years on a top secret project to create a new skin care regimen that they promise will bring your skin to its “personal best.” Dubbed “Project Precious” and now called The Essence, it is a three-week intensive treatment that contains the highest level of La Mer’s Miracle Broth-the brand’s famous It factor. The Essence costs $2,600, and you can’t simply walk up to the counter and buy it.

Due to the intensive manufacturing process, only small batches are made, so initially it is available by invitation only to top La Mer clients at Holt Renfrew and other select boutiques worldwide. “We wanted to create a product of true luxury,” says Lynne Greene, the statuesque president of Specialty Group Worldwide, in La Mer’s pristine white meeting room in midtown Manhattan. “We asked ourselves ‘What does luxury mean?’ and we knew it had to come down to performance, whether it’s a Ferrari or a skin care product.” Whereas the magic bullet in Crème de la Mer is the specially fermented sea kelp, called Miracle Broth, The Essence contains two additional ferments-one called Dormancy and the other called Mariponic. “Our bodies can truly heal only when we are totally relaxed,” says Loretta Miraglia, senior vice-president of Product Development for Specialty Brands. “For the Dormancy ferment, we sourced a derivative of the narcissus bulb and added rosemary, vitamin C and soy fermented under the influence of long sound waves,” she adds. For the Mariponic ferment, a method of growing marine plants in purified sea water and customized nutrients, La Mer used sea parsley from Nova Scotia to create a “super-plant.” Together with the anti-inflammatory benefits of the Miracle Broth, and the magnetized green tourmaline water, the new ferments give both protective effects (Dormancy) and nutritional benefits (Mariponic). The Essence claims to be a “healing spa” for the skin that will produce astonishing results both during and after its use. Of course, at this price, you might need to check with your accountant first before you go on this particular trip.