Intimacy and transformation through the plastic shield: Regulation of ritual revisited in the (post) covid salon

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Published conference proceedingConference contribution


    In my previous work on Salon spaces and the hairdresser relationships I have explored key themes from various positions but we were in a very different world to the regulations facing us in the past year and going forward under Covid 19. In 2018 my co-curated exhibition Beehives, Bobs and Blow-dries examined this research.

    Back then we concluded the exhibition the then current concerns with the gender natural salon and the need for a sustainable industry. As we move forward to our next development for the touring exhibition, I have examined the current concerns in the industry and how this has impacted on the hair salon most significantly obviously is the impact of the Pandemic

    Many salons across the UK have already closed due to the impact of Covid19 - estimated figures suggest over 5,000 to date. But for those that remain and who have reopened (on and off over the past year) we see changes in the interior design style and aesthetic of the salon space and the way in which the hairdresser can engage with their client following the contact restrictions. Legislation was late in coming as salons reopened post 1st lockdown in the UK – much has been learnt on this journey and more is to come I am assured

    This paper will examine these changes and impacts and the re - evaluation of the significance of a good hair cut as many of us exist in an online world of Teams and zoom. Through research undertaken in specific salon spaces and through interviews with the hairdressers and their clients I have examined these changes
    I have also charted the way in which salons have continued to maintain their relationship with their customers through social media to offer support and reassurance. And some of the issues this has caused in the industry and with the public

    Unlike most fashion retail the hair industry came to a grinding holt under covid 19 there is no online retail space for hair ( unless you want to wear a wig or a hair piece ) . The very bespoke nature of this engagement which had so fascinated my research was now in a state of flux and moving forward this relationship was forced to change .

    The design of both hair salon spaces and interactions have had to change under the new government guidelines the regulations and safety features necessary for a reopening of Hair Salons and safe working with clients with physical contact.
    I will explore how these forced adaptations have changed the design expectations of salons and the customer /client experience and the interaction with stylist and client

    The wearing of masks and PPE created a barrier between client and hairdresser – the very wearing of such objects also created difficulty for the hairdressers and stylists – reflections and distortions a new reality. Communication and facial engagement through the mirror more difficult – The very working on the head / body became more fragmented with clients covered with masks. the intimate becomes more disjointed stilted and fragmented

    The move of many city workers to a working from home norm is also changing were people have their hair done. Many city salons are suffering as clients move to their local salon and escape to the country.

    Wider areas to touch upon - The plastic became the necessity we all needed a barrier to covid19 transmission with salon design adapting both in aesthetic terms dividers layout. How will alternative materials play a part in this new salon design – to allow for more sustainable futures
    and how has our interests in mind and body affected our engagement with our hair and the chemicals we are applying to it.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationFashion Tales 2020+1
    Subtitle of host publicationPolitics through the wardrobes
    Publication statusPublished - 17 Jun 2021


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