BOSTON — Elan Sassoon may be restricted from using his famous last name on his hair care bottles (it’s owned by Procter & Gamble Co.), but he’s nevertheless using time-honored insights learned from his father, Vidal, and other salon greats for his debut professional hair care product launch, bowing in January.
The Elan S. range is built on three ideas: preserve hair health by maintaining the cuticle’s naturally acidic pH; build strength with cashmere wool keratin, and provide a “clean” product that’s as effective as traditional salon formulas. Elan S. is free of parabens, sulfates, denatured alcohol, formaldehyde and salts, ingredients some consumers perceive as undesirable.
“We wanted a product that returned to some of the good practices that we’ve lost in recent years,” said Sassoon, who envisions marketing the line through salon workshops of cutting-edge styles, à la his dad. “My father never sold a product — he sold his work, and the product sold itself.”
Company chief executive officer Larry Williams, an industry veteran who built distribution for Jhirmack, Nexxus and John Sahag, projects Elan S. will generate $2 million to $5 million in sales in 2010, building to $22 million by the end of 2012 through salon distribution and company e-tail. Prices range from $14 for gel to $28 for conditioner; 14 stockkeeping units bow for January (color seal shampoo/conditioner; moisture shampoo/conditioner; thermal straightener; antifrizz serum; styling crème and gel, among others), followed by additional items to be added in April, August and November.
Long planned, the Elan S. launch is the latest step in Sassoon’s drive to build a hair empire. Since 2008, he’s opened upscale Mizu salons on New York’s Park Avenue and in Boston’s Mandarin Oriental hotel and partnered in a roll out of suburban salon/spa chain Green Tangerine in metro Boston. But the economy has crimped some of his ambitions. He hopes to open the Elan Sassoon Academy for Hair and Skin in 2010 in space leased from Boston University, rather than in a new building as originally planned.
Although Elan S. is formulated to be eco-friendly, the chic-minimal packaging is sophisticated, not earthy. Slender bottles in matte, brushed plastic come in shades of avocado, ivory, rose and steel blue labeled with lowercase sans-serif font. Unlike the many pearlized shampoos that are now popular, formulas squeeze out clear and are lightly scented. Los Angeles celebrity stylist Melissa Stone, who serves as the brand’s creative director, said her clientele is eager for a stylist-endorsed, high-performance product without heavy chemical load.
Sassoon believes pH, while not immediately sexy to a consumer, will be a critical product differentiator over the long haul. Professional shampoos can be significantly alkaline, according to Sassoon’s chemist Rob Guimond, who tested nearly two dozen competitors and found pH levels running as high as 10. Alkalinity opens the hair cuticle, drying it and causing color treatments to leach away, ruining a stylist’s labor. In the Eighties, Sassoon noted, salon product listed their pH (Redken founder Jheri Redding famously visited salons with litmus strips to endorse his shampoos) but over time, the generic claim “pH balanced,” replaced specific data. “Balanced,” Sassoon contends, implies a pH of 7, or at the midpoint of the 0 to 14 point acid-base scale, but that’s still too alkaline for hair. Each Elan S. product list a pH between 4.5 and 5.5, the slightly acidic natural state of untreated hair and the ideal condition for keeping the cuticle intact.
“This will be the only pH balanced gel in the marketplace,” he noted of the line’s styling aid. “Most have denatured alcohol that breaks down your hair until it breaks off.”
EXCLUSIVE: @tomford is opening its first-ever beauty store. The boutique, which opens November 20 in London’s Covent Gardens, was designed with the over-the-top glam Ford is known for. Read the full story on WWD.com, link in bio. #wwdbeauty #wwdnews (📷: Simon Wagner) #TomFordBeauty
New York-based DJ @harleyvnewton threw a party to celebrate the holiday collection of her dress and pajama line @hvn at the Ladurée Beverly Hills. It Girls @katebosworth, @rashidajones and more joined in on the fun, which included cocktails, croque monsieur sandwiches and a photo booth. #wwdfashion (📷: Owen Kolasinski/BFA.com)
For the holidays, @Burberry partnered with 20-year-old artist @blondeymccoy on a series of three outdoor murals in downtown Manhattan. The murals are McCoy’s interpretation of a Christmas eve party, the idea of charity and the spirit of family. His third mural, pictured here, is the most personal. The image depicts McCoy’s grandparents and father in London’s Trafalgar Square in the Seventies. “My work often features lots of sentimental objects.” #wwdeye
For spring 2018, designers applied bold colors and cartoonish motifs on everything from sneakers and belts to key chains. See all the top men’s accessories trends on WWD.com. #wwdtrends (📷: George Chinsee; Prop Styling by @rnasti; Market Editor: @luiscampuzano)
The @dior-sponsored @guggenheim international gala pre-party has a history of drawing cool-girl musical acts to serenade the crowd –– and last night was no exception. @haimtheband performed songs both new and old, and lured a star-studded audience with the likes of Rebecca Hall, Kate Mara, Mamoudou Athie and more. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)
In a partnership between the @metopera and the @englishnationalopera, “Marnie” was born. The opera, with costumes sponsored by @mrporterlive, is an adaptation of the 1961 thriller by Winston Graham. Arianne Phillips, who created the costumes, is no rookie: She’s styled Madonna for her tours and created costumes for a myriad of films in the past. Read WWD’s interview with Phillips, where she talks about her inspiration for the opera’s costumes on WWD.com #wwdfashion
@barneysnyc took a different approach to their holiday windows this year. Instead of Christmas decor, Barneys tapped @thehaasbrothers to tell a story of positivity, gratitude and inclusivity via heartwarming silliness and humor. “It’s about kids and it’s about coming together and being family and loving each other,” said Simon Haas. #wwdfashion (📷: @joshuascottphoto)
Beauty influencer @kandeejohnson makes her foray into hair care with a collaboration with @ogx_beauty — making it the first time that OGX has teamed up for a product creation. The collab includes shampoos and conditioners in three scents. At 39 and a mom, Johnson is a different profile than the emerging social media stars, but is considered one of the pioneers of the digital beauty influencer world. Read WWD’s interview with her on wwd.com, including the strangest beauty product she’s ever tried #wwdbeauty