May 15, 2012
I woke up early with a nervous curiosity. I was about to have my hair colored by someone new for the first time in more than five years. After living in Paris for close to a year now, I have been extremely lucky that this moment did not happen months ago. My longtime hair colorist, Aura Friedman, travels to Paris for Fashion Week with Serge Normant and had been wonderful enough to color my hair in her downtime in her hotel bathroom between shows. This season, however, she was needed in Los Angeles, so I was forced to put my hair in the hands of someone new.
There are not many people I trust more than my hair colorist. My Norwegian roots make it impossible for me to dye my hair completely black, something I have desired since I was a teenager listening to heavy metal music in my bedroom. After several years of tinkering, Aura and I found the perfect mix of dark brown and red, or what my boyfriend so lovingly calls purple, to give my hair the edgy dark appeal that I desired without making me look like I just walked off of the Twilight set.
Armed with the knowledge that I would require a particularly deft colorist to match my shade, I quickly went to work asking friends for recommendations. My first shock was that hardly anyone I knew in Paris actually dyed their hair. For someone who started seeing the occasional white hair at 23, I was both envious and slightly flabbergasted. Thankfully my friend Natasha, with her razor-cut, cherry red locks, had a colorist recommendation to share: the Living Room salon.
Located directly off rue de la Roquette in the trendy Bastille district, the salon-slash-art-gallery is also steps away from the bars I frequent, where I could presumably go to drown my sorrows if the appointment turned awry. After trolling through the website’s image gallery of adventurously groomed clients alongside iconic shots of Kate Moss, I was sold.
The first thing that surprised me about the process was how easy it was to make an appointment. I called on a Wednesday and had an appointment for the following Monday. My call was answered by the owner, Matt, who after perfecting his dry cut style in London for six years, was quick to help me in English with the hair vocabulary my French has not yet mastered.
When I arrived for my appointment I was greeted by my colorist, Aurélie, who took my coat as I took in the decor. With a cubed electric fireplace on the mantel, a vintage foosball table set underneath graffiti wall art, and two glass cases filled with everything from old bowling pins and Japanese cartoon characters to old radio sets, it took me a moment to remember that I was getting my hair colored and not having a drink at a friend’s apartment.
I was seated in one of the four black leather chairs where I showed Aurélie a picture of what my hair looked like just after my last coloring. 70′s hip hop music played in the background as she produced a book of shades so that we could verify the exact color I wanted before getting to work on my mix. She labored over her concoction right next to me, and once she was done I nervously realized that the final outcome was blonde in color. Blonde? I thought we had a deal here!
After crossing all my limbs that there was nothing lost in translation, she quickly painted the color onto my roots and worked her way down, leaving just the ends of my long hair dry. After about 20 minutes, I was led to the sink where the rest of the color was pulled through and my hair was washed and conditioned. Aurélie then dried my hair herself, finishing it in French fashion by letting the bulk of it dry naturally. She escorted me with a mirror to the front door so I could check on the final result in full daylight.
There was no blonde in sight. She had nailed it.
I walked over to the check-out desk with a genuine smile on my face. The entire process took a total of one hour and 15 minutes and cost 75 euros, with an additional 10 euro tip for Aurélie. I was relieved that someone other than my Aura could now be trusted with my hair, and thrilled to find a quirky salon that understood the edgy look I was going for.
Besides missing the vintage dresses and companionship of Aura, the only other thing I would have liked would have been a nice finishing gloss to make my color a bit shinier – but I’ll just remember to ask for that next time. I look forward to revisiting the wooden panels of the Living Room in another three months and even plan to add a cut for 45 euros as well.
22, rue des Taillandiers, 75011
Open: Closed on Sat and Sun, all day
- Try out a new look without the commitment at the “Bangs Bar” in Paris
- The secret to perfect travel hair? Dry Shampoo. No joke!
- If you’re looking for a more traditional cut, La Nouvelle Athenes is fabulous
Written by Nicole Smith for the HiP Paris Blog. All images by Didier Gauducheau, photographe, www.didiergauducheau.com, 06 03 54 39 73. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, London, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.
Written by Nicole Smith
A born and raised New Yorker, Nicole Smith is a freelance writer living and working in Paris. After first visiting the city six years ago, she finally made the move in 2011 with nothing more than two suitcases and a handful of French phrases. Having extended her language abilities and luggage, Nicole enjoys relaxing in her neighborhood near Canal Saint Martin, exploring the literary landmarks of old, and taking numerous day trips throughout the country.