Every so often there emerges a tiny, undiscovered side street in one of Manhattan’s many neighborhoods that takes New Yorkers by surprise. The street suddenly becomes the “it” place with the addition of a chic lounge or bistro here, a high-end boutique or spa there. Before you know it, everyone is flocking to said street, and suddenly it’s not so undiscovered anymore. This season, that street undoubtedly will be Centre Market Place, and much in part to the Pipino Nolita Salon.
Ric Pipino brought his Miami style to Nolita in May and since then word has been spreading about the ex-hubby to Heidi Klum, and not because of his former nuptials but because of his super-scissor work. The new NYC salon is like a little box of treasures, the most notable of which are the three Fendi chairs that look like carved-out black jewels. Design team Rawlins-Calderone worked with Ric to create the neo-classic décor, complete with the use of the Fendi chairs as well as some French 18th-century furniture reupholstered in black latex and floral prints and modern art – not to mention several books on everything from fashion to the history of erotica. The salon also features artistic baubles for sale such fine jewelry by Manon von Gerkan, home décor from Antony Todd and Felix Rey handbags.
While Ric’s cuts and the salon’s endearing interior are drawing crowds, the color phenomenon of the salon lies in the hands of Jean Marc Choffel. A native of France, Jean Marc and Ric worked together on the Miami hair scene for years. In Paris, Jean Marc worked couture fashion shows like Yoji Yahmamoto and Jean Paul Gaultier. He has also consulted for major companies like L’Oreal and Sebastian. His professionalism and experience are immediately recognizable when he starts to speak to you about your hair and the direction you should take it from both a color and cut standpoint. While his thick accent and authoritative handling of your hair may at first intimidate you – don’t let it. Once you settle into his chair, you’ll feel you’re in the hands of an expert who understands that his job is surely to make you feel comfortable, but more importantly to make you beautiful.
I wasn’t exactly sure what Jean Marc had decided to do with my hair color when he left to mix the product – as I mentioned, his accent is thick, and since I didn’t really have a preference, I sort of left it up to him and wondered what the outcome would be when he returned. My only request was to keep the overall feel light as I tend to feel better as a blonde. As much as I try to branch out, I always go back to the goldilocks. Back from the back, Jean Marc started by painting countless strips of a brownish-red color throughout my hair and letting that set for about 20 minutes. He then shampooed that color out and proceeded with highlights; a warm blonde that undeniably lightened my whole appearance, but in a different way than I was used to – a warmer, slightly wintery way. The final product was a reddish blonde that looks youthful, fun and still natural.
While my highlights were setting in, Jean Marc waiting in the sitting area on his MacBook, I asked Ric what all the commotion had been around the salon. (When I entered, there was lots of running about, rearranging, etc.) He told me that a photo shoot was to take place at the salon the following day for WWD to present his new product line, Revolution in Cut, which launched Jan. 15. Having worked on the line for a few years, Ric was very excited to finally see it launch. The concept behind the line was to create products that enhance a hair’s cut rather than texture. For instance, there are products designed for bobs and long layers, which work with that particular haircut to make it look its best, as opposed to products designed for “fine” or “coarse” hair. In other words, his goal is to provide you with a product that makes you look as good as the day you leave the salon – and without having to attempt replicating the pros’ ability to blow-out and style your hair to enviable perfection. The signature scent of Revolution in Cut’s products was derived from Ric’s memory of orange blossoms in his travels as a young child – it was important that scent was alluring and distinct but not overpowering. The products will be sold at CVS and Beauty 360 locations nationwide on a three-month exclusive contract, as well as on http://www.beauty360.com.
After my chat with Ric, Jean Marc re-emerged to was the second color process out and proceed with the cut and style portion of the visit. He cut my hair the same way he colored it: fast and determined. When Jean Marc is working with your hair, you never for a second feel that he might make a mistake – despite his almost haphazard color placements and scissor-swipes. Somehow you just know that the final product will be perfection…or at least the closest we slaves to beauty will get to it.
Originally published February 2010