But no more depressing, say faithful fans, than missing an appointment with Soare. At her salon, called Anastasia, her eyebrow-shaping specialty is in such demand that she often works 14-hour days, six days a week. "Anastasia is the Picasso of eyebrows," says Selena star Jennifer Lopez. "She is an artist who works in wax." Garcelle Beauvais, a star of the WB Network's The Jamie Foxx Show, agrees. "Two years ago I asked a girlfriend, who's a model, who did her brows," she recalls. "She said, 'Anastasia, the eyebrow guru.' No one else has touched my brows since."
Sometimes, as in the case of Elle Macpherson, brows have to grow back before they can be waxed. "Elle has the most gorgeous brown eyes, but her brows were too thin," says Soare. "She doesn't allow any makeup artists to touch them now." In fact, says Soare, perfect-looking eyebrows are attainable by any woman. All it takes is some waxing and tweezing around the brow bone, and a few strokes of eye shadow to fill in. "When I meet a woman, I know how her brow will look. I have to listen to her first," says Soare, who charges $25 for a first visit and $20 for follow-ups every five to six weeks, "but the shape is up to me." She even has a system for creating the perfect brow: The high point of the arch should be directly above the iris. As for where the brow should end, she says, plot a line beginning at the outside of the nostril, passing the outer eyelashes and ending at the brow bone.
Soare got into wax work as a 16-year-old growing up in the Black Sea port of Constanta, Rumania. "I wanted to be clean," she says. "I was obsessed with my hairy arms. I wore only long sleeves." She picked up business tips from her parents, Dumitru Balamaci (he died when Anastasia was 12) and Victoria Babu, owners of a tailor shop where customer service was a top priority. "When I have a difficult client now," Soare says, "I remember how the women all loved my mother. She was so patient with them."
In her free time as a child, Anastasia tinkered in her uncle's sculpture studio. "I did not play with dolls," she says. "I played with a little hammer, paint and wood." After studying architecture at Rumania's College of Construction and Architecture, she attended beauty school for three years, then got a job as a beautician. In 1978 she married Victor Soare, a ship's captain she met through friends. In 1987, with Anastasia's help, he defected to the U.S. Two years later, Anastasia and their then-10-year-old daughter, Claudia, were allowed to join him. Settling in Los Angeles, Soare soon landed a waxing job at a Beverly Hills salon. Her husband didn't fare as well. Unable to find work, he floundered, and the couple divorced in 1994. "He was waiting for things to happen," says Anastasia. "I wanted to make things happen."
These days, Claudia, now 19, works as the receptionist at her mother's salon (in January she'll begin business classes at UCLA). The shop—where Soare also caters to a male clientele, including such celebs as Keenen Ivory Wayans and Gabriel Byrne—was designed with the help of Soare's boyfriend Andre Popa, 33, whom she met last year at the Rumanian restaurant he used to own. Now business partners, they live together in a two-bedroom townhouse in Beverly Hills. Soare has a line of beauty products in the works and a growing clientele, though she has given up making house calls. When she visited Jodie Foster last January for an on-set leg waxing, she says, "I was thinking, 'This is taking three hours out of my day' " She hasn't seen Foster since.
And there is one set of brows she refuses to touch—her own. After some overzealous plucking as a teen, her own brows never grew back. Four years ago she had a pair tattooed on. "That is my secret," she says. "I've never told anyone."
ANNE-MARIE OTEY in Beverly Hills