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The future of hair salons in the age of coronavirus

The future of hair salons in the age of coronavirus 1

This is the saga of a bleached blonde (there’s another kind??) in coronavirus time. Quarantined, wearing a baseball cap four months, she hadn’t had her roots done since January.

In another galaxy, not in New York but in the state of Massachusetts, her longtime hairdresser reopened. No phoning. Appointment and confirmation by e-mail. Three days in advance came a three-page dos-and-don’ts protocol. No cash would be handled. Only credit card with prearranged tip. The day before the appointment she was to e-mail reconfirmation.

Told, “Wear an old shirt. No smock, apron or towel will be given.”

Also: Arrive 15 minutes early. Remain in your car until colorist notifies by text she’s ready. Rules: Proceed to door. Wait outside. Present ID. Your temperature’s taken with a thermometer plus some instrument against your forehead plus a curbside Q&A about your health.

Wear gloves and mask. Have nothing with you but car keys and cellphone. No coats, no handbags. No sandwich, tea, coffee or water will be given.

Dots are on the floor six paces apart. Patron must stand on furthest dot until waved in. It usually has 10 chairs, 10 stylists. Now, two chairs, two patrons, two hairdressers. Their shift is 6:30 a.m. till 2. Two more take over until 9:30.

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Tapes have closed unused booths. One client at a time. No shampoo girl, manicurist, receptionist, assistant or matron. No cloakroom, no changing room. No reception desk, no products to purchase, no magazines with stories of Gwyneth getting thinner or sniffing out the strangest of candles, Madonna getting older and yet attending a London protest on crutches, Kanye getting gentler and rolling out a Yeezy beauty line. No settees, no waiting room, no friends.

Assuming you’d like a facial, forget it. Pedicure? Uh-uh. Brows shaped? Lotsa luck. Makeup testers or trying false eyelashes — no. Electrolysis? No. Tanning? No. Waxing? No. No specialists, no fragrance trying. Chin plucked? Shove it. They’re not sanitizing tweezers. Also no time-consuming hair treatments. It’s one shampoo booth with tapes across those unused.

Then comes the interesting part. Outside the building, directly on a busy city street, out in the air, smack against a bagel shop and alongside a jewelry store sits a line of hardback wooden chairs. They’re strung along the avenue 6 feet apart. This is exactly precisely where clients mid-procedure wait for their tints to take or the frosting to frost and with the procedure’s silver foil strips on their heads. There, where friends and neighbors can pass by and see them, they sit and wait for their coloring to color.

And this is to cost them $350 yet.

The colorist? Masked, gloved and with plastic covering her head and mouth. She looks like a welder. And the place looks like a warehouse. Plants, flowers, gone. Photos removed. No music. No garments placed on chairs.
And from whence cometh such Draconian rules? Patrons were told: “It was hours of training. To prepare, the management brought in a retired New York City policeman.”

Great. And if Mrs. de Blasio has her way, a whole precinct could give you your next feather cut.

Historic razzle-dazzle

More glamour and beauty. Jill Spalding (Spence and Miss Porter’s School grad, so she’s very very Upper East Side) has written Parameter Press’’ “Luxury, a History.” Goodies from perfumes of Arabia to cedars of Lebanon to Damien Hirst’s diamond skull to “Emperor of the Aztecs suspending a turquoise from his nose.” Apologies to the emperor, but with CV, no time to stick a gemstone up your nostril. Pub date’s delayed until March.


Barbershop client: “It’s tough shaping my beard because the problem is I don’t have a distinctive chin.” Barber: “No problem. Your lip covers it.”

Only in New York, kids, only in New York.

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