Through street level doors behind all the mannequins, shoes, hats and pristine folded t-shirts is where I find the staircase. Descending, in the corner. Yes, in an unexpected place. Once I enter I have no idea I am in a department store. John Allan’s Men’s Grooming at SAKS Fifth Avenue Beverly Hills. The sexy black box theater style grooming lounge looks like it could be a set on Paramount Studios lots. Three shoe shining chairs. Large pool table in center of the room. Design style I am for sure I should know. But don’t. On this occasion, a band is playing. Still natural spring water in cute plastic bottles with a SAKS Fifth Avenue label and cardboard boxes from Nonna’s, an empanadas joint, are along the far wall. A bar is serving Clyde May’s Bourbon and Peroni beer. Bottles of Dry Farm Wines in the opposite corner. The industrial style lights dimmed just so the mood is present. The game is on the flat unobtrusive TV screen, above the bar, as they, TVs, are these days. I haven’t had a television in years, mind you, so, to catch a bit of a game waiting at the bar is always nice. I am not usually on this side of the bar socially much or rarely ever really. After a few photos of a shoe shines in progress and contemplating my own pumps shine, I decide to check out the goods on the pool table. Wine promotion cards, list of prices & services and samples of John Allan’s products casually misplaced on purpose. I ask two gentlemen if the samples are compliments of John Allan’s. Neither know. One of the two gentlemen returns a few moments later and confirms that items in the table are for the taking. This also includes a CD from the band. The lead singer is on the cover jacket. Speaking of lead singer. Making contact with the lead singer and taking in the room, I am asked to participate while the band takes a break. Ah, participate in what, I think. True to form with a messy top knot on my head. I wear it so I don’t flick my hair. My hair is also dirty. I am in no fashion, despite my fashion, to be in the center of any room. I expect to take in the room from the sidelines not be ushered to the front of the room where a chair has been placed for me. I have a seat. The bass player begins to play pizzicato. I thought the band was taking a break. And then, about eight bars in, as I start to realize the song, light sound, despite the bass stature, it is pizzicato, the bassists is soon joined by the entire band and they all begin to sing “You Are My Sunshine”. Had someone put them up to this? I feel my face. It’s hot. Before I know it, my face is as red as a red tomato and given my top knot I probably look like one. Wouldn’t you know it I am suddenly on my feet. My two left ones. Dancing! I am a terrible dancer. Waltz what? I can shake my ass when I need to and ballet I know..and I am a yogi (not that this is really relevant). Looks like tomatoes dance! As gracefully as I can holding the lead singer’s hand with one hand and my recycled tire wallet and iPhone6 and my rather large Volvo key in the other. Now I wished I had brought a handbag. After the show, I make my way back to the side wall next to the empanadas. Two gentlemen introduce themselves. I get a history of “You Are My Sunshine” song from one gentleman from Louisiana and the other gentleman says, “it was very apparent that you are not a dancer”. They both agree I was cute and a good sport about it.! Yeah! Anyway..
Back to the salon. This grooming salon is cool. Men, mostly wearing sport jackets, are getting manicures and shoes shines, drinking bourbon and beer all the while. Memberships are available and encouraged but some walk-ins seem to be welcome. This is a place “where service meets style”. That’s a trademark for sure. If you can’t find your way to Beverly Hills, don’t worry. Other locations are in NYC, Toronto, Chicago and San Francisco.
Oh and the products, seems as if I can smell them before opening. The colors vibrant and certainly get my attention. Packaging clear, clean and modern. I would want to have them in my bathroom whether they be my husband’s (when I have a husband) or mine. Sometimes I steal from the boys!
I accepted this invitation from My Beverly Hills. I am glad I did. I love men. And men’s grooming salons. During hairdressing academy and even during my time at the Sally Hershberger Salon in West Hollywood, I decided that I wanted to be, besides a blonde expert, a “Men’s Grooming Stylist” for Hollywood’s hottest. Not now. Celebrity or not, a sharp dressed well groomed gentleman will certainly get my attention. At one time, I even had several important conversations about opening my own men’s grooming salon. I need an extra 400 Barbering hours to go with my 1600 CA State Cosmetology hours. I still appreciate a great man’s haircut and the science of hair, especially hair color. Pigments of hair and shapes of hair cuticles and the inability for certain hair to retain moisture is fascinating to me. I will always look at a head of hair and attempt to guess the color formula and the color line used. I certainly appreciate a good head of highlights and absolutely know the difference between a good blow-dry and a bad blow-dry. At the end of the day, for my career, I lost passion for it. Probably somewhere in my years of assisting and brief stint with private clients.
Grooming and holding ourselves to standards without going overboard is important. It is important! This also doesn’t mean “he” is less “manly” because of it! Women get to go to salons and pamper and feel good and so should the men. So, for the men in your life consider a membership to John Allan’s, a single service visit, or even a shoe shine for the next holiday or “just because” gift. As for me, I’ll be learning the Foxtrot.
Until Next Time…
*** all photos are taken with my iphone6***