Salon and On: Charles Ifergan on Oak Street.

The carousel of love.
The carousel of love.

I love my salon.

Finding a home for your hair is no small task in the big city. Salons grow like weeds in every neighborhood from Cicero to the lake and stylists pour like water out of so many beauty school faucets. (Note to self: check and see if “beauty school” is derogatory.)

But two years ago, I found my spot. It is Charles Ifergan on Oak St. and it is a magical place. If you don’t live in Chicago, you likely won’t know that Oak St. is one of our poshest roads. There’s a Lanvin store there, if that tells you anything, and if you need to be told something else, there’s a Harry Winston, too. (Note to self: check and see if anyone’s ever coined the euphemism, “a Harry Winston.”)

But my salon, while not a bargain, isn’t outrageously expensive simply because it’s near a shop that (successfully) sells purses for $35,000. In New York or L.A., this proximity would automatically mean that your hair — just a trim! — would be upwards of $400 bones. But this is Chicago. You can’t charge $400 for a haircut. You can try, but most people will laugh at you and then you will go out of business. We eat bratwurst here. So Charles Ifergan is competitive but not gouge-y, so I can give them a sane amount of money and feel very, very fancy without going bankrupt, which is where I would go if I gave my money to nearly any other place of business on Oak.

The elevator up to the fourth floor is entered into from the actual street, first of all, and that’s just rad. The first time I had an appointment, I got in and the doors shut and I was whisked up in that elevator; okay, it actually heaved me up — not a new elevator. It’s okay, because when the doors opened to the salon, it was love at first sight/smell.

The noise of dozens of hairdryers, at least a dozen stylists, and the chatter of every client in the place nodding heads full of highlight foil created a marvelous clatter and whir. Someone was calling to someone else and a handsome woman was tapping a foot with a high heel at the reception desk. The smell was intoxicating: chemicals, botanicals, mists of Avalon and sprays like waves on a beach. The layout of the salon is circular, which makes it feel like more of a beehive than it already is.

George does my color. I think he’s Greek? He has a lovely accent. I found him — and the salon — because a “Best of Chicago” report in Elle magazine called him out by name. I said, “Well, I like the best, so… To George!” And the mention was well-bestowed: my haircolor has never been more lovely and George, I think, truly sees me as one of his clients now. You do have to prove yourself, you know. It’s still the big city.

Phoenix cuts my hair and does my blowouts. He is an adorable creature. He’s hella smart, too, and friendly, and we cackle and commiserate while he works his own magic.

This is not a post that I was paid to write. It’s just that I’m composing this at Charles Ifergan at this very moment, getting my roots done and then seeing Phoenix for a cut and style. I have a good weekend planned and one must always be prepared.

Hats off, Mr. Ifergan…because you’re worth it! And I will accept a coupon, but no biggie.