Thursday, July 31, 2014

Hair Heroes

Renowned stylist Christiaan (the guy who shocked everyone with an "undercut" on the fashion runway in the 1980s, and who famously flat-topped Grace Jones's fro) was at it again this June, administering 100 free haircuts in one afternoon in Madison Square Park.

Vogue's photographer Cass Bird was on the scene to record the event.

Her black-and-white images capture the quiet anticipation of each subject mid-transformation—sometimes with their hair falling before their eyes—and their elation and confidence after being “sculpted” by a master. Said Bird, “You could see what an incredible feeling it was. The actual experience of being touched by him is a big part of it."
"The actual experience of being touched..." That's a huge part of a haircut, isn't it? The intimacy and caring, the touch. It's not just about romance, as in the film scene in "Phenomenon," when Lace (Kyra Sedgwick) gives George (John Travolta) a haircut and shave. It's about plain old human connection. One person thoughtfully considering, engaging, transforming another via physical contact. It's my favorite part of a trip to the salon, the wash and scalp massage, followed by the stylist clipping and riffling his hands through my hair to lift and sculpt. In the end, I feel renewed.

Christiaan's free haircuts "happening" is wonderful and fun, but even more profound is the work of "Joe the Barber" in Hartford, Connecticut, who gives free haircuts to the homeless every Wednesday afternoon in the park. Well, not entirely free. For payment, he gets a big hug. That's a lot of love.