Four years ago, one of the world’s most famous faces in hair passed away and left a legacy behind him that is a strong today as it was when he was magically working his scissors on Madison Avenue. John Sahag and his NYC salon, the John Sahag Workshop, have left a mark on the hair industry unlike any other. In his life, Sahag was known not just as a rocking hair stylist, but a rock star himself. Women as royally fashionable as Diane Von Furstenberg have validated his genius; the short cut he gave Demi Moore for Ghost became its own fashion statement. There are few popular hair trends today that can’t be somehow linked to his hands.
The late John Sahag created a one-of-a-kind and continuously-successful hair oasis on Madison Avenue
With such a storied impact on the beauty and hair worlds, BN wanted to check in with the Workshop and see how his history is being perpetuated and what about him made the salon such an NYC staple. Fortunately, Sahag would be happy to find that some of the most talented hair cutters in the city continue to execute with perfection the “dry cut” he made so famous. While it’s oft been imitated, the dry cut was something that Sahag originated in the late 70s after experimenting with different ways to shape hair. He found that when it was dry, he could follow its natural form and carve and structure the hair as an architect does with a building. Sahag thought that the traditional “wet cut” was boring, unimaginative and less like art than what he knew he was capable of. Thus, he found a way to craft a style that looked like it had “grown out of the head,” giving birth to the Sahag Dry Cut Technique. That method is what he taught his stylists – not just to dry cut hair, but to treat it like a work of art, a sculpture that should be shaped, manipulated, formed and reformed.
Not every hair stylist is cut out for (pun alert) such an ambitiously artistic way of cutting hair, but Sahag found a good handful who were. One of those was Karmela Lozina, a senior stylist who has worked at Sahag for the past 14 years and couldn’t be happier with her job. When we were told Karmela would be cutting our hair, we had no idea we’d be in the hands of such a seasoned pro, and such an interesting character to boot.
Karmela is not your average hair stylist. She doesn’t put on airs nor does she try to impress you with her mastery and knowledge of hair. Instead, she talked to us about the guy she’d hooked up with the night before, where her favorite Manhattan clubs were, why she loves New York, and of course, why our hair needed a pick-me-up. She’s real and she’s fun – a refreshing find in a city that sometimes feels overrun with the opposite.
Karmela explained to us a little about the Sahag dry cutting technique as she blew out and straightened our already-dry hair. Sahag felt that getting it into a sort of “neutral” form before cutting would give the stylist the best ability to see where the hair was coming from and where it would be going. She repeated his mantra; “I’m going to give you a haircut that looks like it grew out of your head.”
Knowing that we didn’t want too many inches taken off, she cut in and out of the hair to give us definition and body without drastically changing the length. An entirely new style began to form before our eyes in the mirror and we were able to see the actual look of the cut as opposed to staring at a dripping mop reflection and attempting to imagine it.
When we were through with what seemed like a five-minute process because Karmela kept us so entertained, we went over to the color station where lead colorist Doug Macintosh pumped up our blonde highlights that were in desperate need of some hue revitalization.
Of course the color process forced us to go under the sink, but once we were again dry, we were able to see the dry cut really put it’s best foot…err…strand forward. In the days after leaving the Workshop, having had the chance to really play around with the cut, we realized just why the legendary Sahag became such an industry icon and wondered why it took us so long to prove it to ourselves with a visit.