Metro Man & Metro Home

By Stef Schwalb

Photographs by John Penwarden*
(*except for the product shot, which was provided graciously by John Allan’s)

Answer: Head to the salon where industry experts can design a style that states success during the day, but screams show-stopping rockability by night. So when Jim Spengler, drummer for the New York-based rock band Acquiesce (www.acquiesce.com), came to Beauty News NYC with this quandary, we sent him to the one place we knew could easily solve the problem by making his first “salon” experience amazing while still maintaining a serious air of masculinity. For any man in search of a style change big or small, there is no substitute for John Allan’s (www.johnallans.com).

John Allan’s offers styling that makes a man feel right at home by surrounding him with elements that put him at ease…even when he’s being made over. It successfully combines the traditional feel of the old-style barber shops with the modern amenities of a full-service, high-end salon.

The humble beginnings of John Allan’s take place in Paris in 1979 when John Allan christened his career under the personal apprenticeship of Jean Louis David. During his next ten years with JLD after his training was complete, John Allan served as a stylist in Milan and later became the National Technical Director for the JLD Hair Salons’ U.S. expansion back in New York. Under his leadership, he set up the Jean Louis David Training Center in the flagship salon at Henri Bendel’s, where he taught cutting techniques and educated the staff on the newest styles from France. He also helped expand the JLD business to Beverly Hills, Chicago, and Toronto.

In 1988, John Allan saw an opportunity to enhance and improve an aspect of the salon industry that had been sorely overlooked: MEN. He decided to open a club dedicated exclusively to them, and the result received critical acclaim from the media, as well as his clients. This helped initiate a resurgence in the men’s grooming market, and John Allan’s impact has only been enhanced as time goes by.

For 16 years, he has been successfully dedicated to the men’s grooming market, elevating it to an art form that surpasses just a haircut. Instead the salon provides men with a full-service experience (detailed a bit further below) in an environment that features a club-like atmosphere complete with leather club chairs, pool tables, cigar rooms, and cool jazz tunes playing unobtrusively in the background.

These surroundings, plus the choice of a free beverage (high-quality cappuccinos or beer), was enough to convince our guy to place the future of his hair in the more-than-qualified hands of John Allan’s Technical Director Jesse Sweet. The process was a collaborative one. “I met with John Allan and Jesse Sweet a few days before my haircut,” said Jim. “We talked about how to cut my hair. They asked me about my music and my new job. After getting a feel for the band’s music and understanding that my position at Ntirety (an information technology sales firm) wouldn’t be too rigid with corporate attire as some other industries, they decided to cut several inches of my hair but leave just enough to keep it trendy.”

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Jim was privy to a John Allan full-service experience, which incorporates a scalp massaging shampoo, conditioning treatment, hot towel, expert haircut, manicure, shoe shine, and for him, several Stella Artois.

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Jesse used a razor to cut Jim’s hair, which gives it an edgy texture. He also cleaned up the side burns with some clippers. After all of the strands slipped to the floor, it was time for a bit of color. In addition to a shorter style, Jesse and John Allan had decided a dark shade of brown would suit Jim well, so Chocolate Truffle was applied to his entire head for about 20 minutes. This color was semi-permanent, which means it fades out as the hair grows. Instead of producing a big change, the shade seems subtle yet strong.

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After the color was rinsed, Jesse proceeded to show Jim how to style his new hair. The flexibility of the cut allowed for an as-corporate-as-you-want-to-be Gordon Gecko look from “Wall Street” during day for face-to-face client meetings, which is easily achieved with some gel and a comb to slick strands back. It also encouraged a causal daytime style set in place with ease by using some gel and the fingers to work a part through the hair. For the stage style? Jim should spread some pomade evenly through his hair and style it as messy as he likes with his fingers. Jesse told Jim that “the more you sweat and throw your head around during a show, the better the cut will look,” which was good news for a guy who thought the prospect of looking like another member of the corporate line would be terrifying to him.

And what was the most amazing aspect of this transformation? Everything took place in under an hour.

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The signature full-service treatment runs $65 at the salon, and full-year’s membership to the salon is encouraged and popular with clients as well for only $695. These memberships include all full-service appointments plus two gift certificates and a 10% discount on other services. Some of the other salon specialties include spa services such as a full body massage, relaxing facial, manicures, and pedicures.

Hair services, aside from cut and color, include highlights, relaxers, and beard trims. Shoe shine services range from shine and repair to golf shoe cleaning and spike replacement. In addition, the Midtown location has partnered with Savoia Custom Clothiers (he has a shop within the salon), a renown hand tailor who is a fashion and media favorite (appearing in over 40 publications worldwide), to provide clients custom made clothing possibilities. John Allan also recently released a new skincare line that includes products for the face such as face wash, scrub, astringent, face moisturizer, and eye cream, as well as shave specialties like shaving cream, post-shave splash, and balm. For the body, there’s a bodywash, the x-bar, a body moisturizer, and lip treatment. The line is being sold at Barney’s, as well as select Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom stores. John Allan haircare line, which features shampoos, conditioners, and styling agents, has already won rave reviews, so the skincare line is bound to be a success as well.

There are two New York locations for John Allan’s, with a third one soon on its way. A session at John Allan’s a great a gift for a lady to give her guy, or a guy to give himself. There are numerous gift certificate packages available, as well as corporate ones too.

John Allan Downtown 95 Trinity Place Tel: 212-406-3000

John Allan Midtown 46 East 46 Street (Between Madison and Park) Tel: 212-922-0361

Originally published July 2004
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