Here at Designer Previews we’re always on the hunt for the unexpected. Our latest discovery is the six-month-old O&M Salon on the far West side of Manhattan, three flights up, in an old brick industrial building, known to those in the know, as ‘the Brass Monkey” building. That’s because the bar of the same name, on the ground floor has been there for years. It’s fitting that this still ‘edgy’ section of the meat-packing district, in the shadow of the Standard Hotel, where sexy rooms can be had for $500 a night, is where this Australian based firm has chosen to set up shop: O&M is different; in the best possible way.
Let’s start with its look. Finally a reprieve from the overly lit, noisy places that feel like a disco. Sure, they have a few standard issue hair styling chairs in front of the mirror; but the real action takes place at a long wooden communal table, set near a wall of old windows, where natural light spills across the aged plank floors. (How could I have ever gone to salons with FAKE LIGHTING? ) Around this table is where the team of O&M stylists work. While they’re doing their thing on my head, I scroll on my Ipad, thanks to their free WiFi. Or I read from the great stack of hip mags piled on the table’s center. There are cool games and black and white movies projected onto the wall. They’ve even offered to fetch lunch for me.
The O&M (Original Mineral) brand launched in Australia about 10-years ago, and has a kind of cult following there. Even with the 450-salons there that use the product, it’s still somehow keeps its edgy following. Devotees are musicians, artists, models, all kinds of clients who want the next best thing in hair color technology and a relaxed setting too.
O&M is celebrated for their transparent approach in both their product ingredients and the physical environment. At this salon there is no “back room” where stylists slink off to, returning with a toxic bowl of ‘color’ in hand. They believe all color should be mixed in front of customers. And, take note: there are no bad smells. These are ammonia free hair products, and the goal in all product development has been to eliminate dangerous dyes and lethal chemicals. “We’ve gotten rid of PPD hair dye and other “old school” ingredients that are carcinogenic dying agents,” explains Janelle Chaplin, global creative director for the company, and a partner in the NYC salon, adding, “Just because we work in the fashion industry doesn’t mean we have to use products that kill us. We believe in CCT– clean color technology. We’re always looking for a smarter choice.”
The intention is to bridge the gap between natural and luxury, without having to look or act ‘green.’ Thus the relaxed environment which doesn’t evoke a health food store, as much as it does a living room loft, or a cool club. Even Julian Casablancas, lead singer of the band, The Strokes, (a client) like the chill vibe.
I agree: this gang is fun and easy. Let’s start with Jesse the front of the house guy who sweetly puts up with too many phone calls from me regarding my (often) late arrival. If you’re lucky you’ll be bestowed with a complimentary hand massage by the beauteous Stephanie Clark. William is my hair dude though. He does my color and he’s awesome. And his outfits are fun. Last time I was there he wore a sheer black shirt with cut off jeans and combat boots and looked like he’d just arrived from Seattle where, of course, he hails from! I’ve also had color done by Joseph Mullen, O&M’s technical director and color guru of the salon. He’s another kind of wizard with color. Don’t ask too many questions: He’s the quiet type.
Just go and trust.
NY, NY 10014