The humidity-soaked days served up this summer invoked one undeniable sentiment for yours truly: I have a barometer on my head, and its effect is not cute. It’s not cute at all.
By September, the tale of Me Versus the Big Frizz was a woefully tired one. The shellac-and-pull-back being seemingly my only option, I daydreamed about easing my elbow grease-laden burden (and ballooning hairspray budget), peering haplessly into barbershop windows, wistfully eyeballing the electric razors perched upon their counters.
The solution of V for Vendetta-ing my locks seemed imminent. Luckily – on the cusp of fall, before I succumbed to frustration and began blueprinting my bone structure to calculate the perfect buzz cut silhouette – Kelsy Osterman at Cutler Salon stepped in.
The brainchild of Rodney Cutler (one of only three existing Redken global artists), Cutler Salon’s coiffeurs aspire to embody its slogan in every color treatment, strand shape and product application – by “bringing runway to reality.”
One would think that such a mantra, paired with its founder’s formidable credentials, would usher a hoity-toity atmosphere rife with unapproachable, snobbish stylists.
Not so, as I quickly discovered.
One floor above the bustling intersection of 57th Street and Sixth Avenue (a dangerously enticing stone’s throw from Bergdorf Goodman and the various posh shops of Fifth Avenue’s midtown stretch), Cutler is an airy, modern space alternating walls full of windows with blue-hued blocked dividers and cut and color “pods” interspersed throughout. The scene manages to be impressive without sacrificing warmth. After checking in with reception, I was accompanied to the back of the salon, given a robe and ushered into a changing room. Before I could make my way back to the comfy-looking haven of the waiting area’s leather benches, Kelsy greeted me.
I was immediately endeared to her – her overwhelmingly approachable, communicative, sweet demeanor was accessorized by her short, 50’s-style platinum ‘do, crimson lips and halter dress (which dipped just enough in the back to reveal the top of an intricate shoulder tattoo). After five minutes of chitchat, it was clear to me that Kelsy would infuse my tired tresses with fun.
And she wasn’t just concerned with pushing her own limits as a stylist when it came to sculpting my ‘do – she took her time on the consultation (a step I’ve found to be severely lacking at most salons). It was important for her to understand my daily regimen and my individual style. Kelsy was even concerned with what type of curls I preferred (for those of you with stick-straight tresses – trust me, this is an important question). She opted to give my almost-shoulder-length hair a modern spin, shying away from the tired angled bob and allowing it more dimension and movement by pairing layers and alternating lengths around the neck.
Kelsy also impressed me by knowing that my medium-curly hair should be cut dry (as curls tend to change shape when wet, and most scissor-wielders overcompensate as a result). While she worked, we discussed her styling experience – seven years working at Aveda in Minneapolis, to be exact – and the fact that the exact day of my appointment marked her one-year anniversary with Cutler. She told me that Rodney’s reputation is what brought her to New York City, and that his mission is simple: to be the go-to salon for the fashion industry and NYC women alike.
The stylists at Cutler are associated with all the city’s modeling agencies, and every stylist works runway and editorial jobs, which keeps their skill sets on-trend. Cutler Salon was involved with 48 New York Fashion Week shows this past season alone, and Kelsy worked on 15 of them. “Yeah, there were a lot of 4:00 a.m. mornings,” she laughed. “But the experience was totally worth it.”
Betsey Johnson’s show was Kelsy’s favorite gig this season – she described the backstage area as being filled with bright balloons and candles, and said that Betsey was a carefree, fun personality who threw rose petals over the models heads for good luck. “It was a true party,” she laughed. Betsey’s aesthetic this season included super-distorted textures and fluorescent binders in the models’ hair, but the ultimate style was up to each individual hairdresser – an opportunity that Kelsy said most stylists don’t get during Fashion Week.
Surely all of these high-profile opportunities (ask about her private appointment with Courtney Love) influence and challenge Kelsy’s aesthetic, so her stories made me ever the more confident in her abilities.
After my dry cut, I was treated with Redken’s Color Extend Shampoo and Body Full Conditioner – a combination that moisturized my locks without weighing them down. Kelsy finger-combed my hair while blow-drying it, twisting individual sections to create a loosely-curled look, and then finished the entire look with a big-barreled curling iron.
The result? A surprisingly light, dimensional silhouette that made me want to frolic down Fifth Avenue like an ornery extra in a hair color commercial.
But don’t take my word for it. My good friend (who happens to be a fashion photographer) squinted at me slyly over our shared sushi dinner the next evening and said, “What have you been doing with your hair? It’s sexy. I like it. Keep it up.”
She didn’t have to tell me twice!
47 W 57th St.
New York, NY