Sunday, March 23, 2008

Hair, Apparent

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.

7 comments:

K.Line said...

What an evocative post. I love Ogilvy (depuis 1866!), esp. the cafe downstairs that has the best palmiers. My daughter and I gorge ourselves on them when we're there... And the main floor is so garish/gorgeous. It puts me in mind of exactly what it would have been in, say, 1930. Then, all you need to do is walk up the block to Holt's at Sherbrooke. (That's my fave of all the HRs. Do you know they just redid it all?) We like to eat at Holt's too (the only thing one can afford to do in that place) and watch the models sweep through wearing the zillion dollar gowns and furs. How old world is that??

It would be great to see a real picture of your hair. I'm sure it's gorgeous. Can't wait to hear more about your trip. K

musette said...

I love the image you selected to dramatize your hair. I am so jealous! I am a brunette and recently decided upon a foray into the golden world of "blonde". I love blonde hair. I've been coveting the hair of the JCrew model.(Long Blonde: last Fall the Scottish spread/this Spring is Italy) All the the different tones you can get and all their delicious names. Tawny,Honey Tanned Blonde,Flaxen. Ah. Suffice it to say I returned to my chestnut locks. I decided I needed to go to LA if I want to get it done right. If your hair looks anything like the portrait, I'm sure your satisfied. Hmm?You lucky!

miss cavendish said...

Hi K.Line--I love that you know Ogilvy! When I lived in Montreal my apt. was on Rue Crescent, so all those wonderful shops were a skip and jump away.

I haven't been to Montreal for a very, very long time now, but I used to walk down Sherbrooke past the beautiful Ungaro vitrines every morning and spend my weekends exploring the city. L'Express was the bistro of choice then; is it still going strong?

Hi Musette--I'm with you; either coast is the prime location for a change of hair color. And I know that J Crew model! I like to wear a topknot like she does, which you probably do too. And chestnut sounds just as glamourous as tawny to me.

K.Line said...

L'express is as strong as ever! I just went there at Christmastime and you still have to make a reservation or take your chances at the bar (or go at 6 pm)...

How on earth you got any sleep living on Crescent in the summertime is beyond me :-)

miss cavendish said...

Crescent was crazy! I lived on the top floor of a building above a cafe and had many adventures--unwelcome patrons climbing up my iron swirly fire-escape stairs to perch on my tiny patio (originally a selling point of the apt; henceforth a safety hazard), a fire in the cafe about 1:00 a.m., etc. But I do miss the steak frites chez l'express.

WendyB said...

If I believed in the afterlife, I'd be convinced that heaven looks like Bergdorfs and hell looks like the Javits Center.

enc said...

Eloquently written. And I'll second that "evocative."