By  on September 7, 2007

When Frédéric Fekkai set up shop 10 years ago on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, the biggest celebrities ever to visit Melrose Place were Courtney Thorne-Smith and Heather Locklear — and that was just on television.

The actual street was decidedly unglamorous: a smattering of interior decorating stores and confused tourists were its main highlights. Since then, however, Thorne-Smith has gone on to sitcoms, Locklear has gone through another rocker and Melrose Place has been transformed by a bevy of headlining designers, including Carolina Herrera and Oscar de la Renta, into a powerful retail hub known for more than its "Beverly Hills, 90210" spin-off namesake.

Fekkai is the latest addition to the vaunted Melrose Place roster, opening his first Los Angeles satellite salon this week on the two-block jag that connects Melrose Avenue to La Cienega Boulevard. The new 1,400-square-foot, second-story location could further cement Fekkai's relationship with Hollywood and be a blueprint for future satellite outposts — up to four — arriving in the region.

"Melrose Place was definitely the target. I think it is the premier street in Los Angeles. It is quaint and charming," said Fekkai. "Ten years ago, Rodeo was the only luxury destination in L.A. Now, luxury is pervasive in the market, and we must continue to be in the places where our client is as well."

In contrast to Rodeo, understated elegance defines Melrose Place. Situated above the Lambertson Truex store, the Frédéric Fekkai space has an upscale salon-meets-sophisticated office feel. Black-stained hardwood covers the floors while silver and white lamps illuminate the surroundings and white oak tables at the styling stations.

On one side of the intimate salon is a wrought-iron rimmed patio for manicures and pedicures when the weather is warm, and on the other side is a shampooing area with three black recliners. Designed by S. Russell Groves, the Melrose Place satellite has 10 styling stations, although Fekkai noted that upcoming ancillary salons could have as many as 20 stations in 3,000-square-feet footprints.

Branding is kept to a minimum at the Melrose Place salon, with the exception of select Fekkai elements such as his cursive signature inlaid in silver at the foot of the reception desk. "We want to make sure it is recognizable as Fekkai, but we also want to have the personality of the [geographic] location," said Fekkai of the look of the satellites.

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