When it comes to show-stopping hair, there’s a New York salon that countless stars and even members of the royal family have trusted for over two decades.
Having counted Beyoncé, Martha Stewart, Hilary Clinton, Reese Witherspoon, and Victoria Beckham as his clients over the years, John Barrett has been the go-to person for many celebrities, but perhaps his most famous client was the late Princess Diana, who owned Barrett. She styled her hair “several times” in the late 1990s.
“I was very nervous,” Page tells Six Style of the couple’s first meeting at the Carlyle Hotel in New York, but the stylist turned out to have nothing to worry about.
“I go to his suite and he’s immediately sitting in bed with my assistant, looking at pictures of my assistant’s kids,” she recalls. “Conversation was easy.”
When it comes to Diana’s hair, Barrett says she “has an element of confidence to do what she wants,” but “If I did something bad or wrong with someone like that, it would be visible to the whole world,” says Barrett.
“It was comfortable,” says Barrett, recalling their dynamic, sharing that the royal showed her playful side with him.
Barrett said the princess received “thousands of letters” and the court “picked about five of them and gave them to her, and that the princess could read and basically, they were crazy.”
“He was reading these letters and we were cracking up,” the hairstylist recalls. “There was one of the plastic surgeons… ‘I want to consult you,’ he said. We laughed at that.”
Diana died shortly after Barrett last saw her. “I felt she found happiness and comfort, and it was such a sadness that it wasn’t destined to last long,” she says.
She says that one of her most “extraordinary” moments while working with a celebrity, other than the princess, was with the particularly down-to-earth A-lister.
“About 100 years ago, I was working on a TV show and the call time was around 5:30 am or 6 am, which is not that unusual,” he recalls. “And Julia Roberts came in and said, ‘Can I get you some coffee?’ she said.
The sweet gesture surprised her, though the hair expert said she’d “never met anyone mean” when it came to stars.
“It wasn’t something I was familiar with, and I was just blown away.”
After 23 years in court at Bergdorf Goodman and creating her signature “Bergdorf Blonde” hair color, Barrett moved her salon down the street just before the pandemic.
“It was time,” he says, adding that the art-filled room with its high ceilings and huge windows is significantly different from its original space in the historic store.
“I wanted to build a space and have higher ceilings, have good air conditioning, and that was all very important,” says the beauty guru. “It was an old building in Bergdorf where I didn’t have those options.”
In addition to hair styling, Barrett’s salon offers a range of services such as nails, makeup, eyebrows and eyelashes.
“There are a lot of actors who come here for a service other than hair,” he says, and shares that he often sees Broadway stars or celebrities in New York shooting movies or TV shows.
While it’s not unusual to see a famous face in the living room, don’t expect to be sitting next to a pop star while you’re getting dressed.
“It’s causing chaos,” she admits, sharing that someone like Beyoncé went to a private room. “Not because he wants to, but people will look. Everyone has a natural curiosity.”
When asked who her ultimate client would be, Barrett immediately replied, “Kate [Middleton]. I don’t even have to think about it… It looks sensational.”
However, one of the princess’s latest outfits didn’t quite hit the celebrity stylist’s mark.
“The only fault I’ve seen so far with him is that he’s gone – I’ll be crucified for that – but he went to an event where he wore long black gloves. You look too much. I just didn’t know where they were coming from.”
As for the biggest mistake people see making with their hair, Barrett says it’s not “appreciating what you have and working with it.”
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For example, the stylist “sees much shorter boobs are back” for spring, but that doesn’t mean the look is for everyone.
“We don’t all have to look like Julia Roberts or Gisele,” says Barrett. “But everyone has something, and that’s finding something and then uncovering it.”