The Academy for Hair and Skin by Elan Sassoon, a $22 million school near the Boston University campus, is expected to open next spring in a 90,000-square-foot facility with dormitories, the first of its kind in the country. It will offer training from international stylists in everything from hair history to hair etiquette.
The beauty school will debut just months after Sassoon open a 3,000-square-foot high-end salon, Mizu, next to L’Espalier restaurant at the new luxury Mandarin Oriental hotel and condominium complex on Boylston Street. At Mizu – Japanese for “water” – haircuts and coloring will start at $125.
Over the next year, the partners also plan to launch two new spa and salon businesses, Green Tangerine at Patriot Place in Foxborough and Legacy Place in Dedham, and they hope to launch a product line under Sassoon’s name.
Hair pioneer Vidal Sassoon opened his first US salon in 1965 in Manhattan and was the first to cut hair in geometric shapes. He quickly became a powerful force in the industry and helped turn the craft into an enormous and lucrative business.
Three decades later, the younger Sassoon, at 38, is looking to capitalize on the latest boom in beauty, which is fueled in part by a growing number of hotels and health clubs offering more hair and skin services, and an increase in skin care treatments. Sassoon said he is trying to fill what he considers a major gap in beauty education across the industry. Other local cosmetology schools, including Elizabeth Grady, which graduates 200 students annually, say classes for massage, makeup, and skin care are at full capacity, and waiting lists grow each year. Over the past five years, the number of licensed cosmetologists and aestheticians in Massachusetts has increased 8 percent to about 2,750, according to the state division of professional licensure.
Sassoon’s beauty school, the first of four planned around the country over the next several years, will feature 180 dorm beds, a 200-seat auditorium, and wind turbines and solar panels. Construction at the 1047 Commonwealth Ave. site is expected to start in August. The academy will offer licenses in skin care, hair, and nails, and mandate students take 1,500 hours of cosmetology training over nine months to graduate, instead of the 1,000 hours required for a state license. The tuition of about $19,500 makes it one of the most expensive such programs in the United States.
“I wanted to do this in Boston because this is the city of education. Why not have the best hair school here, too?” said Sassoon, who previously developed and ran medical spas for Klinger Advanced Aesthetics in Miami. “This kind of education has never been done in cosmetology.”
Sassoon is negotiating with Patrick McGinley, who has worked as creative director at Boston’s Vidal Sassoon salon on Newbury Street, to run the academy. Other directors will likely include Dennis Tarr, who helped start the Blaine Beauty School chain locally 30 years ago.
For Sassoon, the Boston beauty empire is a response to his failure several years ago to purchase the Vidal Sassoon brand, getting outbid by Regis Corp. for the company’s 25 salons nationwide and four beauty academies. The product line was sold to Richardson-Vicks, which was acquired by Procter & Gamble Co. about two decades ago. In 2003, Vidal Sassoon filed a lawsuit against the consumer products giant for abandoning his brand and costing him millions of dollars in royalties. The two sides settled the case in a private deal a year later, releasing a statement that said, “Mr. Sassoon and Procter & Gamble appreciate the mutual association and look forward to the continued success of Vidal Sassoon products.”
Vidal Sassoon now lives in Los Angeles and raises money to help build homes in New Orleans.
Elan Sassoon said his $31 million offer for the salons and academies was about $2 million lower than Regis’s deal. Longtime associates of Vidal Sassoon at Haircare Ltd., which bought the salons and academies from him in the 1980s, showed no favoritism when Elan Sassoon wanted to buy back his father’s company.
“There was no love. That hurt,” he said. “So I thought, why not open the finest school in the world?”
Jenn Abelson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.