NEW YORK — Frédéric Fekkai’s new 9,000-square-foot salon easily might be one of the city’s largest, most well-thought-out spaces. Frustration, it seems, can fuel a hairstylist’s fire.
A new salon for the celebrity mane cutter was imminent since his joint venture with Chanel Inc. ended early in January 2005 and his former salon took up five floors in the fashion house’s building on 57th Street. That salon also meant 10 years of ritual elevator riding, a necessary evil that began to wear even on the jovial Fekkai, as well as his customers.
His new $4 million mecca affords him not only a spacious nest away from the roost — at least for now — but the opportunity to take salon design to a new level. Under the direction of Manhattan architectural and design firm S. Russell Groves, the new salon spans the entire fourth floor of the legendary specialty store Henri Bendel, and uses singular space options to meet the needs of men and women alike.
One nook, separate from the salon’s main cutting and color floors, is a men’s styling lounge outfitted with four barbershop chairs positioned in front of shampoo sinks, making the journey from a wash to a cut effortless. Cracked subway tiles, gleaming sink hardware and flat-screen TVs add to the masculine element of L’Atelier de Frédéric, which is staffed with dedicated stylists.
Another area, a narrow space adjacent to Lalique windows overlooking Fifth Avenue, is still being designed, though the store’s former third-floor salon, Garren, used the natural sunlight shining there as the prime place for an eyebrow specialist to pluck and tweeze.
A pedicure room, adjacent to the style floor, is made more private by recessed custom banquettes, and features freestanding white English butler sinks with nickel-finish hardware and, of course, the ubiquitous plasma TV.
Frédéric Fekkai Salon & Spa opened April 19 at 712 Fifth Avenue and greets each customer with a 5-foot, glimmering stainless steel Fekkai logo inlaid into a reclaimed barn-wood floor. Lavender pillows accent brown velvet couches, and cowhide rugs decorate the lobby and sitting areas, which are modern and softly lit and dotted with monochromatic arrangements of purple flowers. The space avoids too many details. Rosewood and mahogany cabinetry and Fekkai’s colorful product line are the design stars. A minimalist approach gives the new salon a clean, spacious feel that allows customers freedom of movement. Fekkai expects the new space to generate as much as the old salon, or $15 million the first year.
All hair care and color services are available, as well as massage, waxing and nail care. True to his corporate style, Fekkai’s employees wear uniforms: lavender and white military-style shirts and beige pants, designed by Amanda Brooks.
Henri Bendel chief executive officer and president Ed Bucciarelli said the salon is an appropriate complement to Bendel’s.
“As a leading international style authority, Frédéric Fekkai is a wonderful addition to Bendel’s cadre of experts from the worlds of fashion, accessories, beauty, skin care and fragrance,” he said. “The expansive space enables the salon to offer their complete range of services all on one convenient level. In addition, the unique and dramatic configuration of Bendel’s Fifth Avenue atrium space inspired Frédéric and his team to create L’Atelier de Frédéric, the new private men’s styling lounge.”
Neither Bucciarelli, Fekkai nor Fekkai ceo Melisse Shaban would comment on rumors that Limited Brands, which owns Bendel’s, Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works, is in talks to purchase Fekkai. But industry sources said that certain Limited executives are silent partners of Fekkai, even though, following the split from Chanel, the beauty company partnered with private equity firm Catterton Partners of Greenwich, Conn., now its lead investor. Besides the salon’s custom-made furniture, fresh flowers, Internet access, flat-screen TVs, walnut panels, velvet upholstery, lavender draperies, individual vanity mirrors and revolving art exhibit, one detail really separates the new space from the former Fekkai salon: Numerous checkout areas throughout the floor allow a quick getaway from all the pampering.