Before my recent experience at salon-cum-gift shop Commune International in Williamsburg, I would have flatly turned down any invitation to shop in the same place I get my hair cut. Most affordable salons in the City are hectic hair dryer wind tunnels scented with the distinct odor of burning hair; not the most browse-inducing atmosphere. But, thanks to Commune's focus on all natural ingredients the subtle smell of aromatherapy shampoo greets you at the door and leads you happily by the nose into the minimal yet homey space where store displays are decorated seasonally and overseen by art director Yoshiaki Takao.
While waiting for your stylist you can inspect the shop's gorgeously curated display of delicate, nature-inspired jewelry and homemade beauty products. Or, you can flip through a politely supplied current selection of fashion magazines (I think this was the first time a salon stocked magazines I actually wanted to read; Nylon and W, not Hair Trends) . When it's your turn to head to the whisper quiet salon in the back of the store, you sit for a brief consultation with your stylist followed by the most moan-inducing aromatherapy shampoo and head massage you have likely ever experienced. Just choose your scent and let the expert hair washer's hands make your eyes roll back in your head.
The cuts here are layered and flattering. The mostly Japanese staff who carefully snip your tresses with sharp shears are precise and thorough but quick. When you are finished, the $55 haircut will leave you with enough cash in your wallet to consider investing in one of their special jewelry pieces with natural touches: charms shaped like birds, stars, and twigs accompanied by semi-precious stones. They aren't cheap, but they certainly don't look it either.
I've endured my share of costly cuts in this big city, and I've mostly come away irritated and unimpressed. Commune left me delighted, relaxed, and needing to practice how to take a compliment. What more could a girl want?
All images: CommuneSalon.com