Field Trip: Star Hairstylist Paul Labrecque’s Gorge New Palm Beach Salon & Spa
When your FBP team heard that one of NYC’s top hair gurus was opening in Florida, we knew this was maje news. So last week, Yours Truly drove across the state to check out his gorgeous new digs at the recently renovated Royal Poinciana Plaza, a French-inspired oasis newly designed by John Volk and rivaling posh Bal Harbour. Think Assouline, Kirna Zabête, Hermès, Vespa, Honor Bar and the like.
En route to my chat with Paul scheduled Friday at 2pm, my 2006 Suburu Tribeca lost control. The culprit: palm rats, who had eaten wires and gnawed bands, causing my engine lights to flash like a pinball machine. But that's a whole other Florida problem, and, according to the repair guys, quite common. So I had to get towed, then rent a car. Alas, I wasn’t going to make it in time for our scheduled appointment, but hoped Paul would have a moment or two to chat during his grand opening soirée the following evening.
I high-tailed it over there early Saturday night with my PB-based cousin Natalie Marx, who I dub “the Icebreaker” as she can engagingly talk to anyone. This I discovered during what ended up as a lovely six-day extended stay while awaiting my car parts to arrive. Natalie's a Busy "Tory mom" (that's FBP-speak for all the cute, chic, Tory Burch-clad moms Dana and I encounter in our travels) to two lovely preteen girls, so I was super lucky to steal her away for the evening as her energy and enthusiasm inspire me.
Really, if she was an RHOPB, her intro might be “From investment banker to mommy and baker plus everything in between, I got this.” Stay tuned for FBP’s upcoming Natalie shelfie.
(Sidebar: "Real Housewives" addict Dana - who watches just about every franchise, including Beverly Hills, New York, London and Joisy - wants to know why there isn't already a RHOPB. Bravo: Chop chop!)
Natalie and I headed in to the fête, and the first thing I did was apologize to Paul for standing him up. He was gracious - I mean, after all, it was a total car breakdown. Given that he was the man of the hour with dozens of fans and friends, several of whom flew in from NYC to help celebrate, he introduced me to Colin, the salon’s charming manager, for a tour.
Paul is a high priest of hair and this 1600 square foot space is TDF: cathedral ceilings and large windows letting in abundant natural light plus shelf after shelf of Paul Labrecque signature products specifically selected for ahem - our Florida beauty problems - from frizz fighters, hair color retention (all of Paul’s eponymous hair products include sunscreen as a key ingredient), skin protectors, you name it. Gorgeous.
Other luxe lines include Crème de la Mer; Clé de Peau Beauté; Dr. Dennis Gross; Nest candles; Londontown Nail Care; Environ Skin Care, his preferred choice for facial and body treatments; and Miami-based Gee Beauty Makeup. (You’ll remember Celene Gee as one of FBP’s very first profiles.)
Toward the back of the salon, the two treatment rooms for massages and spa treatments are bookended by a two-chair nail nook and a foyer with four ergonomically-friendly sinks designed for the client’s comfort while she is shampooed and conditioned.
I stole Paul away for a few minutes later in the evening with some questions.
FBP: Why Palm Beach specifically? Were there NYC-based clients asking?
LABRECQUE: I graduated from beauty school in Miami and have always loved Florida. I’ve been spending more time in Palm Beach, occasionally seeing clients out of my home. As my partner Brian Cantor and I have become more involved with the local community, we’ve noticed a demand for high-end spa and salon services all year long, not just the busy season. We love Palm Beach and have a roster of so many New York City clients who have homes here and visit. I look forward to bringing the simple, sexy and sophisticated Paul Labrecque experience to everyone here.
FBP: How often are you here?
LABRECQUE: At least one week each month. For spring, March 20-24 and April 17-21.
FBP: Any treatments specific to the Florida salon for combating frizz, hair color oxidization, facial treatments tackling excess oil and the strong sun?
LABRECQUE: We offer the latest smoothing treatments and hair color from L’Oréal Professionel plus amazing anti-aging facials using Environ products.
FBP: How far in advance should our readers book?
LABRECQUE: As soon as someone anticipates their specific beauty need, they should call us. We look forward to pampering as many Palm Beachers as possible. Given our limited size, we do expect to be fully committed.
Since Friday was a missed mess on my end, I returned Tuesday to chat with several members of Paul’s star team for their deep knowledge addressing typical Florida Beauty Problems.
My first chat was with nail technician Vivi Tran who did a polish change, removing my peeling shellacked lacquer from weeks ago. I showed her my hot pink toes, and she suggested something lighter and more natural within the pink tone range. She loves Londontown's 9-free formulations plus its wide range of gorgeous saturated colors as it’s more healthy for both her clients and for herself. She insisted Londontown’s “Lakers” were long-lasting. I had my doubts, but six days later typing this up, returning to mundane household chores and a new snowbirding dog, my Waterloo Sunset nails still look impeccable. Not one single chip.
Next up: stylist Hector Miranda, a well-known hair pro among Miami and Palm Beach’s style setters. He shared his expertise on fighting frizz while protecting color with the salon’s signature five-week conditioning treatment.
The first part of Hector's treatment takes place in the salon, where a minty hair masque is applied to the scalp, then rinsed, followed by a nourishing lemongrass-infused oil, emulsified then slathered onto each strand. After sitting under a dryer for 20 minutes to let it sink in, a shampoo and indulgent scalp massage precede styling. At-home follow-up requires a pack of four concentrated take-home applications of RESTORE Hair and Scalp Therapy for once weekly use ($50).
Other luscious double-duty repair/color maintenance treatments include two fragrant moisturizing conditioning muds from the Dead Sea; for color treated hair, macadamia oil is added for strengthening the hair cuticle. I used the latter as a pre-shampoo masque, letting it work its magic while walking Paul Anka (my snow-birding house guest SharPei - not the singer). Express hair revitalizing treatments for busy gals, like my cousin Natalie, are also available.
Hector also gave me a genius tutorial on curling iron Dos and Don’ts, from heating to finish in five-minutes with fab results. In a nutshell, section 10 or so small pieces of hair around the head and wrap around the iron without opening it, three seconds per section, before moving onto the next. It’s an easy DIY for sexy beach waves and and you can watch a video about it here.
With hair like mine, I was dying to talk to Teresa Cavaliere, who stressed the importance of keratin treatments. She’s been a hair pro for 35 years in Florida and swears by Lasio Keratin, the exclusive water-based solution comprising human crystalized protein that’s better able to infiltrate hair. It doesn’t change the structure of the hair, and prevents polypeptide bond damage, ridding 98% of frizz for up to four months.
We also talked water types and why washing your hair too often will exacerbate every hair problem: in many Florida communities, water is heavily chlorinated resulting in faded, oxidized hair color — another reason perhaps to consider going lighter. That was an a-ha moment for me, and gave me a deeper appreciation for my brunette host's customized water filtration system throughout their home.
For an appointment at Paul Labrecque Palm Beach, call 561.402.8207