Fixing a Lifetime of Bad Haircuts at Valery Joseph Salon
I’ve never been lucky in hair. Not that I haven’t been graced with a full of head of it, or that it couldn’t sometimes be said to look shiny in certain lights – but in cut, style, and stylist. Three of the worst do’s I’ve sported: A military man’s high n’ tight, bangs, the bowl cut my father gave me literally using a bowl (I looked like a monk from the Dark Ages, as my front two teeth had recently fallen out – I was 6). So it was with feelings of angst and learned resignation that I agreed to visit Valery Joseph’s salon for a ‘transformation.’
My last stylist (for lack of the appropriate term – barber, hair cutter, and beautician all seem dated, so I refer to everyone wielding a pair of scissors as a ‘stylist,’ even my father) did absolutely nothing to my hair. It had gotten long. Looong. But the odd, pyramid-shaped layers it had been sliced into on the visit previous to that one prevented me from really noticing, as shorter chunks grazed my shoulders while the rest floated near my lower lumbar. Valery Joseph’s swank salon is on the swank Upper East Side, on Madison Avenue and 68th (there are several other locations around town and in the Hamptons over the summer). Any worries I had about being coiffed and teased into Babe Paley pertness disappeared the moment I met Joseph, a muscle-bound, wavy-haired hunk who got his training – for hair – in the Israeli army. He assessed my follicles in the scientifically disinterested way I prefer people who are going to form an immediate and consequential opinion do – this isn’t about how such-and-such looked with a chignon on the red carpet, but how I look, right now, in Valery Joseph (cf long of hair). We agreed on a plan of action – a few inches off, much more movement, the appearance of weightlessness. My hair was washed and a prescribed level of conditioning agent applied. We began. This was an athletic hair cut. Occasionally for me – I was instructed to stand and flip my head over – but mostly for Joseph, who lunged, crouched, and squatted as he worked. It was pretty impressive to watch, and not only because at one point there were three separate people helping to trim my locks. That Joseph studied architecture is apparent in his sculptural and exacting approach to styling. I trusted him entirely. Also, he did not feel the need to talk excessively. I’ve always been wary of stylists who talk too much – if you’re concentrating that much on chit-chat, can you really be concentrating on making me look better?
After a detour with their resident brow guru (Rachel Gangemi, she is awesome), I left with the best hair cut I’ve had in…well, probably ever. All in took was two and a half hours, a man with military training, and the willingness to walk into a salon despite a lifetime of reasons why I shouldn’t have even bothered.