Hair Mecca: George at the Four Seasons Gets an Updo

October 24, 2013

When the government was shut down earlier this month, George at the Four Seasons Salon keep clipping along with its art of making political and media types and other influencers look great.

With our economy in a meltdown during late 2008, I first wrote about this very special place in the heart of Georgetown that is a media sanctuary for so many, regardless of what’s going on in the world. For decades, George Salon has been home to hairdressing for dignitaries, media magnates and regular folks looking for a quality cut, blow dry, manicure or pedicure. At the Four Season’s Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue at Georgetown’s eastern gateway, it’s a glamorous place people continue to flock to make themselves beautiful. I met my husband the night I got my hair done there in 2004, and I was hooked.

With George Ozturk still at the helm, famed hairdressers, Ismail Tekin and Omer Cevirme, have taken on management roles, as they continue to service some of the most well known names in Washington and everyone in between.

The bold-face names of George’s clientele include House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, former Secretary of State Madeline Albright, former chief of protocol Capricia Marshall and journalists Judy Woodruff, Norah O’Donnell, Arianna Huffington, Kathleen Matthews and Chris Matthews (that’s right). Some of the Kennedy clan have shown up, too: Ambassador Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, former first lady of California Maria Shriver. I even saw Rory Kennedy there before a premiere of one of her HBO films. (George Ozturk went to the White House during the Clintons years to do first lady Hillary Clinton’s hair.)

The story as of late is that the salon has had a re-do — with a new entrance, colors and additions. The George Salon re-launch party a few months back was packed with friends, clients and some fabulous Washingtonians donning their finest. Thankfully, Rick Raines is coordinating efforts in his usual fashion at the front desk, as Mr. go-to guy.

“I want to bring along my team of talented hairdressers and the gifted, who continually show great promise to our clientele and our salon,” said Ozturk, who founded the salon in 1985. “Ishmael and Omer have so much to offer and will be more involved in the day-to-day.”
Carl Ray, George’s renowned make-up artist and the go-to guy to first lady Michelle Obama and other wonderful clientele, is marketing a new boutique line of products called FINISH’D.

What’s the secret to the George Salon’s success? “We make everyone look and feel great when they come in here,” Ozturk said. “You don’t have to be a model to look fabulous.” The new updates have made it even more worth a visit.

State of the Media

May 23, 2011

May 3, 2010 — Georgetown — Last Saturday, while every White House correspondent in town was dusting off their tuxedo or getting a blow dry, there was Kitty Kelley, famed author of “Oprah: A Biography,” in the heart of Georgetown selling and signing her books for the benefit of the Georgetown/D.C. Public Library. We had interviewed her through the years when I was at ABC news and NBC News, and she was always considered controversial. Her ‘unauthorized’ biographies on the famous icons of our time — Jackie O, Frank Sinatra, Nancy Reagan, the Bushes — dished the dirt and then some (when it wasn’t necessarily as accepted), and sold millions and millions of copies. She has been interviewed by almost every major media outlet out there, including Larry King, Barbara Walters, GMA, The Today Show and 20/20 (when you meet her in person you understand why, she’s quite charming and gorgeous). When I asked her how the book was doing this time around, she kindly whispered, “It will be on the bestseller list tomorrow.” What does this have to do with the state of the media? Keep reading.

That evening, another icon, our President Barack Obama, showed NBC and the world who had the better writing team as he wowed the socks off of the 3,000 or so journalists, White House correspondents and their star-studded friends with self-deprecating jokes fit for, well, a President and for national broadcast. The guest comedian, Jay Leno, was having a bad hair day, totally scripted and clearly just off of the plane from Los Angeles. Can you say red-eye? He missed a beat or two. I’ve met him in person and he’s just one of the great performers of our time. It wasn’t his job to upstage the President. Obama quipped he was glad he was not following Jay Leno because we all know what happens to the act that follows Jay Leno. There was great laughter and it went on and on to great network fanfare.

What’s the official state of the media in 2010? Ad revenues are shrinking, news audiences are morphing, and people aren’t loyal to one news source any longer, according to Amy Mitchell of the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, but a good joke or a steamy celebrity biography can still win an audience. Pew’s sobering report confirmed the inevitable: that 1) The notion of a primary news source is obsolete. 92 percent get news from multiple platforms, let alone news sources. 2) Old media still dominate online but that is changing. 3) Revenues are way, way down. Funding for real reporters has decreased dramatically with this loss. 4) Nobody knows where to go until we figure this all out. Basically in the news business it’s a free-for-all, especially now that news users are getting their news content from friends and social media sites. It’s a brave new world out there. Guess who dominated in revenues last year? Fox News!

