Thursday, September 22, 2011

Drybar, a West Coast Blow-Dry Chain, Opens in Manhattan: Trial Run

Drybar, a New York outpost is one of two slated for fall, offering $40 blowouts regardless of hair length.

The hair wars are heating up. Last Friday, Drybar — the West Coast-based blow-dry chain — opened at 4 West 16th Street in Manhattan, featuring chick flicks (subtitled so they can be enjoyed despite the din) and iPhone charging. It’s the first of two Manhattan outposts slated for fall (the other will be in Midtown), offering $40 blowouts — regardless of hair length. Since the price is set, “there’s no pressure,” Alli Webb, a Drybar founder, said at the press preview as she masterfully styled me.


Meanwhile, the prices at Blow, a popular blow-dry spot that opened in the meatpacking district in 2006, vary from $40 to $60 for a blowout, more if flat-iron work is included. On my first visit to the salon, which also offers cut, color and nail services, I was only informed at the end of a blowout by my stylist, Chrissy, that it would cost $50 (instead of upfront as is the norm, according to Jennifer Denton, a founder). I had told Chrissy I wanted a straightish style with some curl at the bottom and asked if that seemed like a good call with my long oval face, but she didn’t have an opinion.

At Drybar, my consultation was a conversation, helped by a book of options including the Cosmopolitan (loose curls on the bottom) and the Manhattan (sleek, straight). Mrs. Webb, who, granted, may have been trying harder because she knew I was a reporter, also gave me a side part that hid some grays, and paid attention to making my back layers stunning (see pic).

Outsourcing one’s blowout makes sense if the results beat your handiwork, and if it’s convenient. But the morning I visited Blow I had to wait 20 minutes, and my ho-hum blowout took 50, making me late to the office. Asked about the arrival of Drybar, Ms. Denton said, “I feel confident about our stylists and our expertise.” In the spirit of competition, she added: “They won’t be the first or the last. It’s a growing concept.”


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