Located near Chicago's city center in a busy, fashionable area near transportation, many hotels, restaurants, and shopping on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, George the Salon is a place of luxurious respite where men and women can relax as George and his staff create beautiful, shining heads of hair. George the Salon is focused on hair and only hair – cut, styling, coloring, and treatments.
Clients are buzzed through a street-level doorway and take a comfortable elevator up to the fourth floor where they enter a pleasant loft-style open space with dark wood floors and exposed brick walls lit by north-facing windows and skylights that bring sunlight into the open room.
Clients are greeted by the warm, smiling staff, led to a comfortable bench, and offered a choice of coffee, tea, or bottled water and a wide range of magazines. The bench faces a backlit display of the products by (among others) the Davines and Pureology lines used in and sold in the salon.
My appointment was with George Gonzalez, the owner of George the Salon. After a brief wait, George, slim, calm, and dressed entirely in black, introduced himself and took a few minutes to look at my medium length, ‘sort of blown straight-ish,’ rather dull hair and confer about what I wanted. I told him perhaps a little shorter, said that my hair was naturally wavy, then put my hair entirely in his hands. Anna took me into the darker, quieter shampoo and treatment room where, at my request, she provided a soft rubber pad to protect my neck and gave me a thoroughly relaxing shampoo.
As I sat in the chair at George's station, I could see that George aware of what was happening everywhere in the salon while, at the same time that, he spent an hour focused on me and my hair. He began by playing with the hair to determine just where waves fell and where they needed to be lightened, then scissor cut it and slowly, carefully blew it dry, making sure it was dry all over before suggesting a bit of ‘ironing’ at the end. I walked out of George the Salon with smooth, shiny hair that swung around my face in a way that had not happened with various haircuts over the last few years. The next day, I heard oohs and ahhs, received compliment after compliment, and shared George’s information over and over.
However, in Chicago we deal with crazy hot summer days and lots of humidity. That next day it was almost 100 degrees. In spite of the cut, the slow, careful blow dry, and the products on my hair, the smoothness lasted just over 24 hours. Then came the test – how would my hair look when I tried to handle it myself? Would it stick out all over? No – after I washed my hair, fluffed it with my fingers and let it dry, the resulting waves and curls framed my face. It was clear that it had been masterfully cut.
George Gonzalez has been focused on hair for nearly 20 years; among the places he's worked is the Spa at Harpo Studios, where he was a free-lance stylist to Oprah Winfrey’s guests as well as working on makeover segments. He opened George the Salon about four years ago; within three years, the salon was nominated as one of the best in the city of Chicago. In 2011, George the Salon was recognized for the pro-bono work George offers to victims of domestic violence. He has made a strong commitment to help women regain their emotional and physical confidence by providing free services as well as engaging his entire staff in his dedication to this good work. “Having a business gives me a platform to do what I feel is necessary in order to give back to my community,” he explains.
Three weeks later, after a beach vacation, I returned to George the Salon for a conditioning treatment. George looked at my dull waves, raised an eyebrow, and smiled. I went off to the shampoo room where my hair was deeply conditioned with Davines' Paraben-Free Nourishing Vegetarian Miracle Conditioning Treatment, a restorative treatment that uses no animal products and contains avocado, vitamin E, rice proteins and red algae for smoothing and strengthening, and cotton bloom, wheat proteins and olive oil esters. It smelled as delicious as the fresh country air I had been breathing just the day before. Then I was back in George’s capable hands. He checked the notes he had made about my hair and, after just a bit of snipping, he blew my hair dry again. We agreed ironing was not needed. I left the salon with smooth and swingy hair, which, because the weather was kind, lasted until my next shampoo several days later.
George the Salon is located at 23 West Hubbard, 4th Floor; telephone (312) 923-9444 or fax (312) 923-9446.
Information on services, prices, and hours is also available at George the Salon’s website http://www.georgethesalon.com
Validated parking is available.
All photos except the shampoo area supplied by Jessica McCafferty, publicist.