Sassoon’s Son Starting Boston Hair Empire

Academy To Be Built Near Boston University

POSTED: 11:23 am EDT July 8, 2008
UPDATED: 11:42 am EDT July 8, 2008
BOSTON — The son of famed stylist Vidal Sassoon is opening a salon and massive new hair care academy in Boston as he moves to build his own empire.

The Academy for Hair and Skin by Elan Sassoon is a 90,000-square-foot, $22 million school planned near Boston University.

The school, with its 180 dorm beds and a 200-seat auditorium, is the first of four planned nationwide. It’s supposed to open in the spring

Elan Sassoon also is part-owner of a 3,000-square-foot salon on Boylston Street that will open a few months before the school.

Sassoon told The Boston Globe he chose Boston for the school because it’s a city of education.

Several years ago, Sassoon’s $31 million bid to purchase the Vidal Sassoon brand fell about $2 million short.

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 abelson@globe.com.

Ryan Gander, The Boy Who Always Looked Up, 2003. 200 children’s storybooks on a shelf, 14 1/8 x 78 3/4 x 6 3/4 in. (35.9 x 200 x 17.1 cm)

The British artist Ryan Gander weaves subtle tapestries of fact and fiction. His idea-based practice, his handling of the details of life and his own biography, art history and the artistic process, even obscure fables and puzzles—all of these he synthesizes into myriad forms, from sculpture to installation, the printed word, performance, and intervention.

He has created, for instance, an installation in which viewers are positioned on the wrong side of a cinema screen, and a book on high-rise living that is positioned above the audience’s heads. In What the Postman Brought (2007), disparate items are loosely collected, and viewers are invited to complete the space between the (missing) objects.

Gander’s cerebral but playful puzzle incorporates various visual clues: the painting of the American artist Mark Tansey (whose work is similarly allusive, often exploring abstract concepts through somewhat realistic images), a children’s adventure-mystery book whose story develops as puzzles are solved, and the Irish comedian Spike Milligan’s ironic and emotionally raw writings.

An Incomplete History of Ryan Gander
by Jens Hoffmann

The London-based artist Ryan Gander connects what appear upon first glance to be prosaic historical facts and events with a large collection of fictional and semifictional elements. His works include photographs, drawings, films, installations, sculptures, and even lectures, all of them intertwined by a fractured, opaque narrative that threads through his entire oeuvre. The finished pieces are surprisingly minimal, but they suggest a variety of points of reference, from the utopian impulses of the early twentieth century to contemporary popular culture and mundane aspects of everyday life.

The Boy Who Always Looked Up (2003) exemplifies Gander’s approach perfectly. The primary component of the piece is a children’s book that the artist wrote himself about a boy in a small house across from the infamous Trellick Tower, which was designed by the British modernist architect Ernö Goldfinger in London’s Notting Hill. The story of the building and its creation is told through the eyes of the child, and a large number of exquisite illustrations show him watching its construction. A minimalist bookshelf holding numerous copies of The Boy Who Always Looked Up is installed high on the museum or gallery wall, out of the audience’s reach. Only in the bookshop can viewers actually handle and acquire the book so that they can finally read the story after leaving the exhibition space. The fact that Goldfinger was the neighbor of Ian Fleming (author of the renowned James Bond spy novel series) in London’s Highgate neighborhood and the inspiration for the Bond character Goldfinger is something that the artist carefully notes in a separate piece as part of his ongoing lecture series Loose Associations 2.1 (begun 2002). Both works are part of a larger group that Gander calls An Incomplete History of Ideas (2002–6).

Another work from this same group, also dealing with both the legacy of modernism and the world of children, is Bauhaus Revisited (2003), a chess set designed in 1924 by Josef Hartwig, a master craftsman at the Bauhaus in Weimar, Germany. The chess set’s unique concept is that the shapes of the pieces indicate what moves can be made with them. It was originally intended to be mass produced but never went into production; Gander fabricates it as a unique piece of art using zebrawood, a rare, endangered wood found only in the rainforests of central Africa. The material’s black-and-white patterning makes it impossible to tell which side the pieces are supposed to be on, so the game cannot be played and the chess figures become, essentially, old-fashioned-looking children’s building blocks.

One of Gander’s most complex and yet most characteristic pieces is What the Postman Brought (2007), a subversion of museum display standards. It consists of four elements, three of which are missing. The fourth functions as a wall label, giving the viewer some clues about what might be going on in the absent parts. There are two nails in the wall, but the painting that is supposed to be hanging there (The Bricoleur’s Daughter [1987] by Mark Tansey) is gone. There is a bookstand, but the book (The Adventures of the Black Hand Gang [1976] by Hans Jürgen Press) has also disappeared. And the empty frame, we learn, was supposed to hold two documents from the unpublished writings of the Irish comedian Spike Milligan.

The film that Gander is presenting in his solo Passengers exhibition, Is This Guilt in You Too (Study of a Car in a Field) (2005), again employs a child as the narrator. In an enclosed space with white walls and white carpet, we watch a one-minute video loop of a car stuck in a snowy landscape near a group of trees. The camera slowly zooms in from above toward the car, and a voice-over by a young girl continues for about 15 minutes while the projection loops again and again. The girl speculates, just as we do, on how the car got there, describing carefully what we see on the screen.

Gander’s works are uncommonly hard to decipher. He sends us on a journey that is less about trying to arrive at an intellectual understanding and more about engaging in a form of detective work, which is often linked to the history of larger social structures and their relationships to the human condition. He lays out the evidence and asks us to study it carefully, connecting the different elements and forming our own personal relationship with them.

Hub of high fashion

Sassoon’s son fancies hairstylist ‘university’ here

By Scott Van Voorhis

Friday, March 21, 2008 –
Boston Herald Business Reporter
Reporter Scott Van Voorhis brings 15 years of aggressive reporting to a wide range of topics that affect the Hub’s business community and residents.

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.