By Craig Patterson
Holt Renfrew has partnered with Toronto-based Medula & Co. to open hair salons at two of its stores. A Medula & Co. salon has already opened at Holt Renfrew Square One in Mississauga, and a second location will open towards the end of this summer at Holt Renfrew’s CF Pacific Centre location in Vancouver.
Medula & Co. was founded by world-renowned celebrity colourist Luis Pacheco, who’s extensive list of clients includes Megan Markle. ‘Hair Artists’ at Medula & Co. specialize in advanced colour design and application, extensions, and women’s and men’s cuts and styling.
Medula & Co. is effectively doubling its salon count with the new Holt Renfrew concessions. Medula’s first two locations, both standalone, are in Toronto’s Yorkville area (112 Avenue Road) and at 809 Queen Street West. Medula is known for its hair services that include cut, styling and colour, as well as makeup and related beauty services.
Until recently, only Holt Renfrew’s 50 Bloor Street West flagship had salon/spa services in-store. The ‘Holts Salon and Spa’ has been a fixture on the store’s second level since 2011, and prior to that the space housed Canada’s sole location for the Estée Lauder Spa. Holt Renfrew’s Vancouver flagship also housed a large two-level salon and spa when it relocated to its current 737 Dunsmuir Street space in 2007, though the salon closed in late 2015 to make way for renovations that included adding a 5,000 square foot Chanel concession to Holt’s street level in the summer of 2016.
Department store beauty salons aren’t uncommon, though they have a unique history in Canada. Saks Fifth Avenue’s two Toronto stores were supposed to include John Barrett salons when they both opened in February of 2016, though neither ended up opening — a broken relationship resulted in litigation between the salon and Saks that led to the cancellation of multiple proposed locations. A Donato Salon + Spa ended up opening in the salon space at Saks CF Sherway Gardens in October of 2016. The space dedicated to a salon on the second floor of downtown Toronto’s Saks Fifth Avenue store remains unoccupied to this day, despite having fixtures that were installed in the summer of 2016.
In the United States, several Nordstrom stores feature similar services, including ‘Spa Nordstrom’, ‘Spa Nordstrom Express’ and ‘Style Bar’. Vancouver’s Nordstrom flagship at CF Pacific Centre, which is one of the top two stores in the company, features a DryBar which includes beauty services such as blowouts, manicures, pedicures and brow sculpting.
An interesting memory for Canada, as well, is when Eaton’s partnered with Elizabeth Arden in 1993, prior to Eaton’s bankruptcy in 1999. The Southgate Centre Eaton’s store unveiled an Elizabeth Arden “Red Door” spa which was part of a gorgeous renovation to the space that would have been a prototype for future Eaton’s store renovations, though the company’s financial woes led to its acquisition by Sears Canada and the Southgate renovations were unfortunately dismantled to rebrand the 260,000 square foot space as a more mid-market Sears store.