LONDON — Up four floors of a nondescript staircase in an Art Deco industrial building is the Fourth Floor hair salon which, in truth, is less of a salon and more of a “space.”
This story first appeared in the August 8, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
In a move against the fluffy or sleek ground floor salons of Mayfair, Richard Stepney went out on a limb when he opened Fourth Floor 13 years ago in a then not-so-fashionable Clerkenwell —which might explain the furniture.
The eclectic mix — that he mostly “collects” from his clients — has paid off.
“When we opened I was hesitant in giving the site an entire interior overhaul,” said Stepney, who began his career in hairdressing at Vidal Sassoon. “So I ended up gradually collecting pieces from here and there.”
The salon, where a cut and blow-dry costs around $108 with Stepney and $77 with a junior stylist, is spread out over two floors. The upstairs, which has an impressive view overlooking London’s rooftops, has a Mexican-cum-Aborigine mood. There are cacti, cream linen blinds, ethnic sculptures and a red-painted floor.
The extension downstairs, which Stepney acquired around six years ago, used to be an architect’s office and has whitewashed walls, ceiling and floor but is by no means stark in comparison. Like upstairs, there are several heavy Belmont barber chairs dotted around, but downstairs there are oversize oak ones and black leather and steel office chairs, too.
If upstairs has more of a best-friend’s-apartment feel, downstairs feels more like an artist’s studio. Mirrors are by Stepney’s friend Tom Dixon; lights are by Michael Young. And, suspended in the middle of the room is a shadow painting by Brad Lochore. “We came to a good deal on acquiring that one,” Stepney said.
The other reason why the salon draws a hip crowd of journalists, actors and artists is Stepney’s products. Made by the Italian chemist Corpolibero, the line launched just last week at Fourth Floor and, beginning next week, will be available at all Harvey Nichols stores.
The line is called 4th_Floor but, unlike the salon, is written numerically. “With the salon and the product line it was a case of calling it something different or by my own name, which I hated the idea of.”
There are 12 products in total, divided equally between three categories of shampoos, conditioners and styling products.
The 250-ml. shampoos are all suitable for everyday use and don’t contain chemical detergents. There’s a green tea and mandarin shampoo to refresh the scalp and condition the hair, a mint and lime shampoo with chamomile and lemon to add shine, fig and neroli shampoo with rose hip and silk protein to restore elasticity and luster, and finally, rosemary and eucalyptus shampoo, which contains red seaweed and sage. All are priced at $18, or 11.5 pounds, converted at current exchange.
The conditioners contain coconut oil, shea butter, kukui milk and silk proteins to soften, nourish and protect the hair. There is a 250-ml. everyday conditioner priced at $18, a 250-ml. moisturizing conditioner with sweet almond oil priced at $20 and a 200-ml. leave-in conditioner at $17. A 250-ml. intense hair treatment is also in the line for $24.
The styling products include a 150-ml. styling cream for $17, a 150-ml. volume spray for $20, a 150-ml. grooming lotion for $24 and a 100-ml. wax for $15.
With a good eye for aesthetics, it’s no wonder the 4th_Floor products look good, too. The North design agency created the low-key look of the line. The products come in clear plastic bottles with white stripes spiraling around and disjointed typewriter copy printed at an angle.