A modern salon-meets-beauty café
CULTURE VULTURE - Therese Jamora-Garceau (The Philippine Star) - January 3, 2018 - 12:00am

A different kind of salon has just opened in Metro Manila. It’s a “modern salon and beauty café,” and it’s called La Provence.

What makes La Provence so modern, and what, exactly, is a beauty café? “It's a one-stop shop where you can do your hair, nails, have a facial, and also have French food like crepes, croissants, and drinks,” explains La Provence creative director Mehdi Moussaoui. “The goal of this place is for you to stay five, six hours and enjoy the pampering and beauty without thinking of traffic.”

Moussaoui hails from Cannes, France, and has worked as a top hairstylist and trainer in countries like Morocco, Tunisia, China, and most recently the Philippines. I met him while he was with Franck Provost, and his style of hairdressing immediately stood out for me because he knows instinctively how to make a woman look her most beautiful, not just in terms of cut and style but also color. He makes her feel beautiful, too, via his warm and friendly chair-side manner.

Moussaoui met his local partners, La Provence CEO Frank Ong and cofounders Lilibeth Ong Tiu, Kris Garcia and Heather Ong, at a René Mouris watch launch. (Garcia happens to be the local retailer of René Mouris watches, and Moussaoui was the hairstylist for the event.)

Since none of the partners, who all have their own businesses, had prior experience in the salon industry, Moussaoui supplied the French concept, and put together an international team of stylists. “Two are French (the other Frenchman is Laurent Hebert, another Franck Provost alumnus), one is Ukrainian (her specialty is barber cutting but she also does hairdressing for women) and one is from Nigeria, who's an expert on Afro hair and braids,” Moussaoui says. “This is the only place where you can find four foreign stylists. We have three senior stylists from the Philippines, two junior and three assistants. Of course, the level of the Filipino staff is high because we train them very well.”

The salon itself is stunning, boasting the height of modern design with charming French touches, and it’s also spacious, with 214 square meters devoted to brightly lit cutting stations, Le Nail Bar offering organic Zoya, OPI or Gelish polishes, a Wella Color Bar, facial beauty room, and cozy VIP rooms where important clients can get pampered in privacy.

As Wella’s flagship salon, La Provence is in tune with all the latest hair trends. Moussaoui says that while long hair is always in, they focus more on medium-length cuts, like long bobs with layers and bangs. In terms of hair coloring, ombre is still trendy — darker on the roots and lighter on the lengths. “We also have copper and gold, but in the Philippines we are still more on ash coloring,” notes Moussaoui. “It's our job to show clients new trends and colors, and also train them on how to fix their hair, how to change their look, and how to care for their hair.”

Prices are reasonable for such a high standard of service. A cut with a junior stylist starts at P400 for male and P500 for female, and goes up to around P2,500 for a cut from a top foreign stylist. A regular mani-pedi costs around P350, and P400 for gel.

“We wanted to capture all the markets, not just class A, so there’s four categories of stylist,” Lilibeth says. “But they've all been trained in the top salons. Actually, a lot of our friends are asking if La Provence is a franchise from France.” 

It’s a fair question, considering the concept also includes a French café, in case clients get hungry while they get beautified. “Some clients bring their husbands, who are just waiting there,” observes Frank.

The owners hired a chef to develop the menu, which features savory and sweet crepes, and paninis in generous portions large enough to share. We tried Le Fermier, a yummy chicken panini with vegetables and melted mozzarella on ciabatta served with potato chips (P350), and I highly recommend the Tour De France, a delightful rainbow-colored crepe filled with fresh fruits and drizzled with passion-fruit sauce.

“Merging the salon with a café is a modern trend now,” says Kris. “After work you want a glass of wine, tea… and we have three barber seats so we’re going to offer liquor, wine, and have a real bar as well.” 

She adds that La Provence is not just a salon-café: “We also offer selected premium retail items like Renè Mouris French watches, beauty products and makeup kits.”

La Provence, which officially opened Dec. 5., already boasts regular clients like Jinkee Pacquiao and Matteo Guidicelli, while Jericho Rosales and wife Kim Jones walked in during the opening.

“When clients like their hair and we see them coming back and referring their friends, it’s a great feeling,” Lilibeth says.

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La Provence is located on the 3rd floor of Central Square Mall, 30th St. cor. 5th Ave., Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. For appointments, call 824-0699, 964-7203, or 0917-808-3425. Like LaProvencePH on Facebook and follow @LaProvencePH on Instagram.

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Follow me on Facebook (Therese Jamora-Garceau), Twitter @tjgarceau and Instagram @theresejamoragarceau.

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