“Fifty dollars for a ponytail? I could just buy a new head of hair for that kind of money.”
It’d be an understatement to say I doubted the premise of a salon that specialized in the esteemed art of gathering hair in a rubber band. Didn’t we already master that skill in middle school? What, are hair bands suddenly expensive? And what’s next, the headband salon?
The John Barrett Salon at Bergdorf Goodman in New York City — which introduced us last year to the “braid bar” — just opened a “ponytail bar” this month. The salon offers clients a wide array of fancy hairdos, everything from high to low to sideswept to Brigitte Bardot-inspired styles for a flat fee of $50. No washing or cutting. Just straight-up ponys. That’s it, folks.
“[The ponytail] is such a classic style, we've been seeing everyone wear them on the red carpet and fashion runways,” John Barrett, owner of John Barrett Salon, told TODAY.com. “It was a no brainer to offer ponytails to our clients.”
But is it worth the cost?
We here at TODAY.com decided to investigate.
Armed with my unwashed, angel hair pasta-thin hair, I set out to try out (and debunk) the buzzed-about services. As soon as I sat down, I was presented with a menu of over 30 celebrity-inspired hairdos, ranging from Gwyneth Paltrow to Blake Lively, who, as my stylist informed me, possesses the most requested style at the establishment.
I settled on Miranda Kerr’s retro, effortlessly sexy ponytail. Girl has a Victoria’s Secret contract, cute baby, and gets to cuddle with Orlando Bloom. (“I’ll have whatever she’s having.”)
A few spritzes, some bobby pins here and there, two tight bands and voila! Within just 10 minutes, I was sporting a full and elegant Oscar-worthy hairstyle. To me, this was one of the more appealing aspects: I wasn’t forced to spend an hour getting my hair done and stressing over what topic to next discuss with a hairstylist. I was in, out and ready to pretend I was the long lost member of The Supremes.
But others, however, think $50 is too much to spend a suds-free service. A few of my friends nodded in disbelief, lamenting “you didn’t even get your hair washed.” But I’m a big girl. I know how to wash my hair! I can do that easily at home. But I can’t make my hair do gravity-defying gymnastics. For that, I’d easily pay. And hey, if you went to a normal salon and asked for an updo, they’d likely charge in the same range.
“To critics, I say this isn't ‘just a ponytail’”, Barrett said in defense of his salon’s on-the-go services. “It's a marriage of couture and education — each ponytail is fashioned to the client, and although it looks simple, it demands a certain skill. It's not a ponytail you're going to wear to the gym or grocery store — we know you can do that yourself. This is a ponytail for a night out, a special event, a big business meeting - something where you want to wow.”
After wearing my ponytail out and about — and having numerous friends and strangers comment on how awesome it looked (“you look like you actually have hair!”) — I’m afraid I agree: A good ponytail does take a certain skill, and one that I’m willing to pay for. And, it seems, so will others.
"The response has been amazing," Barrett said. "We have been getting a lot of appointments in such a quick amount of time since our launch."
What do you think? Would you ever pay $50 for a ponytail? (And do you think mine is a mild case of Stockholm syndrome?)
Rina Raphael is a TODAY editor hoping for buns to become the new ponytail, which were the new braids, which were the new bangs. (Anyone else exhausted keeping up?)
© 2012 MSNBC Interactive. Reprints