By Kelly Hushin
His name is Vasken Demirjian, and he’s on a mission to bring style back to New York City, starting with hair. His favorite quote is from none other than Yves Saint Laurent: “Fashions fade but style is eternal.”
“We don’t really have any style icons today,” he told me while effortlessly and artistically painting highlights on my head. “New Yorkers follow fashion, but we don’t really have a style (anymore). French women had a style, Italian men had a style. We don’t have any Audrey Hepburns right now.”
And we haven’t had any for a while, he and I agreed.
Vasken hails from Turkey originally, and spent most of his time training with the best in London and Europe once he realized that hair was his true passion. He worked for much of his life in the art world, with a background in archeology and art history, where his family specialized, but when he took over his brother’s hair salon, he got the itch and has been scratching it ever since.
He fell in love with the art of hair and the pursuit of beauty and style through it. His namesake salon, Vasken Demirjian, is located in White Plains, but he has been spending lots more time in the Big Apple as a new member of the team at mizu salon. In February, he was brought onto the team as an artist in residence, and is very happy to spend half his week there, especially since his home is in the city.
Vasken’s White Plains salon>
“I am eager to share my passion and vision in color with equally dedicated colleagues, and it is invigorating to feel at home in a salon that shares a similar design aesthetic with my own flagship salon,” said Vasken.
Vasken’s utter consumption with hair as art was evident in the attention he paid me while working on my color. I was long overdue for a refresh – my roots were about two inches long and brown, against a fading blonde begging for some oomph. He asked me if I’d always been blonde and I told him that for the past few years, yes, I have mostly been blonde and he said, “Has anyone ever asked you why? Why do you keep going blonde?”
The truth was, no one ever really had so I had to think about it – perhaps more than I had in years. I came up with the answer, “Well, I feel good as a blonde.”
mizu salon, where Vasken calls home for part of each week
Perhaps not the most articulate answer – but one that did the trick. It enabled Vasken to realize what was important to his client, something many stylists and colorists never truly understand. And what’s most important to him, he said, was to maintain and improve the health of my hair.
“Hair is very organic and living,” he said. “Only healthy hair can be beautiful hair.”
“If this isn’t the best color of your life…” he said with a smile, letting both our thoughts finish the sentence. After sitting with my highlights and lowlights for around 20 minutes, I was brought to the sink where he and his color assistant washed out pieces at a time, and finally washed all of my hair at once – giving me an intense scalp massage that hurt, but in a good way as I know the loads of tension there needed to be released, at least a little.
A sampling of Vasken’s editorial work
I then went downstairs to see Judy, whose talent for a near perfect blow dry Vasken had only that day discovered. His wife had come into the salon and Judy had styled her hair so wonderfully that Vasken took notice.
“My wife is not easy,” he said. “She knows what she likes. She looked incredible.”
I felt confident I was in good hands, and sure enough, I was. I left with a blow out that I kept for two days – a rarity for me as I always find that the dreaded pillow musses up my style in the worst way. She used Kerastase Ciment Thermique on my damp hair, which she likened to spackle for your strands. She also used some Kerastase Volumactive Mousse to add some volume before drying. After the blow dry, which she masterfully conducted with twists and twirls of a small round fiber brush, she finished it off with a few sprays of Superfine Hairspray and Anti-humidity Spray, both from Oribe (a line whose delicious scent I will never tire of.)
What stood out for me about Vasken and mizu was that I left feeling that those who took care of me had 100 percent confidence in their craft and a complete appreciation and understanding of what was best for me.
Vasken wouldn’t reveal details about his next venture, but I have no doubt that should a Manhattan salon crop up with his name on the door, it would fast become a destination for women who are looking for more than just beautiful hair – but women who are looking for lasting style.