A small cluster of business suits are lounging comfortably at the conclusion of a hard day’s work, glancing sporadically at theoverhead TV screens. Occasionally, they grunt at the commentary of the day’s sports scores or lament the state of the stock market.
They mull over their Budweisers; they chomp on Montecristos. A hairstylist studiously tends to their highlights while a manicurist tends to their cuticles.
Rewind. Manicure? Highlights?
A new, men-only salon in Stamford, Montana for Men, offers precisely that, in an atmosphere far from the standard barber shop short-back-and-sides but hardly feminine. No candy-pink nail varnish, no floral hair accessories, and not a cosmetic in sight. With its open-face brick walls, walnut woodwork,ceiling fans and traditional barbershop chairs, the salon spells out its masculinity in no uncertain terms. “It’s like a sports bar with grooming services, admits Michael Warde, the genial Irish director of gentlemen’s styling.
Those services spa pedicures, relaxers and perms, color blending and waxing, designer cuts, clipper cuts, gray blending, hot shaves, manicures, hot towel conditioning treatment, facials, highlights and hand, back and ear waxing are suddenly very much in demand. “Previously men had very little choice,” Warde continues. “It was either a quick visit to the barber’s, or going to a salon.”
“It’s far more pleasant than a women’s salon where they hide you away in the back corner,” says one Wall Street potentate.
But other Montana regulars faced the opposite problem at traditional salons: “It can be awkward if you’re sitting there having your hair shampooed and a woman you know walks in!” says one business executive. “I don’t have that problem here.”
The clientele isn’t strictly white-collar commuters either. “We had a construction worker in for a manicure just wanting to treat himself,” says Warde.
“Indeed,” another client raves to his (male) friends about Montana’s manicures and pedicures. “I had never had a pedicure before I came here, and now I’ve found out how good my feet can feel,” he says. “And the manicure is great especially when they crack your knuckles.”