Beauty

By Kate Harvie

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The front desk at John Barrett Salon, on the ninth floor of Bergdorf Goodman

It’s fitting that, depending upon where you enter Bergdorf Goodman, your journey to the John Barrett Salon should be somewhat labyrinthine, because something fabulous awaits you at the end. Upon going into the 58th Street door, you wind around to the elevator and exit on the seventh floor, where you’ll then pass through the dreamy, ladylike collections of Diane von Furstenberg and Catherine Malandrino. There is where you’ll find the elevator to the department store’s storied ninth penthouse floor, where the salon is the sole occupant.

Your first glimpse of the salon includes skin-flattering lilac walls, a stunningly simple white orchid, and warm light – these bring tranquility to a place that is, at the risk of understating, bursting with energy. John Barrett and his team are known for elegant, sexy haircuts and color, as well as makeup application (using Trish McEvoy products exclusively), eyelash extensions, and nails. Robin Benet, the salon’s managing director, gave me a tour of the facility, and informed me that the Goodmans lived on the ninth floor. Lucky family – the enviable view of Central Park, Fifth Avenue, and the Plaza is beautiful and serene.

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I recently had the pleasure of the manicure/pedicure service the salon offers. Ludmilla, the nail artist who worked with me, is so popular that she is booked with standing appointments up to a year in advance. The restful pedicure area is off to the right side of the salon, with opaque white glass obscuring the hairstyling action, and almost feels as though you’re in another establishment. No detail was spared as I sat, soaking my tired feet in a tub filled with warm, sudsy water and smooth, polished stones from the Delaware River (so clients have the option of massaging their own feet).

Ludmilla informed me that the callus, the enemy of all women in spring and summer shoes, is the foot’s natural protective cushion. Where they are on the foot is a reflection of how one walks. Like all top notch nail artists, Ludmilla used a file, not a razor, to smooth my feet. After the soak, she gently took hold of my feet and filed them soft. After the filing, she shaped and clipped my nails, painstakingly to achieve the optimal shape. I’m not embarrassed to inform you that I have one toe that never quite looks right…thanks to Ludmilla, this toe can stand with the rest as a model citizen. She pushed back my cuticles and then applied a soothing foot crème with rice, soy, and oat proteins and a little glycolic acid to accelerate the exfoliating process.

I asked Ludmilla what products the salon uses for feet and she informed me that in an effort to uncover what works best for their clients, the salon alternates every few months. In her words, “It’s all about how the feet respond.” She also reminded me that using a file, instead of a razor, to smooth calluses, is better for the feet in the long term: the file takes of just what needs to go while a razor can cut deeper than necessary and damage the skin.

This would be a good time for me to point out the salon’s dedication to hygiene. During my visit, Ludmilla used brand new versions of the following: two foot files, pumice stones, white buffing block, pink buffing block, and orange stick. All other tools were removed from the sterile confines of sealed packages. This is not only healthy and safe for clients, it’s comforting as well.

After soaking my feet for a second time (with the application of soothing crème), Ludmilla filed them again, pushed back my cuticles again, and then massaged my feet – particularly my toes – with crème. She wrapped my feet in hot towels and finished with a good pumicing and more crème. I am not exaggerating when I share with you that my feet have never, ever been more soft than they were after all of Ludmilla’s efforts.

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When the time came to choose a color, I asked Ludmilla about the hot shades for manicures and pedicures. For the fingers, the look is natural and buffed, in minimally opaque beige and pale pink tones. For the feet, the look is a more saturated one, with a little shimmer or iridescence – fuchsias, watermelons, and mauves. I chose a deep coral with a hint of gold shimmer. When I lamented to Ludmilla that I wished I could do my own pedicures at home, she exclaimed, “Who can?” As she went on to explain, due to the angle at which the feet must be held, it’s better to have someone do it for you. The pedicurist faces your feet and can use both hands.

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When we moved to Ludmilla’s manicure station, I sat adjacent to a window overlooking the fabled view I mentioned previously. As the sun began to set, the carriages that traverse Central Park were starting their nights. It was a quintessentially New York moment. Ludmilla made my hands and nails look soft, smooth, and professional, per my request to leave the nails without polish.

The manicure/pedicure experience at John Barrett Salon is an exceptional one that truly pampers you, leaving your hands and feet practically perfect. Treat yourself or a friend as soon as you can to get your feet ready for summer.

Tips For Keeping Your Pedicure Fresh
According to Ludmilla, a good pedicure should last, on average, for four weeks, depending, of course, on how one uses one’s feet. Here are some ways to extend the life of your newly painted toes:
1. Use a pumice stone in the shower on the heels and soles of your feet.
2. Use foot crème day and night – wear cotton socks at night if possible after moisturizing your feet. A great way to use up your less than favorite eye and face creams is to use them on your feet, says Ludmilla.
3. Apply one layer of topcoat 10 days after getting the pedicure; Ludmilla’s favorite topcoat is also mine: Seche Vite (around $10, available at Ricky’s locations around NYC).

To make an appointment with Ludmilla or any of the nail artists at John Barrett Salon, call 212/872-2700. The salon, which will celebrate its 10th anniversary this summer, is housed on the ninth floor of Bergdorf Goodman, 754 Fifth Avenue (between 58th and 57th Streets) in midtown Manhattan. Manicures are $32 and Pedicures are $65. Learn more about John Barrett at http://johnbarrett.com.

Originally published June 2006
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