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SANTA MONICA, Calif. — Celebrities Mena Suvari, Rachael Leigh Cook and Lance Bass may have engaged the media last week at the red-carpet reopening of the newly improved Fred Segal Beauty complex here, but it’s the approach to the salon, spa and retail services that is piquing interest among beauty industry observers.

This story first appeared in the August 8, 2003 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

From the launch of L’Oréal Professionnel’s first full-fledged Color Bar in the U.S. to medical doctor-initiated treatments in a day spa context, the new 7,000-square-foot center — up from the 4,500 square feet it occupied for nearly 11 years — signals another evolution for the big-thinking little company that also boasts artist representation and an educational division.

“We didn’t need to build a Taj Mahal,” said Fred Segal Beauty’s chief executive officer, Michael Baruch, who founded the company with creative director Paul DeArmas in 1992. Retail pioneer Fred Segal serves as partner and mentor to the pair. “We’re not a destination spa, and not your true day spa with whirlpools and aromatherapy tubs. We’re not about rose petal manicures and caviar facials. We’re the spa for everyday life. If I have good service professionals and top-of-the-line product, the clients are going to keep coming back and pay what we ask them to pay.”

That means Color Bar options starting at $100, medi-spa remedies on vascular lesions at $300, private nutrition or wardrobe consultation at $150 and men’s straight razor shaves with a facial at $50.

L’Oréal Professionnel and L’Oréal’s luxury salon line, Kérastase, collaborated in the improvements, as reported, with features designed to integrate consumers in the salon treatment process, while boosting the bottom line as much as 20 percent in first-year sales.

The Kérastase Institute, the first of its kind, comprises a glass-enclosed Treatment Cabine in the new salon and is outfitted with Philippe Starck for Maletti consultation chairs and Lavaggio Modern integrated chair and sink units. With its advanced, premium signature rituals and new retail area, this installment of the Institute is expected to register first-year sales of $500,000.

L’Oréal Professionnel’s first full-fledged Color Bar in the U.S., and second globally, integrates consumers in the process through “tools of engagement,” such as color pens encasing sample hair that provides a closer example than traditional swatch books.

If it all sounds very forward, the renovated and newly built interiors look it, too. The futuristic white is tempered with bone, cream and bursts of warm tones. Lit tabletops and orange-colored clear vinyl curtains are countered with warm, deep walnut or blond wood floors, chocolate Edelman cowhide covering the dryer benches and an oversize, rectangular four-way sofa in the salon waiting area. The enclosed Barber Shop room boasts red-washed walls, an antique chair and framed pinup art.

The newly improved spa completely occupies the former 2,500-square-foot salon-spa space. Although it will share a common waiting area with the salon, the spa and its lounge will take the “vibe down a notch,” said Baruch, with the warmer hues and soundproofed walls. Amenities include custom-designed Steve Madden spa slippers named the “Segal” for women and Fila slides for men.

The expanded 1,000-square-foot retail space offers makeup artist services, along with niche brands such as Farmaesthetics, Smashbox Cosmetics, Ayur-Medic and Mario Badescu.

The workshop space also was expanded for larger classes.

DeArmas designed the spaces with Todd Erlandson of (M)Arch. and Craig Rizzo, keeping in mind designer Didier Gomez’s aesthetic interpretation for the Institute section of the salon.

“Michael and Paul’s approach to business is quite forward thinking,” said Anika Betz, marketing director of the London-based boutique beauty brand Pout. Betz was here for the opening to introduce the two-year-old line’s exclusive West Coast sale at Fred Segal Beauty. “We wanted an environment which nurtures its customers with that combination of frivolity and seriousness.”

“We know we’re not about packing a bag for the weekend,” said Baruch, who has upped his staff by 40 percent. “We just want to be a place for everyday life.”