Blowout

By Schaefer, Kayleen | The New Yorker, November 7, 2011 | Go to article overview

Blowout


Schaefer, Kayleen, The New Yorker


"Don't take this the wrong way," Mitchell Rossi, a stylist at Drybar, a new hair salon near Union Square, said to Laurie Cole one recent evening, as he swivelled her toward the mirror to show her his handiwork, "but you look like an un-Botoxed, natural version of Kyle on 'The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.' "

Cole, a spinning instructor, wasn't insulted by the comparison. Her long dark locks had been styled, with a giant curling iron that Rossi called "the big boy," into loose curls that resembled Gisele's. It was a combination of the Cosmopolitan and the Mai Tai, two of the six looks offered by the salon, at forty dollars a pop. Drybar offers only one service: having someone wash and dry your hair. Its slogan is "No cuts. No color. Just blowouts."

Drybar's hair styles are named after stiff drinks. "Pick your poison," reads the shop's version of a cocktail menu, which lists such 'dos as the neat Manhattan and the full-bodied Southern Comfort. (For underage customers, there are Shirley Temple ringlets.) The decor is happy, with a chandelier made of bright-yellow blow-dryers; vases filled with lemons; a big TV playing romantic comedies; and complimentary champagne.

Cole got up from her chair. "I love the way you work a brush," she said to Rossi, as she headed to a drinks date.

Rossi greeted his next client. "O.K., sweets, what are you thinking about doing?" he said to Adrianna Beer, a Parsons graduate with a kinky, chin-grazing bob. It was her second visit that week. "How about like Lauren Bacall?" he said. "Very forties glamorous." He went on, "All of the looks we think are modern today aren't. Kim Kardashian's hair? That was Rita Hayworth."

Despite all the glamour talk, Drybar is playing to our hard economic times: compared with an expensive haircut, a blowout is a manageable recession indulgence. Alli Webb, the salon's thirty-six-year-old co-founder, who wears a hot-pink extension in her blond hair, says, "In the fifties, women got their hair done for a week and they didn't touch it. I wanted to bring that back. I wanted to modernize that behavior."

The first Drybar opened last year in Brentwood, in Los Angeles. There are now ten locations. The owners plan to add twenty-five more by the end of 2012, including one in midtown, in January. …

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