IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER

Vidal Sassoon’s groundbreaking hairstyles made him a legend. Then he sold out. Now his son, Elan, hopes to build on his vision.

By Christopher Muther, Globe Staff

Elan Sassoon was, for years, quite certain he had no interest in the family business. The hair salons, sleek beauty schools, and product lines that made his father, Vidal Sassoon, the best-known hairstylist in the world held little allure. Instead, the younger Sassoon graduated from college in 1993, raised $10 million, and started producing films.

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In a few years, his company, Skyline Entertainment, was making critically lauded indie movies with stars such as Blythe Danner, Peter Gallagher, and Lara Flynn Boyle. He was walking the red carpet at Cannes, hanging out with Gwyneth Paltrow and Ethan Hawke.

“I was Mr. On-the-Rise Film Guy,” Sassoon, now 38, recalls.But the demands of film schedules and festivals, while making him someone to watch in the movie industry, was putting stress on his marriage. He had to make a choice: film or family. He chose family. The decision drew Sassoon back to the family business, and in no small way. Next year, on Commonwealth Avenue near Boston University, he’ll open the Institute of Hairdesign by Elan Sassoon, slated to be the largest cosmetology school in the world, the first of four across the country. This month, he launches two high-end salons called Mizu, one here with his four business partners  at the posh Mandarin Oriental hotel, another in New York on Park Avenue. He’s partnered on a line of spas called Green Tangerine, and rolls out his own product line next year.

Choosing Boston

The decision to locate the academy in Boston was based, in part, on the city’s strong emphasis on education and its large student population. Boston appears to be a good fit for Sassoon, who confesses that he’s far more traditional and strict than his parents when it comes to marriage and family. Elan Sassoon was born in New York, grew up in LA, and spent a year at Berkshire Academy. But Boston became central to Elan’s world for another reason. In January 2007, his wife of 14 years, Adriana Sassoon, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. A former ELITE model in her native Brazil, Adriana Sassoon endured a frustrating series of biopsies in Miami, where the family was living. In search of the best care, Adriana Sassoon quickly moved to Boston for treatment. Elan and their two children followed that May. The family lives in Chestnut Hill. Adriana Sassoon recently celebrated her first cancer-free year.

Adriana Sassoon has a Handbag Company with the focus in Minimalist Design. The main ingredient is to help a Ameamoroso Charity founded by her father and mentor as well as charities that work with children of developing countries”…“If I can make a difference by doing what I love and being able to help others in need, what a marvelous accomplishment!

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Photos Elan Sassoon &   Adriana Sassoon .

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Sassoon’s Hair Apparent

His dad is possibly the world’s most famous hairstylist. Now Elan Sassoon, 38, says he’s building what will be “The Harvard of hair schools.”

October 2008

 

 

His father is possibly the world’s most famous hairstylist, and he’s already run a chain of high-end medi-spas, so it was only a matter of time before Elan Sassoon—son of Vidal—started building his own beauty empire. Sassoon, 38, will open the Mizu Boston salon at the new Mandarin Oriental hotel in September, followed by Mizu New York on Park Avenue in October.

The salons, which have all-white interiors set off by gold Asian-style screens, aim to entertain as well as beautify customers by providing them with iPods (to tune out the blow-dryers) and high-tech goggles that screen movies.

Sassoon also has another major Beantown project in the works. Though he’s not a stylist—preferring to concentrate on the business end of operations—he’ll open what he describes as “the Harvard of hair schools” next year. The $22 million academy will be the first in the U.S. to offer dormitories and will also boast a 200-seat auditorium. “Most hair schools use textbooks that talk about tools that the cavemen and the ancient Egyptians used to barber,” he said. “There’s nothing in them about the last 150 years, about Michael Gordon, Trevor Sorbie or my father.”

And what advice does the legendary coiffeur give his son? “Technically he’s not allowed to,” Sassoon said with a laugh, referring to the noncompete agreement that the elder Sassoon has with Procter & Gamble, which owns the rights to his name. He does, however, offer “good one-liners from Winston Churchill,” said Elan, citing “Success consists of going from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm” as one of them.