Back to his Roots

With its baby grand piano, 40-bottle wine list and the aroma of freshly baked croissants wafting from the kitchen, Arium, a salon in the heart of Manhattan's meatpacking district, would be right at home on the Champs-Elysées. A combination hair salon, art gallery and café, Arium is hairstyling guru Philip Pelusi's first New York outpost, where the focus is as much on the arts as it is on hair.

"Arium is about what's inside the head as well as what's on the surface," says Pelusi, creator of Phyto-Life haircare products and the haircutting technique known as Volumetrics. "It combines my devotion to hairstyling with my love of the arts and serves as a place where artists can come together. It's sophisticated, and that's the objective."

In a sense, Pelusi is simply going back to his roots—and it's got nothing to do with haircolor. His first salon, which he opened in Pittsburgh in 1965, included a gallery, and he's maintained an appreciation of the arts ever since. "Arium is my way of supporting the arts community," he says. "This salon is unique—it's like a Greenwich Village neighborhood spot from the '40s or '50s, where like-minded people could come together to talk about things like art or politics, and to learn from each other."

Pelusi, who owns 14 namesake salons in the Pittsburgh area, partnered with his longtime client and friend, Jamie Titus, a lawyer and artist, and prominent New York chef Richard Guier to create Arium, which means gathering place in Latin. After searching for four years for the right location, they found a 3,500-square-foot dilapidated warehouse, which once housed a printing press, and they spent more than two years restoring it.

With its expansive windows, handsome mahogany furniture and elegant white columns, Arium has an air of refinement and formality. Titus designed the 14 hand-carved mahogany styling stations based on furniture styles from the1840s, which are simple but solid, with lovely, unfussy curves. In the café, patrons can order cocktails, sandwiches and tea and take in an art exhibit. Plans for piano recitals, fashion shows and readings are in the works.

Pelusi joins a growing number of big-name stylists who have opened salons nearby, including Sally Hershberger, Oscar Bond, Michael Angelo and Orlando Pita. He plans to bring in a few highly talented, established stylists who identify with the concept, and hopes eventually to recruit a group of top-notch junior stylists. While he'll remain based in Pittsburgh, he'll use the space to service his New York clientele.

One thing is certain: After 40 years in the business, Pelusi is not slowing down. The opening of Arium coincides with the launch of P2, his new line of products for aging hair, and he's also considering opening other salons with the same combination of hair and the arts. "I'm thrilled to have the chance to interact with talented artists," says Pelusi. "It's another reason to live, another opportunity to keep you going."