The stylists at XEX Hair Gallery love being in downtown Chicago. “It’s such a blend of different kinds of people down here,” says David Perry, co-founder and lead stylist at the Aveda concept salon. For such a diverse clientele, stylists are trained in-house to master haircare for all ethnicities. They also travel around the country to attend ongoing-education classes. “We always try to stay up on what’s current and what’s in fashion,” Perry says.
There’s a notable visual difference between XEX Hair Gallery and most other salons—pieces of Venetian Murano glass artwork by Raphael Darra provide bold pops of pigment along the salon’s neutral-toned walls. Besides giving the salon a funky, artsy feel, the pieces serve as a metaphor. “Hair is art,” Perry says. “Not only does [the art] bring a lot of color to the salon, it also reflects the individuality of what people are.” If the art on the walls recalls a hip coffee shop or David Geffen's attic, it’s not an unfounded connection. Perry calls his salon a “discharging chamber . . . where people come in and they feel like it’s home. People know your name, you feel welcome, it’s a cool place.”
As for the coffee, the salon serves wine and beer, but someone will run out and get a cup of joe for clients if that’s what they request. Says Perry, “You name it, we’ll get it for them.”