Chic Report

John Barrett: The Scoop on His Bond Street Digs & More

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John Barrett, a longtime star of the New York beauty scene, has taken his talents downtown with the opening of a new salon on Bond Street (though you will still find the flagship atop Bergdorf’s buzzing with chicsters). The tress master tastefully curated a collection of Warhol originals, vintage Rolexes, and stacks of Assouline classics for a space that feels all at once unpretentious, cozy, and chic.

After giving The Daily a private tour of the salon—the 2,200-square-foot-space opened in October, spans three floors, and was designed by Daniel Romualdez, who’s behind the homes of Tory Burch, Daphne Guinness, and Aerin Lauder—Barrett dished on his storied career, the new digs, and where he’s headed next…

He won a lottery to move to the U.S…
“About 23 or 24 years ago I won a green card in a lottery, and I decided to come to New York. It was a big step but it was something I always dreamed about. I was so fortunate because I started working with Frederic Fekkai, and that was the biggest eyeopener.”

Every product in the salon is carefully hand-picked (down to the books)…
“I can’t just work with a partner. They can’t just dump their stuff on me. At the end of the day, it’s a whole bunch of artistic hairdressers. For every single product we have in the place, there has to be education about it, so you don’t get stumped when someone asks, ‘What’s this about, or tell me about that watch?’ And in my apartment, there are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of books, so I wanted to bring the spirit of that in. And I’m currently working with Assouline on a book, so that was obvious.”

His relationship with Tom Ford goes beyond stocking the brand’s beauty products…
“We were discovered by the same person—Dawn Mello, who put Tom Ford into Gucci.”

He’s waited on Elizabeth Taylor…
“One of the weirdest things that ever happened to me was at the very beginning of my career, at 21, I had to go to the Savoy Hotel in London to do Elizabeth Taylor’s hair. I was so frightened. Naturally she kept me waiting for an hour, which felt like a day.”

He read Princess Di’s fan mail with Princess Di…
“I sat in a hotel with Princess Diana reading crazy letters from crazy people. Wherever she went, she would get thousands of letters, and her staff would separate five, maybe, just for her to look through. I was stunned! There was one person who suggested she needed a nose job, there was another who was a psychic who could, you know, blah blah blah.”

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He polls beauty editors for feedback…
“I asked some of the top beauty directors in town, ‘Who does your face?’ They all came back and said Tammy Fender.” [Tammy Fender is the spa partner]

He’s (sort of) in a Broadway musical…
“There was a play off Broadway where I was loosely characterized, which is actually going to Broadway, called Whirl Inside a Loop. But I’m very loosely characterized. I had a very funny interaction with the actor. He said, ‘We tried British, it sounded ridiculous. We tried Irish and it sounded worse.’ So basically the character speaks a bit like Harvey Fierstein. [laughs] I don’t think I’ll be getting a residual of that.”

He considers himself less stressed than fashion designers…
“I don’t think we’re under as much pressure in hair and beauty as they are in fashion. Frankly, I don’t understand why four people who I have not just respect for, but I think are touching on genius, are all leaving their creative positions at the same time. That does happen. It happens in every industry. Change is good. If I don’t change, I will die. Do you know what I mean? My business will die. The integrity of my business is the same 20 years later, but we have evolved through fashion and style…”

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Bond Street found him…
“Like everything in New York, if you go out looking for an apartment, the apartment will eventually find you. The real estate found me. I walked into one of the most beautiful buildings downtown, and I got it. And from there I worked. But I did have this small little area—Bond, Great Jones, these little streets around here. The vibe down here is sensational. It’s very inspirational. There’s lots of fresh ideas just popping all the time. And that’s crucial. It keeps me fresh.”

He’ll be servicing Condé next…
“People from Goldman Sachs or wherever struggled to come uptown to get their hair done. So I have a great feeling that we’ll open early and close late [at the soon to come WTC location]. We have all of Condé Nast right there. That keeps me on my toes. We’ll keep offering the best, but I know I will be pushed. I will adjust, and we’ll keep on going.”

And he’s got even more plans to expand…
“We are opening 15 salons in the U.S. and Canada, in Saks. A door will open and you either walk through or you don’t. That’s another story, I think.”

Kristen Heinzinger is the Senior Editor of The Daily Front Row/Daily Summer.

1 Comment

  1. Diana Evans

    November 14, 2015 at 3:23 PM

    Excellent article on the masterful John Barrett!
    Amazing artist and he makes me look and feel beautiful!

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