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April 19 2014

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A Cut Above the Rest

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The newly opened Marie Robinson Salon in the Flatiron District just might be the biggest thing to happen to the New York beauty community in recent memory. First, there’s its made-for-Hollywood back story, in which Robinson, Sally Hershberger’s star colorist for the past seven years, quit to start her own, eponymous atelier and much of Hershberger’s staff followed, causing a mass exodus. Then there’s the salon itself, an extraordinarily large 5,000-square-foot space on Fifth Avenue laid out by Manhattan based-designer James Huniford—the construction and opening of which seems perhaps more daunting even than the idea of defecting from the queen of the $800 haircut.

But the vibe at MRS doesn’t reflect any of this tension; quite the contrary. “It’s kind of like a clubhouse,” senior stylist Allison Woodruff explained as she tended to my lob and we chatted about our favorite Beach House tracks. Woodruff, like most of Robinson’s personnel, has come up through Manhattan’s salon system. The highly experienced and sought-after team includes alumni from Pierre Michel, Bumble & Bumble, Oscar Bondi, and Sally Hershberger, all of whom have been coiffing together for years, making them not only peers but friends. “I just tried to surround myself with the most talented staff out there—people I’ve known since I was 18, in some cases,” says Robinson, who has had Anne Hathaway, Rachel McAdams, Natalie Portman, Rachel Weisz, Liv Tyler, and Uma Thurman in her chair. “And it’s like, ‘I love your work…and I love you. Does it get any better?’ ” Yes, in fact; turns out it does. Celebrity stylists Danilo and Mark Townsend will also work from MRS when in New York.

The petite, platinum blonde Robinson, who says she’d never really had ambitions to go out on her own, had an epiphany a few years back and just realized that things could be “different.” She re-evaluated what she liked and disliked about the salon-going experience for both stylists and their guests and the “universe” made her new project a reality. Personal touches include two lounge/waiting areas, instead of one, so things stay calm “even if it gets crazy,” and a general sense of happy contentment that’s palpable when the elevator doors open. Full disclosure: I’ve never had a chatty relationship with my stylist before—it’s just not my thing—but Woodruff was so comfortable in her element that before I knew it, I had done the unthinkable and delved into boyfriend territory. Oh, and did I mention my hair looks amazing?

The Marie Robinson Salon, 155 Fifth Avenue, 4th floor, NYC, (212) 358-7780.

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