Back to my chance meeting with Kitty. “How many interviews do you have lined up, Kitty?” I asked. (the book was released week before last) “We’ll see,” she said. The book was released on April 13, and though she has already been interviewed by the Today Show and Fox News, many other outlets, including ABC, Larry King, David Letterman and a host of others declined, due to their allegiance with Oprah. When you dis probably the most famous and enterprising black woman of our time, you are sure to make enemies and friends at the same time. And when you are exposing the ugly secrets of that specific media mogul, who, Kelley reports, is also one of the most controlling forces of our time and has some ugly secrets. According to Kelley, some of the major news media aren’t going to touch the subject. This is Oprah. “Did you know there are 23,000 websites on how to get on the Oprah show?” said Kelley. I bought the book. And the next day, there she was, just like she said, #2 on the New York Times bestseller list in the first two weeks of being released — regardless of network fanfare.

How does this relate to our current state of the media? Information and news are going to continue to be dispersed and where that news is coming from and going is an open field. And no matter how low you go, or how high you fly, if you play your cards right and the stars align you can hit pay dirt, make it on the bestseller list or, like President Obama’s White House correspondents speech, get 455,000 hits in one day on C-Span.

View the Pew Center report at

Claire Sanders Swift is a broadcast journalist turned national media consultant. All Things Media is a monthly column. Contact with comments.
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Media Sanctuary

In an economy where small luxuries win the day, George’s at the Four Seasons salon lands high on the list of places to go that cost that extra dollar but are worth every penny. Just ask some of George’s well known clientele, including Nancy Pelosi, Norah O’Donnell, Jamie Gangel, Kathleen Matthews and Chris Matthews (men go too), Maureen Dowd, Desiree Rogers and so many more. Or ask Rick, who schedules appointments. He’ll take care of you along with everyone else who works there.

Why would a national media consultant be writing about a Georgetown hair salon? Because it’s Georgetown’s best kept secret — a mecca for headliners and legends from near and far for all people. And when you walk in, regardless of who you are, they make you feel like a star and you walk out looking like one.

I came across George’s when I needed my hair touched up for a black tie party, having just moved back here from NY and Los Angeles. Omer Cevirme, known for his signature blow dries (He’s made Washingtonian’s Best list a few times), blew my hair to sleek perfection. I met my husband later that night and the rest is hair history. Omer did my hair for my wedding at National Cathedral and has for every special occasion since, including baby christenings, showers, and birthdays to come. I just feel fabulous when I leave, along with so many of George’s loyal followers.

But when I ask George, for whom the salon is named, to comment, he says no, it’s all about the talented people who work with him, the Omers of the world who make people like you look and feel so good. George Ozturk and his wife Deniz run things with a few of their handsome sons (they have five sons and three are in the business) and have been open since 1986. George says People and W magazines have hounded him for interviews but he’s not budging an inch. In this town of so many names, George’s understated way is comforting. He’ll never confirm or deny his list of clientele. What happens at George’s stays at George’s.

A few more important tips: Minh gives the best pedicure in town, I swear. Good luck getting an appointment — she’s booked solid, but try. Her colleagues are good too. And Carl Ray, who does make-up like you read about in glamour magazines, gives that extra touch that might win you that award you were talking about. He’s always booked for weddings, black ties or something at the White House. A few years ago, I walked in and there was Rory Kennedy, having a touch up at Carl’s booth before the premiere of her film on Helen Thomas. She looked fabulous by the way. Shh.

All in all, George’s is a place where Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, and just plain moms (and dads), share one beautiful thing: our comfort and our vanity. At your fingertips, you’ve got Washington’s best blow dries and color treatments of a lifetime, the best manicures, pedicures and a make-up job that might give you that extra ratings point or vote you were searching for. In the end, my favorite part about George’s is that everybody is somebody when you are there, and when you walk out, you feel that way.

George at the Four Seasons Salon is located at in the Four Seasons Hotel at 2828 Pennsylvania Ave. Contact the salon at 202-342-1942.

All Things Media is a monthly column. Contact with comments.
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