Friday, February 9, 2024

The Bergdorf blonde is now taking meetings at the Regency Hotel.

Parvin Klein, the veteran colorist who perfected an iconic shade of blonde, has painted her last highlight at the Bergdorf Goodman department store salon.

Though the salon space changed hands at least four times during Ms. Klein’s 36 years of employment — Sergio Valente, Frédéric Fekkai and John Barrett all launched eponymous salons there — the closing this summer marked the first time the space has remained vacant. Owned by Neiman Marcus, the store has not yet announced a fate for the sprawling ninth floor. But the future of Ms. Klein has a happy ending, moving operations to Julien Farel’s salon at the Regency, a few blocks away from Bergdorf.

Ms. Klein, who moved to New York at age 34 in the wake of the Iranian Revolution, had no experience when she enrolled in cosmetology school. She finished a two-year program in less than eight months and landed a job at the salon located in Bergdorf Goodman, then operated by Mr. Valente. She worked her way up, starting as an assistant to become the salon’s director of color. Though the name of the salon changed over the years, Ms. Klein, and her eye for color, remained a constant.

“Color is like an art,” Ms. Klein said. “It’s not just something you just paint. You have to have love and passion, and your brush, how you’re moving your brush, and how you’re moving your comb, how you look at the hair.”

Ms. Klein made Paris Hilton even blonder, turned her sister, Nicky, into a brunette and did Sarah Jessica Parker’s highlights during the height of “Sex and the City.” Her work for Hillary Clinton made headlines during the 2016 presidential campaign, when Page Six reporters began staking out her appointments. And despite the scrutiny, Mrs. Clinton has remained a loyal client.

“My hair has gotten a lot of attention over the years — from headbands to hairstyles to color choice,” Mrs. Clinton said. “I’ve been happily seeing Parvin for the last decade. She is a master, and her professionalism and commitment to her clients is unmatched.”

Martha Stewart has been seeing Ms. Klein for more than 34 years. “Parvin is an artist with hair color,” Ms. Stewart said.

The catchall term, Bergdorf blonde was defined in The New York Times review for Plum Sykes’s best-selling novel, “Bergdorf Blondes,” as a specific shade that “can’t be yellow, it has to be very white, like Carolyn Bessette Kennedy’s was. She’s the icon, the hair to worship. It’s beyond expensive.”

The actual chemistry of the color, Ms. Klein said, can’t be listed out like a recipe.

“Everyone’s hair is very specific and there isn’t one formulation for everyone. I sit the client in my chair and determine what’s best for them by examining what will work best for them, based on skin tone, eye color, their general style and appearance,” she said.

In 2019, when Mr. Barrett moved his operations to a new salon, the lease of the space at Bergdorf was taken over by Carol Nappi, the wife of Alliance Energy founder Sam Nappi, and relaunched as Salon Yoshiko. Ms. Nappi decided to close the New York location (another remains open in Palm Beach), and plans for the space are currently still in development, according to a spokesperson from Bergdorf.

Ms. Klein found out about the end of her career at Bergdorf from a news release. “I’d prefer not to talk about why Yoshiko didn’t work, out of respect to them,” she said.

It turns out the Bergdorf blonde has just traded her Central Park views for Park Avenue.

Ms. Klein, along with about 40 of her staff from Salon Yoshiko, joined Julien Farel’s New York City salon, which is in the Regency. More than 450 customers made appointments on the first day, according to Mr. Farel.

Mr. Farel, who worked with Ms. Klein at Bergdorf in the ’90s, believes the merger was fated. It was set in motion in February, when a pipe in his salon burst and flooded the first floor, requiring renovations. He was ready to start in April, when he heard the Bergdorf salon might be closing.

“I text Parvin and I say, ‘I heard the news, are you OK?’ And she said, ‘I can’t talk. I am in shock.’ And I said, ‘Listen, anything you need, just let me know,’” Mr. Farel said. “So we started talking and she called me back a couple of days later and she said, ‘Well if I’m coming, I’m not coming alone.’”

While Ms. Klein’s signature color will remain the same, Mr. Farel says it’s being rebranded as the “Power Blonde,” a reference to the power breakfasts for which the Regency is known.

As for Ms. Klein, she said she never intended to become a celebrity colorist.

“I’m not looking for big names at my salon, I’m looking at people just the same. If Martha comes it’s the same, if Hillary comes, it’s the same,” she said. “For me, it doesn’t matter who you are.”

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