John Barrett opened his salon 23 years ago at the penthouse in Bergdorf Goodman. In April 2019, the Irish-born hair maven moved his operation to 432 Park Avenue tower and his “new” Upper East Side salon is expansive. The 15-foot ceilings feel as though they go on forever and the independent styling stations are endless, each with a chic and somehow equally eclectic aesthetic. There are dozens of employees sprawled throughout the floor long before 9:00am. Despite the sizable nature of the space, the John Barrett Salon is inviting and comfortable. I peruse the tables of TRINNY LONDON beauty products before spotting one of my favorite dry face masks by Nanette de Gaspé. The cabinets of vintage jewelry catch my eye and I am quickly admiring antique Chanel broaches and jewels before my appointment.
With a cappuccino by my side, my hair colorist George gives me a quick consultation. Within minutes we bond over our shared love of music. In particular, rock and roll. Who hasn’t dreamt of being a rock star? Okay, maybe not everyone, but I have. George, whose gleaming head twinkles in the light, used to be in a grunge rock band way back when and since then has gladly taken on the task of chauffeuring his young daughter to Panic! At The Disco and Twenty One Pilots concerts.
While we banter about hairstyles and music from past eras (read: Kiss), I realize that I have been unknowingly transported to my comfort zone (which is not typically a chair at a hair salon). My head has been covered in foils and I nearly forgot I wasn’t grabbing coffee with an old friend. At the hair washing area, I am greeted by another friendly face and the at-times frustratingly repetitive small talk you endure at a new salon is nowhere in sight.
As George finishes coloring my hair, he pauses our conversation and says, “Oh, it sounds like John is here. I can hear him.” The salon’s owner, John Barrett, visually reminds me of someone who would carry a pipe and rock a checkered pocket square. But, his quick wit and robust personality show me that he is not an intimidating character from a fairy tale; he is cool and I am immediately at ease.
Barrett approaches me and dryly says, “So, we have a problem. You’re a bit of a hippie and you’ve gone too far.” I can’t help but laugh. He’s right; my hair was really long when I walked into the John Barrett Salon. Like, too long.
I give Barrett complete freedom to cut my hair with minimal direction other than: “Just make me look pretty again, please.”
Maybe 10 minutes later, several inches had been cut off and my hair was finally alive again. Four weeks after my visit to the John Barrett Salon my highlights have began growing out naturally, revealing a subtle hint of summer blonde, and my ends have remained thick and vibrant.