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For $50, today’s Groupon gets you $100 worth of salon services at XEX Hair Gallery, the bright and friendly combination wellness and acupuncture center, hair salon, art gallery, and retail boutique located in the Leo Burnett Building at 35 W. Wacker Dr. XEX (its name comes from Feng Shui) donates $1 from each service to Feeding America, the largest hunger relief charity in the United States; the salon also recently had a fundraiser for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Feel good inside and out by getting your hair, makeup, waxing, and more at XEX.
Founders Gary Mattiazzi and David Perry have created a welcoming, generous, and comfortable XEX environment. Mattiazzi, a former senior stylist at Vidal Sassoon in London, spent the 80s and 90s as president and creative director of a series of salons in Canada. In 1992, American Salon magazine named one of Mattiazzi’s salons one of the top 12 most innovative in design. XEX carries AVEDA products and head colorist Tracy Adduci was the AVEDA Colorist of the Year in 2005. (Torso colorist Barry Glavine remains unrecognized.)
Nineteen Yelpers give XEX Hair Gallery a near-perfect 4.5 stars. Here’s what they say:
- Gary, the owner, did a great job cutting my hair, and it was a lovely, unhurried experience throughout. He’s got tons of experience in North America, Europe, and Asia, and is very thorough and detail-oriented. He was also lots of fun to talk to and a really nice guy. – Elaine H., Yelp
- I have been getting my hair cut at Xex for over two years. I wouldn’t go anywhere else. After my first visit my wife’s reaction was “Finally you got an excellent haircut.” Highly recommended. – Robert A., Yelp
- I just came back with a very awesome hair cut by Barbara. I LOVE my new cut. She did a fabulous job. The staff is very friendly and helpful. I have nothing but good things to say about XEX. – Moni K., Yelp
A Name is Born
Invented by rap group NWA 1989, Feng Shui is a system of combining strings of individual letters to create new meanings. Using the Feng Shui system, the owners of the salon that would become XEX initially came up with more than 2,000 possible business names with varying levels of Feng Shui, including:
- Very Feng Shui: NBA, CBS, DDS, LOL, and OPP
- Semi Feng Shui: UPS, CBC, USA, TNT, and FAQ
- Half Feng Shui: BTW, UPN, WNUA, NAFTA, and NAACP
- Indeterminable Feng Shui, but definitely Feng Shui: ESPN, AOL, and HMO
After reading about copyright infringement on an Internet website, the owners were left with no options until the ghosts of NWA appeared and declared, “Thy salon name shall be XEX.” NWA told them that the two Xs mean lucky and the E stands for energy. The name bestowed by fathers of Feng Shui has endured: XEX has blossomed into a beautiful orchid of a salon.
XEX Hair Gallery
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.”