Mirror, mirror at the salon — how do you think I’d look as a blonde?
By May, the answer won’t be just in a fairy tale. That’s when The Salon Project by Joel Warren at Saks Fifth Avenue in Huntington Station’s Walt Whitman Shops launches “augmented reality” technology allowing clients to virtually try on hairstyles, colors, extensions and even makeup via iPads resembling mirrors . . . before they commit.
The newly opened salon, the first of a dozen or so planned for Saks stores throughout the country, is a partnership between the store and veteran celebrity colorist Joel Warren, he of the storied Warren-Tricomi. It brings high-tech to an industry that has been traditionally high-touch.
Warren, 57, who has mane-tamed the locks of Scarlett Johansson, Tyra Banks and Jessica Alba, thinks all clients deserve the star treatment. After leaving his last gig, he says, he thought a lot about how to change up the standard-issue salon. “The beauty business is on fire, the salon business is not doing great.” He describes the new project as a hybrid — a hair salon-meets-med spa — “combining stores like Apple and Sephora” with the services of a traditional high-end salon and spa.
A MODERN VIBE
Tucked behind a marigold curtain off a designer department on the second floor, the space is equal parts state-of-the-art and midcentury modern. Graphic, custom wallpaper in teal and gold accent the walls and ceilings, while ’50s-style brass lighting fixtures and hardware add warmth to the modern space. Each of 20 stations feature hidden sinks and chairs that recline and where clients can settle in for most of their visit.
“Wow, it’s really comfortable,” one supine client exclaims on a busy Thursday.
For Warren, it is about breaking away from the current salon norm of clients being shuttled from one space to another for each service. “It’s supposed to be enjoyable, and it’s started to be a chore, and confusing,” he says. “I color your hair, then I give you to someone else who cuts your hair and then to someone else who dries it. I’m not saying one person has to do all this, but it can happen in one chair, making the client comfortable and relaxed.”
A RANGE OF SERVICES
Hair is a focus (styling and haircuts cost $100 for women, $60 for men), but other beauty opportunities abound here, too. There are spa rooms — in one, a dermatologist can treat wrinkles and plump up faces with Botox and other injectables. A couple of rooms offer CoolSculpting, the nonsurgical fat-reduction treatment that uses handheld devices on various parts of the body to freeze and destroy fat below the skin’s surface. “It really works,” says Warren, clutching his trim, love-handle-less waist.
A back room is reserved for spray tanning. Along the side, makeup artists work their magic (an application starts at $70) with brands such as Kevyn Aucoin, Lilah B., Smashbox and Temptu. And besides mainstream top-of-line hair products, Warren plans to sell an interesting variety of indie brands on a rotating basis.
While the salon is luxurious, it doesn’t feel snooty. A long, communal manicure table (gels are $65) runs down the center of the place, for example, and the side-by-sideness of it all may encourage client conversations. Not in the mood to talk? There are plugs and phone-charging stations built into the table.
Warren has paid close attention to details here along with the big picture. Coat-check tickets are affixed to oversized kilt pins so customers don’t lose them, and the hair-cutting capes feature a clear plastic window at the center so wearers can see their phones or iPads beneath, enabling texting and reading, without exposing devices or body parts to water, falling hair or dye. Nice.
Finally, what would a salon of the future be without a designated selfie space? Natch, there’s a spot just before the exit. It’s in a little nook decked out in black and white graffiti. Because after the new ’do, the makeup, the fat melting etc. . . . well, you got to show off to someone. And why not to everyone?