The long of the short of it

There is a new direction in fashion.

On the runway this season, it is the 1990s. Alexander Wang presented a fabulous collection that is elegant and strong.  The models had shorter hair and the style looked fresh and new.  I remember cutting hair in the salon at Barneys in the ’90s so this was for me a happy reminder that the beautiful work of the past can inspire change today. 

This brings me to a recent experience with a new client, Amanda. As we were introduced, I felt a distinct openness about her that was confirmed when she said, “My hair is too long.  I know I need a change.  I don’t mind cutting it shorter. “

I always step lightly when a client says she wants change. I asked what she was thinking.  “First off, I am really more edgy than I appear,” she said. I raised my eyebrows. Then she added, “I have tattoos.”  She was a breath of fresh air.  I felt a good connection as we discussed the possibilities. 

Amanda’s hair was lovely.  She had fresh highlights and there was plenty to work with (most clients think their hair is too thin or not responsive) and I knew all that was needed was a well-shaped cut. As we were determining the length Amanda let me know that she had had a challenging year. There were four traumatic events, any one of which would have sent someone over the edge. It stopped me in my tracks when she followed with this statement, “You know, Brian. It is only hair. It will grow back.”

We decided to cut her long hair to the collarbone. It would be a good start. I couldn’t help but think about the strength and vibrance this charming woman embodied after all she had been through.  Later she would inspire me to consider how often women are empowered by adversity, stepping beyond their circumstances to bring about great change.

Hair can be a symbol of that, like Jo in Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women,” cutting off her long dark tresses — her most beautiful feature — to raise money for her father’s care. Flappers in the 1920s bobbed their hair as a statement of liberation. That same spirit seemed to pervade this young woman in my chair.  

As we finished Amanda’s haircut, she noticed it was about an inch above her collarbone and she said, “You tricked me. It is above the collarbone, but I am happy you did it because it was the right thing to do.” We both laughed.  I asked her to stand for me as I always like to see the haircut in the reflection of the mirrored wall next to my station. As Amanda walked towards it, she stroked her hand through her hair several times and said, “I love it. It is perfect.” It was obvious that it was more than she expected. 

It gives me joy to make a client happy.  You see, so much goes into design — understanding the material you are working with and the style that is possible to achieve. Most important for me is who the client is — her essence. There is always something beautiful for me to see.  I always want the style to represent the best of her.   

Shorter hair is coming this spring along with a more relaxed look. Color is changing as well.  Highlights are more refined, with finer strands achieved through balayage, which adds a glow to the color.

Not surprisingly, I call the technique “The Glow.” It’s a wonderful complement to shorter hair. Remember, shorter hair doesn’t have to mean short. We just want it to be more current and reflect the sense of freedom that is fashion moving forward.   

As I observed Amanda paying at the front desk, I was pleased to see how put together she now appeared. Her new haircut and color were in perfect harmony with her attitude. She was ready for the world, knowing where she was coming from — and where she was going to.

Visit Brian at Warren Tricomi Salon, 1 E. Putnam Ave., Greenwich. To book an appointment with him, call 212-262-8899.

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