My grandmother always loved the services of a grand store, as opposed to a boutique. From our little Prince Edward Island in the 1960s, she’d make twice-yearly pilgrimages to Montreal, where she would set up residence inside Ogilvy, the once venerable fashion institution (that appears to be making a comeback).
There she’d choose her clothes for that season, enjoy lunch, and have her hair styled—all under one roof. Although I’ve enjoyed my share of cool salons on the street—Mark Garrison, Salon AKS—I find that I am my grandmother’s granddaughter: I do like the concept of stylish inclusivity.
And so it is that I typically make my way to Bergdorf Goodman, up to the ninth floor, for Frederic Fekkai in the early nineties, for John Barrett in the noughties.
This trip, perhaps it was the luck of the non-Irish: I booked the John Barrett salon for cut and color at 11:00 on Monday, March 17—the day of the annual Saint Patrick’s parade. The parade was also scheduled to begin at 11:00 about ten blocks below my destination, so I thought I could slip in to BG off 57th Street and avoid the crowd on 5th. But I hadn’t counted on police barricades, which lengthened my journey considerably and jostled my sensibilities.
Fortunately the salon was an oasis from the increasing outdoor festivities, and was all but empty of clients. Indeed it felt like I had booked the entire salon for myself, which was a rather luxurious thought.
Some three hours later, I emerged from the chair, still layered and long, but now a “dark golden blonde” with highlights that I’m quite pleased with. (The image I’ve selected to dramatize my new hair is one of Natalie Clifford Barney, an American in Paris during the modern era who held a literary salon there. She’s ten years old in the portrait, and while I am not, my hair looks like it could be!)
Apres hair, Bergdorf’s eight remaining floors (plus the beauty section in the “basement”) remained to be explored. The atmosphere this spring reminded me of a circus—strong primary colors for clothing, bold chunks of jewelry, gladiator (lion-taming?) sandals galore. Indeed, the whole store had a cheerful and youthful vibe that day.
Perhaps Bergdorfs is to me what Tiffanys was to Holly Golightly: the latter soothed her “mean reds”; the former calmed my “green nerves.” Happy belated St. Patrick’s Day.