It takes a certain dedication to excellence and a forward vision for an owner to close all six of his bustling hair salon-spa locations on an otherwise busy workday to allow his employees to learn about their craft from a master. Edwin Neill II, who owns Neill Corp., the parent company of Paris Parker Salon-Spas, believes that in the long run forgoing a day's income from the Aveda-concept salons will pay off in the long run by giving his stylists and beauty professionals a step up on the trends, styles and techniques that are on the fashion forefront.

All Paris Parker Salon-Spa locations (4900 Prytania St., 891-8874; 1400 Annunciation St., The Saulet, 528-1962; 6505 Spanish Fort Blvd., 282-8166; 3301 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Lakeside Shopping Center, Metairie, 846-5256; 333 Canal St., 568-1124) will close Thursday, June 6, and employees will travel to Neill headquarters in Hammond for a daylong workshop led by Aveda Global Technical Director David Adams, who establishes trends and develops products for Aveda as well as acts as hair stylist for designer fashion shows and ad campaigns. Erminio Fiocca, who was trained at Vidal Sassoon in London and now teaches at Aveda Institute's London Academy of Hair Colour, will demonstrate cutting and design techniques for Paris Parker employees.

The workshop, which was staged, planned and funded by Paris Parker, includes models sporting new haircoloring and designs, demonstrations of haircoloring and cutting techniques, a session about Aveda makeup, hands-on hairstyling workshops and more.

"It's definitely unheard of, especially in this day when everybody's business is down," Thais Lange, a public relations consultant with Neill Corp., says of closing the salons to allow all employees to fully concentrate on expanding their skills. "He's forgoing a tremendous amount of revenue from six salons. He has a tremendous commitment to quality." Part of that commitment has led to Neill's involvement with Aveda, which makes a full range of hair, beauty and well-being products made from all-natural components. Neill Corp., headquartered in Hammond, La., is the largest distributor of Aveda products in the world.

The salons generally offer a full range of hair services as well as makeup application, Aveda products and spa services that include massage, manicures and pedicures, facials and more. Some, like the salon at The Saulet, are connected to fitness centers.

"We feel we're the premier salon in the New Orleans area for total relaxation," Lange says. "Every time a client comes in to have anything done, they get something extra, like a hand massage, just to help them relax.

"Because of our close affiliation with Aveda, we have access to this kind of talent," she says, referring to Adams and Fiocca. "He wants his stylists in Louisiana to have access to the latest information in coloring and cutting techniques ... so when you come to the salon, you know you're getting someone who has the knowledge and can execute the techniques. If you go to Paris Parker, you know the stylist has been trained by an international master."

Adams, who travels all over the world to conduct shows and seminars, worked with hairdressing notables Vidal Sassoon, Trevor Sorbie and others before joining Aveda five years ago. His celebrity clients include Claudia Schiffer, Cher, Anna Friel, Bjork, Alex Kingston, Minnie Driver, Peter Gabriel, Sting, Stockard Channing, the Spice Girls and others. He also has worked on numerous runway shows and ads for international designers as well as in films and the theater, and is co-author of the 1998 book, The Art of Hair Colouring.

Adams' and Fiocca's imparted experience, skills and foresight will translate to better customer service in the salons, even if the New Orleans market chooses to hang on to current hairstyles rather than fast-forward to next season's trends.

"Our stylists will have the latest styles, which haven't even come out in the magazines yet," Lange says. "What the client is going to see -- even if they come in and just want to have a bob -- is that the stylist has improved skills and cutting techniques. So even if they don't ask for the latest look, they're getting the latest technique in cutting hair." Some are aimed at helping the customer maintain the look they desire even after they leave the salon.

"Our stylists are going to talk to the customer and find out what's important to them," she says. "For some people, it's really important that they can replicate the style. You have to have the right tools for that. Others just want a cool cut and will even close their eyes while the stylist is cutting it."

Overall the focus of the salon is to help people relax and feel pampered. Even before your personal consultation with a stylist, the staff will offer "something extra" like hot tea, a hand massage, a warm pillow for your neck or other lagniappe. "You really get a chance to relax and disconnect from work or whatever," Lange says. "For the hour or so you're in Paris Parker, it's really a relaxing experience."