Pulse: Chatter: Hair Wars
Since the dawn of time, hair salons have been hotbeds of drama and gossip, but these days on the Main Line, it’s Sweeney Todd meets Zohan meets The Real Housewives of Orange County.
The bleach started flying a year and a half ago when onetime preeminent salon Raya Haig, a sleek Bala Cynwyd boîte co-owned by tress gurus Raya Yukhimov and Haig Khararjian, split up in a bitter implosion that ended with Haig staying in Bala and relaunching as Haig & Co., with popular stylist Alan Gold. Meanwhile, Raya and her darkly Russian husband Leonard Kadyshes, who managed Raya Haig, reincarnated as Raya Coiffure on Haverford Station Road. “You’re either Team Raya or Team Haig — clients’ friendships have broken up over this,” dishes one insider. Stylist Gold, when asked about Raya and Leonard, deems the two “not kosher,” adding a strangled noise that sounds like, “Uuurgghhh.” Gold then notes that he and Haig have redecorated and reinvigorated their City Avenue space with a gold-leafed lobby, maple hair stations and more flexible hours. As for Leonard, he’s kvelling about the convenience of his and Raya’s cozy new shop: “Everyone’s saying it’s only two minutes, three minutes from their houses.”
And then there’s the recently shuttered Aida Armani salon in Narberth (Armani, who landed at Wynnewood’s Millennium Day Spa, had her own acrimonious split with Raya and Haig in the late 1990s), and Radnor’s petite, now-defunct Chuck Thayer Salon. Thayer’s former space in the Radnor Hotel has been picked up by perky stylist Jay Michael, who also grabbed Thayer’s other old digs in Suburban Square two years ago. Michael explains that he’s got an edge over his competition because he’s a businessman and a stylist in the same efficient package: In an economy where we’ve been forced to skimp on necessities like Restylane, “People are putting things off, people might not get color every four weeks, they’ll stretch it to six weeks,” notes Michael, who says he’s surviving the downturn by cutting back on extras like shampoo girls. “And if you stretch that to 52 weeks a year times hundreds of dollars for each color and cut, that’s thousands of dollars a year lost.”
“I had a product rep in on Friday who looked around and said, ‘Wow, you’re busy.’ He was shocked,” says Maurice Tannenbaum of OMG in Gladwyne, who’s now spending a week out of each winter month in Palm Beach to service his “snowbirds,” as he calls them. Back home, the hair high jinks show no sign of slowing down, with backbiting — “I don’t see any customers in Raya’s salon,” notes one hairdresser who admits to cruising Haverford Station Road to check on his competition — and rumors of icky in-house dalliances. “I’ve heard stories about threesomes in the bathroom” of one high-end spot, says a customer. But perhaps all will end up as smooth as an OMG blowout. As Alan Gold puts it, “I don’t wish anybody ill; there’s a place for everybody,” then adds, with a little chuckle, “as long as it’s not here.”