Although positioned in a prime location, just a few doors down from the popular Osteria Giotto, the exterior of Vanity Salon at 9 Midland Avenue is deceptively simple, leading passers-by to believe there's little inside but your typical salon space.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
With disco music playing in the background, the two-story historical building is decorated in completely unique furnishings and details designed to create an island of luxurious tranquility amid a sea of modern French Baroque.
The owners, Anthony Cimolo and Nicole Piccione, pride themselves on being able to pamper their customers in gorgeous surroundings. The salon is outfitted with crystal chandeliers, the latest in beauty products, and custom made furniture from Italy.
"We wanted to do something special but not make clients feel overwhelmed," Cimolo said. "We're a L'Oreal seller and L'Oreal is based in Paris so we have a Parisian look."
Cimolo and Piccione opened Vanity Salon on Midland in late March after nearly two years of renovation work.
Cimolo raves about the location, just across from Buds For You and within view of the YMCA on Park Street.
"It reminds me of a side street in [Greenwich] Village," Cimolo said.
Previousy, the pair operated their salon out of a smaller rented space on Valley Road.
"About 10 years ago this place was an art gallery. Then it was sold to people for a cafe, but it never opened. It sat idle for about five years. We bought the building almost two years ago and completely gutted it," Cimolo said. "This is a historic district so we had to consult with the town on certain things. But everything here, every window ... everything ... is new."
The aim, he noted, was to create a place that had an "awe" factor but that wasn't pretentious.
One look around and it's clear he succeeded
The dazzling main salon space leads to a lounge area where the walls are covered in a velvet-flocked damask wallpaper in lavender and black. Here, clients can relax while waiting for their color to set as they watch fashion shows on a flat-screen TV and nibble away at French macaroons.
Upstairs, in the area set aside for services such as airbrush tanning, there are Sanijet pipeless foot baths so you can get a pedicure without worrying about bacteria. Nearby is the so-called "bridal suite" that can be rented out for private parties, decorated with full-length mirrors and tall whimsical chairs like something out of Alice In Wonderland.
"I love going to Vanity. From the moment you walk in—especially in the gorgeous new space—you feel like you're somewhere special, and everyone is so nice! They bring you magazines, get you coffee, and I always love the way they do my hair," said customer Joanne Bloomstein. "When I first went in several years ago, my hair was a disaster, and it's really so much healthier and better now. I give them full credit. I have no interest in schlepping into the city any more when there's such a great option right here in town."
Cimolo, 30, said he personally designed every corner of the cutting-edge salon.
"Every single thing ... every single fabric ... I picked myself," noted the Belleville resident. "Everything is symmetrical."
Besides the decor, Cimolo is equally as jazzed about the products Vanity uses.
"We're a L'Oreal Professionnel Salon," he said. "L'Oreal is an imported product. It's prestigious and unmatched. We're also the first L'Oreal Power Dose treatment center in the United States."
Power Doses are single-dose treatments that are a personal favorite, he added, because they can be quickly applied and give customers exactly what they want.
"It's the most amazing treatment out there," he said.
The salon also offers an ammonia-free permanent hair color called INOA.
At Vanity, there are seven stylists and two junior stylists, as well as a handful of beauty technicians. Haircuts start at $70 for women and $35 for men. Partial highlights cost $100 on up; complex Keratin treatments start at $300. A manicure is $15; a pedicure is $25.
For more information go to www.vanitysalonnj.com.