Any “it-girl” knows that having great hair and make-up is a key component in defining her style. The finishing touches necessary to polish off your makeover, you shouldn’t let all of the hard work you’ve put into improving yourself go to waste with an outdated mop on your head, or a face that looks like you were the canvas for a third-grade art project. Luckily, New York has no shortage of beauty specialists who can help you get ready for your close-up, and Stephen Knoll Salon is firmly at the top of that list.
As someone who has been known to publicly break down into hysterics due to a haircut gone wrong, I won’t easily entrust my locks to just anyone with a nice location and an expensive pair of shears. Which is why I was so thrilled when Stephen Knoll Salon agreed to undertake the task of updating my look. A premiere destination for celebrities, models and other elite clientele, the salon has a reputation for being a hair and beauty haven housing some of the most talented stylists in the industry. Stephen has an extensive client list, ranging from Anne Hathaway to Drew Barrymore to Brooke Shields (just to name a few) and his work has been seen in the pages of countless magazines, earning him the title of “America’s Master of Hair Design”. Not only does Stephen himself service clients in his salon, but all of his specialists come with bios and client lists extensive enough to handle the needs of the red carpet heavy-hitters that walk through the salon’s doors.
When I entered the salon at its upscale Madison Avenue location shortly before Christmas, I found myself surrounded by the bustling energy of socialites in a pre-holiday rush to look spectacular and earn the envy of “frenemies” they would surely encounter at the many holiday soirees later that week. The staff was surprisingly organized despite the chaos and as I waited my turn I examined one client after another. Each left beaming with satisfaction and they looked stunning. The nervousness associated with any alterations to my hair slowly started to disappear.
My first stop was with Nicolay, one of the salon’s top color experts. I winced with embarrassment under the unforgiving lights as they revealed three-inch roots of darker brown I had previously failed to notice. Nicolay’s consultation was perfect; no questions of what kind of process I preferred (as if I know the difference), but simply how I envisioned my ideal color to look. As Nicolay explained in detail the effect he had in mind, I could tell that he understood exactly what I would like.
He walked me over to Ramona -- one of the salon’s busiest hairstylists -- so we could discuss my cut. Again, I simply explained what I did and didn’t like, and Ramona took the reigns in determining what would work best. To have both the colorist and hairstylist simultaneously discuss my look was a refreshing change from numerous consultations at other salons where you rarely even meet the stylist before your color is complete. A moment later Stephen Knoll himself walked over to say hello and check on what we had decided. I was instantly reassured that I was in good hands when he examined my hair and his recommendations matched exactly what Ramona and Nicolay had suggested.
After few processes of color with Nicolay’s signature painting technique, some relaxing shampoos with a much-needed conditioning treatment (upon Stephen’s advice), and Ramona’s expertly quick yet meticulous cut, I was ready to see the finished product. I can honestly say that I could not have imagined such a huge transformation without needing to drastically change my color or length. By my own fault of not having kept my hair up frequently enough, I had walked into the salon with it looking lifeless and dull. Thanks to Nicolay, it was now a rich brown with shades of depth, and Ramona’s cut had finally given me a definable shape.
My last stop was with Stephen Knoll Salon’s own make-up expert Gina who would give me a face to match my fabulous new hair. Lucky for me, Gina also happens to be an expert in eyebrow shaping and after only a few minutes of tweezing my forever cursed “half-brows” (they fade-off toward the outer corners) they actually looked longer than I’ve ever seen them in my life, and I decided that Gina is a miracle-worker. Continuing on, she carefully selected and applied a perfect pair of lashes as she told me about how they were a favorite of one of her many A-list clients, Liza Minnelli. When it eventually came time to look in the mirror I was thrilled to see myself staring back with a natural, fresh face. It’s easy to tell that Gina really loves the art of makeup with the wealth of products and techniques she uses, and that certainly translates into her work.
The days following my experience at Stephen Knoll Salon were full of compliments and inquiries as to who had worked such magic on my hair. Even now, weeks later, the shape of my cut is going strong and my color is still vibrant. I continue to collect surprised looks and praise from people who hadn’t seen me since before my visit to the salon. Now, comparing my before and after, the update was definitely needed and I’ve resolved not to neglect my appearance by making Stephen Knoll Salon a regular part of my beauty routine.
There is absolutely no excuse to neglect your appearance in a time when camera phones and Facebook put us all in the spotlight, and no social butterfly can afford to go out looking like a mess. Too often to we see botched at-home hair experiments or someone who became a beauty victim by gambling with who they trusted with their look. You don’t have to be a celebrity or a member of New York’s social elite, but if you go to Stephen Knoll Salon you can at least look like one.
625 Madison Avenue, 2 Floor