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.

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.