La Belle Vie

Salon Rouge in downtown Minneapolis may be miles away from the cafes and coiffeurs of France, but from the minute you step under the red-and-white striped awning and into the salon's ruby-colored, gilded entryway, the Parisian influences are unmistakable. Owner Richard Staab and his partner Jeffrey Dunn combined a love of all things French and a passion for hairdressing to create a chic and sophisticated space with Old World charm. "We wanted to open a salon with a point of view that was all our own," says Dunn. "We live in a time where everyone says that 'less is more' when it comes to salon design. We weren't really into that."

Filled with stunning old chandeliers, antique armoire mirrors, Boucher murals, marble floors and toile wallpaper, Salon Rouge seamlessly mixes objets d'art and Parisian flea-market finds with state-of-the-art equipment and modern touches, such as Belvedere shampoo bowls, brought in from Europe. and Philippe Starck's Tulip chairs, which are located in the reception area. The dE9cor is a far cry from the Art Deco-style salon Stabb owned for 17 years before selling it and opening Salon Rouge in a small basement space he purchased, which had been empty for nearly a century. "I decided to downsize because I wanted more of a European feel, and I also wanted to focus more on retail," says Stabb. "Then we traveled to Paris three times in a year, and that really inspired my vision."

Retail is a major focus at the new salon and about half of the space is devoted to it. Dunn stocks it with customary salon lines like Bumble and bumble, Phyto and Deborah Lippmann nail lacquers, but also with hard-to-find luxury imports he discovers in Paris or in high-end retail stores like Barneys New York, including Mazet Chocolates, Kevyn Aucoin, Mason Pearson, CF4mme des Garcons Parfums, Antica Farmacista luxury fragrances and Roger & Gallet soaps. Dunn says many clients come in just to buy gifts, and in a single day, revenue from retail is often equal to or more than revenue from services. "I love having a chic perfumery that doesn't feel generic or cheap," says Dunn. "This is something we are passionate about, and it's great for building business. Clients get excited about it."

Since opening in March, the buzz about Salon Rouge has grown quickly in Minneapolis. They get three or four referrals a week, and clients frequently book their next appointments far in advance. "Our salon is not just about having a salon service, but also about buying something for a gift or for your home," says Staab. "We offer a whole different experience."