Hub of high fashion
Sassoon’s son fancies hairstylist ‘university’ here
Friday, March 21, 2008 –
Move over Harvard and MIT. There’s a new competitor on college row:The Academy for Hair and Skin by Elan Sassoon. Elan, son of celebrity hair stylist/shampoo guru Vidal Sassoon, has relocated from Miami and has chosen Brighton to launch what’s being billed as the first ever U.S. cosmetology school with a university feel – right down to its own 178-room dorm. Sassoon last year bought a modest Commonwealth Avenue building and is now seeking City Hall permission to transform it into a 90,000-square-foot university for the next generation of high-powered hair stylists.A longtime entrepreneur, the 38-year-old is developing the school without his famous father’s help.While Boston might seem like an unlikely place to launch such a stylish endeavor, Sassoon sees his $16 million venture as part of a wave of hot new businesses bringing high fashion to the Hub.“Zara’s, the Mandarin Oriental, Louis Vuitton – now is the time to be in Boston,” Sassoon said, mentioning two deluxe retailers and a hotelier that have recently moved to town. “All these hot companies are coming and opening up. There is a nice shift in that direction to high fashion.”Sassoon is even putting down roots here, having moved to town last spring and having bought a house in Chestnut Hill, where he lives with his wife and two school-aged children.The school’s 10-month program aims to turn out elite hairstylists – with a very college-like cost of $18,000 to $20,000 per student.But that’s a career investment that can pay big dividends to those with the right training and drive.Top Newbury Street hairstylists can pull down $150,000 a year. In New York, the profession’s elite can make $200,000 a year.While most of the school’s expected 300 students will come from Greater Boston, Sassoon thinks the academy will attract global interest.He also wants the school to be about much more than just learning styling hair.Students will also take courses delving into the field’s history and noted practitioners, as well as classes on “color theory” and the history of design.Instructors will be paid $70,000 in a bid to bring in the best the field has to offer.There will also be a 200-seat amphitheater where everyone from famous plastic surgeons to noted hair stylists can come share their professional wisdom.“We would like the school to be a center of fashion and design,” Sassoon said.