Gone are the days of Floyd the barber from the 1960s comedy “The Andy Griffith Show.” The men of Mayberry ended up at the shop behind the striped pole to argue and discuss town goings-on. Once in a while, they actually got their hair cut. Today’s barbers and stylists are sought after professionals who may own their own shops or who may wait just off the runway to attend to high-fashion models. They are well-trained and well-rounded; some cater to the best-known names of entertainment and politics and some are celebrities in their own right.
Of course, the names Vidal Sassoon and Paul Mitchell are familiar to most people. Their hair care products were on the shelves of nearly every salon in America. Kenneth Battelle was known simply by his first name and traveled with Marilyn Monroe as her personal hairdresser. Many hair stylists are responsible for the iconic “dos” of people like Lucille Ball’s red coif and the “bangs” worn by Claudette Colbert, who starred in movies in the 1930s through the 1950s. Today we have many outstanding celeb hair stylists. David Mallet owns a shop in Paris, France, and charges $315 for a haircut, a price his clients (including Nicolas Cage) gladly pay. They sometimes have to wait three weeks for an appointment. Serge Normant’s shop is in New York. He charges up to $600 for a haircut and can namedrop Julia Roberts and Sarah Jessica Parker among his clients. Emma Stone and Jennifer Lopez frequent the Beverly Hills shop of Tracy Cunningham. Her appointment price is $325.
Stuttering, backward Floyd would be astounded at the things students learn in today’s barber school. Beyond just how to hold the electric clippers, today’s barber students study esthetics and cosmetology in addition to barbering skills. They are prepared to work at photo shoots and movie locations. Schools like the Ron King Academy strive to give students confidence and help them reach their potentials. Only a handful of them will become “celebrity stylists” but they all can have the self-confidence and skill to own businesses and rise in the ranks of their profession. That is the main difference between Floyd, of Floyd’s Barber Shop in Mayberry and graduates of today’s barber colleges. Today’s graduates do more than give haircuts. They are professionals.
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