December 7, 2023

John Barrett, a hair dresser whose relaxed wit, scissor-sharp type and lengthy line of A-list shoppers put him actually on high of the luxurious style world, with a salon spanning the penthouse stage of the Bergdorf Goodman division retailer, died on Wednesday in Manhattan. He was 66.

The demise, at NYU Langone hospital, was confirmed by Jeffrey Vendor, an in depth pal, who stated the trigger was problems of blood most cancers.

New York has no scarcity of locations the place shoppers can spend $200 or extra on a snip and a blow dry. However for greater than 20 years — from when Mr. Barrett opened at Bergdorf in 1996 to 2019, when he left to open his personal salon — his aerie overlooking Central Park was the vacation spot of alternative for the trendy elite, whether or not they walked over from Park Avenue or flew in from Miami, Los Angeles or London.

He did hair for attendees of the annual Met Gala, the main women of the British stage and all three feminine leads within the TV present “Pals.” Princess Diana, Ethel Kennedy and Hillary Clinton had been regulars. He was the unofficial stylist for the employees of Vogue journal; as a welcome present, the editors would purchase new hires a makeover at Mr. Barrett’s salon.

Mr. Barrett was at his peak within the mid-2000s, when the power-blonde look cultivated by the uptown salons helped outline Higher East Facet style.

“Madison Avenue and Fifth Avenue had been simply lined with these energy salons from probably the most main hair styling stars on this planet,” Sarah Brown, a former editor at Vogue who’s now an government director on the magnificence retailer Violet Gray, stated in a cellphone interview. “And John Barrett was on the high of the heap.”

A go to to Mr. Barrett’s salon was greater than only a hair appointment. He was among the many first stylists to supply a one-stop magnificence store, with manicures, pedicures and make-up companies, and all of them had been the very best on the town.

What is perhaps a go to of an hour, tops, at one other salon might stretch right into a half day at Mr. Barrett’s, which, with its relaxed environment and foamy cappuccinos, might at occasions really feel extra like a intellectual social gathering than a magnificence parlor.

“While you had been there, you felt such as you’ve been on trip,” Julianne Jaffe, an in depth pal a longtime common, stated in a cellphone interview.

Pals had been made, gossip was traded, interviews had been carried out. You may end up seated between the columnist Peggy Noonan and the homemaking skilled Martha Stewart, although just a few delicate regulars, like Mrs. Clinton, may go for the semi-privacy of wheel-mounted screens.

Plum Sykes, a author, recalled being despatched to his salon on task quickly after arriving in New York from Britain to work at Vogue.

“It was there that I realized about all of the sorts of ins and outs of being New York excellent,” she stated in an interview, a glance that she later memorialized within the title of her 2004 novel “Bergdorf Blondes.”

Although his identify was gold among the many metropolis’s trendy elite, Mr. Barrett eschewed what he thought of the domineering, ego-driven salon tradition of the Nineteen Eighties and ’90s, and although he had agency opinions about type, he provided a laid-back, even minimalist method to hair chopping.

“If something, individuals suppose I haven’t modified them sufficient,” he informed The Unbiased in 1998. “However I may give them the very best lower on this planet and it’ll last more than the one they’d.”

John Francis Barrett was born on Jan. 10, 1957, in Limerick, Eire, the son of John Barrett, a laborer, and Philomena (Maroney) Barrett, a homemaker.

He was one in all 10 siblings rising up in determined poverty, and when he was about 13 he moved to London to search out work. For the primary few years he scraped by promoting souvenirs from a stall alongside Oxford Road, a significant industrial thoroughfare.

“After I was 14, 1 didn’t know the place I used to be going to sleep at night time,” he informed The Irish Occasions in 2002. “It was absolute luck that I didn’t become involved in a prison life.”

He discovered his calling after answering a need advert for an assistant at Michaeljohn, a comparatively new salon whose regulars already included Mick Jagger and Liza Minnelli.

By the mid-Seventies he was a full-fledged stylist. As he appreciated to inform the story, sooner or later Elizabeth Taylor got here by with out an appointment, asking for one more stylist, additionally named John. He wasn’t there, however John Barrett was. She stated he would do, and was so pleased with the outcomes that she made him her common hair dresser.

He moved to Los Angeles for a number of years within the Nineteen Eighties, then again to London for a interval earlier than settling in New York within the early Nineteen Nineties.

Mr. Barrett struggled with alcoholism within the Nineteen Eighties and have become sober in 1987, an expertise he was fairly open about. He organized charity salon occasions to boost cash and consciousness for sobriety, and he personally endorsed dozens of individuals, together with boldface celebrities, by means of their very own alcoholism.

In New York he discovered a job with Frédéric Fekkai, one other movie star hair dresser. In a narrative he related to Trend Week Each day in 2019, sooner or later a lady got here in and requested if he might comb out her hair for a celebration.

“,” he stated, “I don’t suppose it’s fairly proper. I would like to chop it.”

She stated she didn’t have time, however he insisted — it could solely take two minutes.

The following day she got here again.

“I don’t know what you probably did,” she informed him, “but it surely’s what persons are speaking about.”

The lady was Dawn Mello, the president of Bergdorf Goodman. The shop was searching for a hair dresser to arrange store in its penthouse, a former residence of Andrew Goodman, one in all its founders. Ms. Mello had provided it to Mr. Fekkai, however he had too many obligations. Mr. Barrett obtained the house as a substitute.

Although his base skewed typical and older, he might additionally seize onto traits, and even begin them. When ponytails and braids appeared like they had been about to have a second, he opened a “ponytail bar” and a “braid bar,” providing his personal twists on the kinds.

He traveled across the nation to make home visits for a few of his highest-end shoppers, and between 2014 and 2016 had a satellite tv for pc salon in Palm Seashore, Fla.

Mr. Barrett is survived by his brothers Gerry, Pat, Michael, Eddie and Joe, and his sister, Kathleen Dillane. Two brothers, Jimmy and Christopher, and a sister, Peggy Tierney, died.

After greater than twenty years with Bergdorf, he left in 2019 to open his personal, 6,400-square-foot salon close by, on East 57th Road between Madison and Park Avenues. He stuffed it with books and artwork from his personal assortment, and lightweight fare from Bouchon Bakery.

The pandemic hit the salon business particularly arduous, and Mr. Barrett was compelled to declare chapter. However he emerged shortly, with out having laid off his staff.

And, regardless of well being points, he continued to chop hair for the various shoppers, wealthy and well-known — or simply wealthy — who got here by means of his doorways.

Someday in April, Ms. Stewart, disillusioned after her flight to Britain was canceled, determined to drop by his salon for a pick-me-up, an expertise she later gushed about on social media.

“I used the newly discovered time to get a manicure pedicure by Luda and a haircut by the maestro himself @johnbarrettnyc,” she wrote on Instagram. “The brand new do is refreshing and wonderful! Thanks John!!!”

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