“Make it as extreme as possible,” I told Paul, the Creative Director of Pimps & Pinups and personal hair stylist for my recent visit. With a bittersweet glimmer in his eye and a brief glimpse in the mirror at his own head of hair, Paul started to transform my American comb-over into an East London undercut. I say bittersweet because Paul got to have some fun cutting almost all the hair off the sides and back of my head while leaving the rest nearly untouched. But Paul has fewer creative possibilities with his own hair, due to limited coverage up top. Despite this irony, Paul gave me an exceptional sAlon experience.
With a thick Northern England accent, the Yorkshire native previously worked for Pimps & Pinups’ original London location, which opened in 2002. After receiving very favorable reviews in top publications, such as British Elle and Vogue, the sAlon didn’t waste time bridging the Atlantic gap. Just three years ago, a New York location was opened on Ludlow at Stanton Street.
Three aesthetic charges are at play in this chic salon. First, predominantly black walls cover both the exterior and interior. Second, lights reminiscent of dressing rooms frame each chair’s mirror and selectively hang from the ceiling. Third, a sign colored watermelon green, flamingo pink, and vibrant blue identifies the space with its audacious name, “Pimps and Pinups.” All three ingredients serve up a fierce experience of fun, originality, and excellence.
Paul explained that a lot of time has been spent tweaking the very successful London formula in order to cater to the needs and desires of the NYC market. The largest challenge is getting actual British workers in the sAlon (so they can pronounce “salon” with an emphasis on the “A” and make me giggle with glee while I subtly alter my own accent in an effort to seem British myself). But the sAlon’s South Australian founders, Simon and James Charrison, are working hard to earn visas for native Brits to move overseas. Quite the undertaking, but all a part of the experience, not just a haircut, that is meant to transport and entertain you while receiving excellent service.
Pausing every few minutes to allow me a sip of a beer that was offered upon check-in, Paul meticulously maneuvered and snipped around my hair until the perfect result was achieved. Although there were few lapses in conversation between the two of us, there were great tunes, like Salt & Pepper, to fill the quiet moments. I was most impressed by Paul’s genuine knowledge of hair products. Rarely has my hair looked terrible when walking out of a salon, but few times am I able to recreate its previous greatness on my own thereafter. Yet, with Paul’s great product suggestions, I have been able to do his excellent haircut justice with simple and consistent styling ever since. Hopefully he’ll be pleased when I see him again in a month.
Pimps & Pinups, 101 Stanton St., (646) 861-3766, www.pimpsandpinups.com
F to Delancey St., F to 2nd Ave., J/M/Z to Essex St.