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Los Angeles stylist Chaz Dean has a celebrity clientele list that reads like a who's who in Hollywood, and yet the humble-hearted hair designer has a Zen-like aura surrounding him that instantly puts clients at ease. Born in Vermont, Dean was adopted as a baby, then grew up in New Jersey and the Pennsylvania countryside until he was 13, when his family relocated to Southern California. He graduated from high school in the small town of Simi Valley, California, then his family moved again to Phoenix, Arizona. In high school, he had taken photography courses, and developed a passion for it during a cross-country trip with his family. After chronicling the entire trip back and forth across the United States, Dean decided to pursue photography as a career. After attending commercial photography courses in Phoenix, Dean moved to Los Angeles to make his way as a photographer. "L.A. was so big though, that I decided to go to cosmetology school to enhance my career and photography," he says. The rest is history.
Throughout those early years, Dean developed a passion for creating the "total picture." Thus, he is an expert cutter, colorist and make-up artist. "I have always loved color," he explains, "but my vision is about the whole package." After graduating from cosmetology school, Dean's goal was to work at Vidal Sassoon. "After interviewing with them, they offered me a job, but they wanted me to do only cuts or color, not both," he says. "There was no way I could do that." So, Dean went to work for a salon that allowed him to both cut and color instead, and worked his way up through the ranks during the 1980s. During his tenure there, Dean was asked to help develop a product line, which became highly successful for the company. "That was why and when I got interested in developing products," he says. Dean eventually wound up managing a salon in upscale Bel Air, California, but the salon was struggling. When it went up for sale, Dean purchased the salon, changed the name to "Chaz Dean Salon", and began building clientele - including an impressive roster of celebrities.
By the mid-1990s, however, Dean began wanting a new location. "People used to drive by the center when my salon was in Bel Air and videotape my clients, then the next week they would show up in the tabloids," he explains. "I decided I wanted to offer an environment that was more intimate and secluded, a safe-haven for my clients." Once he found his new location, he split his time between the two places for awhile, but decided to close the doors to his Bel Air facility in 1999 to focus entirely on the creation of the Chaz Dean Studio and Lifestyle bungalow in Hollywood.
Though his clientele questioned his move from an upscale Westside location to his current location in the heart of Hollywood, most have followed him through the transition, and his celebrity following is dedicated. Among those are Melissa Gilbert, Jennie Garth, Finola Hughes and countless others. His philosophy of respecting and maintaining the health and integrity of the hair has won him many loyal fans.
Though his primary focus is hair, Dean has continued with his photography, utilizing the space above his salon as a studio. "Photography was my vision that started it all," he says. In addition to donating his photography for charity events, Dean also shoots "personality" and celebrity photography. "I love to capture the essence of an individual on film," he says.
With a genuine passion for helping others, Dean regularly participates in charitable functions, often donating his photography services, and he frequently opens his salon doors to host fashion shows and other events. Recent activities include hosting an Oscar Retreat called "Make the Discovery" for 2005 Oscar nominees, presenters and guests; and Emmy Style Lounge benefiting Heal the Bay; the MTV Style Lounge for the 2005 MTV Movie Awards; and his four-time involvement with Design Cure. Dean has donated gift baskets to Women in Film, the Genesis Awards and Le Prix Crystal, as well as for movie premieres. He also contributes regularly to the fight against pediatric AIDS.
When he is not behind the chair or camera, Dean enjoys yoga, Pilates, cycling, hiking with his dogs, spiritual meditation and cooking. "I should have known I'd wind up doing hair," Dean adds with a laugh. "I used to cut all my sister's doll's hair, then I cut her hair. I wanted to be in a career where I had creative input. I needed a creative outlet, and by doing photography and hair, I can be completely myself."
So dedicated is Dean to the belief that shampoo can be harmful to hair that he has not used ordinary shampoo on himself or his clients in 14 years. Though it's a tough sell the first time he tells a client he will clean his or her hair with conditioner, Dean says they quickly understand. "Everyone thought I was having an early midlife crisis when I stopped using regular shampoo," he says with a laugh. "But it's funny, the most reluctant clients become the most loyal and dedicated."