Hair apparent

A top women’s hair salon now has its male counterpart, one that combines the concept of a men’s spa with the sanctuary of the man cave and the social aspect of the barbershop.

In his pin-dotted dark navy shirt, black and gold Apple watch and tan Oxfords (sans socks), Paulo Lanfredi is a picture of relaxed urban style when WAG meets the Brazilian-born hair-salon owner for a tour of Cave, his new men’s barbershop in Greenwich. 

Located in a former branch of Subway on Greenwich Avenue, downstairs from his highly regarded, eponymous women’s salon, Cave is more than a barbershop, with its images of brilliantine, Barbasol and a crew-cut or Princeton clip. Lanfredi has envisioned the new space not only as a modern men’s hair salon but also a lively cultural hub. Along with men’s hairstyling and other salon services, he plans to show the work of world-class artists and host events — regular, member-only exclusives, he says, that will enliven members’ minds as well as help them look and feel amazing.

His route to hairdressing was an unusual one. Growing up near São Paulo, the fourth largest city in the world, Lanfredi was working as a physical therapist for ICU patients, a job he did not especially enjoy, when an opportunity to come to the United States presented itself in 1999. He leapt at it, settling in Greenwich where he already had friends but then had to find work. One friend, whose father was “big” in Clairol, suggested he train as a hairdresser. “So I did,” says Lanfredi. “I signed up at hairdressing school the following Monday.”

After working in New York City and then setting up his own salon, he was well-aware of a gap in the market. A few guys might come into a women’s salon for a cut, but they were not really comfortable doing so. And while boys would come in with their moms, beyond a certain age they would no longer want to. Lanfredi wanted to give men their own space, one that was the equivalent of a women’s salon in terms of luxury and pampering. And he wanted them to have their grooming needs attended to with a degree of privacy and to be able to have conversations without being overheard — in short a man cave.

Although walk-ins are welcome, the new salon operates mainly on a membership basis and rates typically include a monthly or bi-monthly cut, with a “clean-up” in between. Fathers can stop by with sons after school or on a weekend and, as well as bonding over a haircut, make use of the stand-up arcade machine, with its selection of 4,700 games. Members can even stop by for a cup of coffee at the bar — no hair treatment necessary — if they just happen to be “on the avenue.” There’s a handy row of hooks for hanging coats and bags, as well as plug outlets and USB ports under the marble-topped counter, so that the space is laptop — and device — friendly. 

If coffee doesn’t quite hit the spot, members can keep their own bottles of liquor at the salon, where they sit in a glass display cabinet, the owner’s name discreetly attached to the back of the bottle. How civilized to enjoy a shot (or two) of your favorite Laphroaig or Copper Dog while your hair is being crimped or during the “dead” time you might wait during a color treatment.

Also envisaged are member events like poker games and charity drives, all adding luster to a salon membership. “We’ll raise some money and we’ll also have some fun,” says Lanfredi. 

In the salon itself, there are Italian custom-made leather chairs facing mirrors with built-in TV screens — think very swish, state-of-the-art, luxury hotel bathrooms. Gone are the salon chairs of old in which you could almost break your neck angling your head into the basin. At Cave, the free-standing basins glide effortlessly up to the customer in his reclining leather chair, ensuring maximum comfort. “We even have cushions if someone has a back problem,” Lanfredi says. 

Greenwich designer Brittany Snyder has made bold use of stone and wood accents throughout. Slate-gray hardwood floors and great expanses of gray and black granite and marble render the space subtly masculine and timelessly elegant. A changing display of distinguished artists’ work enlivens the walls, with the North Carolina-born artist Roger Hsia’s work being currently on view.  

In addition to cut and color services, full body massages are already being offered in a well-appointed, soundproof treatment room, and manicures and pedicures will join the list of available services soon, along with oxygen therapy facials and eyebrow shaping (which are already offered in the women’s salon upstairs.) It’s a veritable one-stop shop for men’s grooming.

Adding to that  experience will be a men’s product, currently being developed in Dubai, that Lanfredi is about to launch. It will comprise an all-in-one shampoo, moisturizer and after shave — perfect for most men who, according to Lanfredi, can’t be bothered with a complicated, multiproduct grooming regimen.

With an aesthetic as well as a practical sensibility, Snyder and Lanfredi seem to have thought of everything. Even the LG washing machine and dryer, in a service area off the main salon, match the black, gray and chrome color scheme — as does the Jura coffee machine that delivers a rich espresso or cappuccino.

Lanfredi is also a stickler for hygiene, which is especially reassuring at the present time, and points out the stylish receptacles that are well-positioned for the hair that is constantly swept from the floor. 

“Hair,” he says earnestly — seemingly unaware of the exquisite irony — “is something I really don’t like to see.”

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