Gone but Never Forgotten: Legendary Hairstylist John Barrett’s Iconic Legacy and Star-Studded Clientele!

Renowned Hair Stylist John Barrett Passes Away at 66. The Visionary Behind A-List Hairdos, Catering to Icons from Princess Diana to Martha Stewart

John Barrett, the brilliant hairstylist known for his effortless blend of humor, precise cutting techniques, and an enviable list of celebrity clients, has sadly left us at the age of 66. His passing, confirmed by his close friend Jeffrey Seller, was a result of complications arising from blood cancer. He took his final breath at NYU Langone Hospital in Manhattan.

In a city filled with options where clients willingly spent $200 or more for a haircut and blow-dry, John Barrett’s exclusive salon, perched within Bergdorf Goodman, stood as a haven for over two decades. From his beginnings at Bergdorf in 1996 until his venture to establish his own salon in 2019, his elegant salon overlooking Central Park attracted the crème de la crème of the fashion world. Regardless of whether they hailed from Park Avenue or jet-setted in from Miami, Los Angeles, or London, Barrett’s unparalleled skill was sought after.

His client roster spanned from attendees of the prestigious Met Gala to leading British actresses and even the three female stars of the iconic TV show “Friends.” Among his regulars were luminaries such as Princess Diana, Ethel Kennedy, and Hillary Clinton. In an unofficial capacity, he was the stylist of choice for the staff at Vogue magazine; new hires were treated to a transformative makeover at Barrett’s salon.

Mr. Barrett reached the zenith of his career during the mid-2000s when the trend of power-blonde hairstyles, popularized by upscale salons, became synonymous with Upper East Side fashion.

Sarah Brown, a former editor at Vogue who now holds the position of executive director at Violet Grey, reminisced, “Madison Avenue and Fifth Avenue were adorned with power salons run by hair styling titans, and John Barrett reigned supreme.”

A visit to Barrett’s salon was not just an appointment, but an immersive beauty experience. In addition to top-notch hair care, he pioneered the concept of offering manicures, pedicures, and makeup services all under one roof.

What could have been an hour-long visit at any other salon often turned into a half-day indulgence at Barrett’s establishment. The relaxed ambience, coupled with expertly brewed cappuccinos, sometimes made it feel more like a high-society social gathering than a conventional beauty parlor.

Julianne Jaffe, a close friend and long-term client, described the experience as akin to a vacation, where friendships were nurtured, stories exchanged, and interviews conducted. The seating arrangement might have placed a columnist like Peggy Noonan next to homemaking expert Martha Stewart. For those desiring a touch of privacy, like Hillary Clinton, moveable screens were an option.

However, Mr. Barrett’s influence extended beyond hair styling – his salon was an educational hub for newcomers, teaching them the subtleties of achieving the coveted “New York perfect” look, a theme humorously captured in Plum Sykes’ 2004 novel “Bergdorf Blondes.”

Despite being an illustrious name in the world of high fashion, Barrett distanced himself from the ego-driven salon culture prevalent during the 1980s and ’90s. While he possessed strong opinions about style, his approach to hair cutting was known for its relaxed and minimalist ethos.

Born on January 10, 1957, in Limerick, Ireland, John Francis Barrett grew up as one of ten siblings. At the age of about 13, he set out for London in search of employment, initially peddling souvenirs along the bustling Oxford Street. His trajectory took an upward turn when he responded to an assistant position at Michaeljohn, a salon frequented by the likes of Mick Jagger and Liza Minnelli.

By the mid-1970s, he had earned the status of a full-fledged stylist. An unexpected encounter with Elizabeth Taylor solidified his reputation when he filled in for another stylist named John. His exceptional work delighted her so much that he became her regular hairstylist.

After a sojourn in Los Angeles during the 1980s and a period in London, Barrett eventually settled in New York during the early 1990s.

While boasting an impressive career, Barrett also battled alcoholism during the 1980s and ultimately achieved sobriety in 1987. He channeled his experiences into organizing charity events and provided personal guidance to numerous individuals, including celebrities, on their journeys to sobriety.

Even in the face of the pandemic’s impact on the salon industry and his own health struggles, Barrett remained dedicated to his diverse clientele – from the affluent to the acclaimed – who frequented his establishment.

In April, Martha Stewart herself sought comfort and rejuvenation at Barrett’s salon after her flight to Britain was canceled. She later shared her heartwarming experience on social media.

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