BOSTON — Jim Horsman, general manager of boutique hotel Nine Zero here, knows good design when it comes to hotels and the people who run them.
Horsman, the host of many fashion-related events at Nine Zero — recently a launch party for Polo Ralph Lauren’s new fragrance, Polo Black — wanted the hotel’s 25-member front-of-the-house and restaurant staff to reflect the latest fashion trends and be better equipped to maintain appropriate personal grooming. Since Nine Zero has relationships with two area businesses, a Giorgio Armani and Salon Mario Russo, Horsman said his idea for a staff makeover day was a no-brainer.
“Doing this is very much in keeping with who we are and what we are,” Horsman said. “When you look at the concept of the hotel, I want to make certain that we’re giving our ladies and gentlemen every opportunity to be educated on what … are the styles out there that should be considered modern — whether it’s how you do your hair or the types of clothing that you wear.”
Physical appearances are no stranger to Nine Zero. The hotel’s owner, Paul Palandjian, “is very hands-on and instrumental when it comes to perception and how we look,” Horsman said.
The efforts helped the hotel receive accolades for its exterior red brick, glass, chrome and stainless steel finish and interior of rich wood and warm color-accented designs. Conde Nast Traveler voted the Nine Zero best U.S. hotel by design, saying “touches throughout earn it a perfect design score.” (Like WWD, Conde Nast Traveler is owned by Advance Publications Inc.) And the hotel’s luxury atmosphere has attracted celebrity guests such as Sarah Jessica Parker and her husband, Matthew Broderick, Missy Elliott and Gwen Stefani. The 190-room Nine Zero, which is managed by Destination Hotels & Resorts, opened in June 2002 at 90 Tremont Street, roughly catercorner to the city’s famed public park, Boston Common.
For the makeover day, April 11, Horsman tapped existing resources in Collette Royer, who manages the Giorgio Armani store on Newbury Street, as well as Mario Russo of Salon Mario Russo, also on Newbury Street. The hotel frequently sends its guests for personal shopping excursions to the Armani store, and it has carried an exclusive line of Mario Russo personal care products since opening.
The first stop during the makeover was Russo’s salon, where Russo himself doled out personalized hair makeovers. “Getting up in the morning, showering and going out to work with wet hair is not about grooming,” Russo told the group. “There should be no excuse … If you work with the public, you do want to look properly groomed.”
Russo advised women staff members — especially servers at Nine Zero’s restaurant, Spire — to wear low ponytails that could be twisted into buns and held into place using accessories, such as beaded elastics, to complete the look.
Russo, who addressed the group for an hour, stressed that personal grooming doesn’t end with hairstyling. Proper makeup and nail care are essential elements to present the finished look hotel guests expect. Each Nine Zero staff member received a free haircut at Salon Mario Russo, for which Nine Zero paid.
Next, the staff headed across Newbury Street to receive tips on selecting and accessorizing the black suit from Royer at Giorgio Armani. Royer said Armani’s history with transforming both the men’s and women’s suit from a stiff, bulky garment to one with fewer layers and an improved, flowing shape has made the fashion world think of Armani “as the black suit.”
The black suit, she advised, should be a wardrobe staple because it can be worn “1,000 ways.” While one-button suits are the most current trend, Royer noted that suit styles regularly shift between one and three buttons.
A black suit is probably the easiest garment to wear because it may be easily paired with different types of shirts, Royer said.