Walking into Israeli hair stylist Alon Shalom’s new salon on Melrose Avenue is like entering a luxurious lounge in Marrakech. From sumptuous archways to Moroccan-inspired tiles, it’s easy to forget this is West Hollywood.
Shalom wants the salon to be an intimate experience that helps his clientele relax. To do this, he has designed the space with a sense of home — which for Shalom meant tapping his Moroccan roots as well as drawing inspiration from his father’s and grandfather’s generations.
“My salon is very sharp and old-fashioned,” Shalom said, adding that he wanted a classy style — not too punk rock. “I want customers to feel like they are coming to my house, and to get to know me well enough on a personal level to say, ‘Oh, it’s so you!’ ”
Shalom, 40, has a die-hard following that turned out to celebrate the grand opening of his eponymous salon on April 29. His client list reads like a talent agent’s dream, including Israeli producer Noa Tishby and actress Mercedes Masohn.
Between his smile and sunny disposition, it’s easy to understand Shalom’s appeal. Of course his ability to style hair is what keeps people coming back.
“I’ve known Alon for almost 10 years,” said Bodo Loerke, one of Shalom’s clients. “I go to him because of his skills. He really knows how to use someone’s face for style guidance. He has a real talent — the kind of talent that cannot be learned.”
Shalom believes he was destined to be a stylist. By age 12, he was something of a neighborhood superstar in his Tel Aviv beach enclave.
“I was giving all the local women Farrah Fawcett flips,” he said. “As a kid growing up in the 1970s, I remember watching ‘Charlie’s Angels’ at my neighbor’s house every Friday because they had a color TV. I was obsessed with the hair!”
It wasn’t long before Shalom gained a loyal following. He says the local girls and their mothers would visit him each week for his keen styling sense. “I knew I could do it well, and I loved it. I was so passionate about it. The girls at school would tell me I’d be famous one day. But I was naive and thought, ‘It’s just a hobby.’ ”
His hobby eventually blossomed into a high-profile career. Quickly rising to fame in Israel, he styled A-list celebrities, models and locals alike. Within a few years, he brought his talents to Los Angeles, working in salons and in the fashion industry.
For Shalom, success is measured by the satisfaction of his clients.
“I love making people smile when they leave,” he said. “It’s much more than a career accomplishment. It makes me so happy to know that when I’ve done my job, someone is going to sleep at night feeling good about themselves.”
Consuelo Costin, an Alon client for four years, agrees, saying, “You know that as bad as you come in looking, you’ll come out that amazing. … He’s a perfectionist, and that’s who you want cutting your hair.”
For both men and women, Shalom praises class and simplicity. “God knows what he did when he created you. You don’t need to go to extremes. Instead of dying your hair an extreme color and going with a crazy cut, add lowlights and soft layers,” Shalom said.
Shalom says beauty comes from within, even when it comes to hair.
“Hair is a lifestyle,” he said. “It’s about what you put into your body and how you live your life.”
As for current trends, Shalom stands by his principle that classy is chic. “Men should take a cue from past generations. The ‘Mad Men’ look is something guys really love right now. You just need the right products.”
Another important tip that Shalom expressed is to be careful not to over-tend one’s hair. “Don’t shampoo too much because it creates frizz,” Shalom warned. “The natural oil on your scalp is plenty to give it healthy shine.”
Shalom’s enthusiasm is obvious. “I never did this for the money. It came from my love for hair and people,” he said.
But his passion has certainly paid off. Before the grand opening event, Shalom posted a poignant thought on his Facebook page: “As a kid I used to watch ‘Melrose Place’ on TV. Now I own a store there. Dream big and they come true!”
Alon Shalom, 8014 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles. (323) 782-0141.