GRAND SALON WORKS THEIR UNIQUE BRAND OF MAGIC WITH LOCAL ARCHITECTS AND DESIGNERS FOR THIS YEAR’S PRET-A-PORTER. GET READY FOR ABSTRACT COUTURE HAIRSTYLES UNLIKE ANY YOU’VE SEEN BEFORE.
WORDS: Charlie Keaton| IMAGES: Maxwell Cutri
One of the advantages of being a design lover is that while no two mediums are the same, they frequently come together in exciting, unexpected ways. Take sculptural millwork, for instance. Or the blurring of lines between photography, graphic design, and fine art. Or the glamorous merging of architects, hair stylists, materials manufacturers, interior designers, and high fashion.
On May 12, the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) hosts the latest incarnation of its Pret-A-Porter fashion show. The event pairs five-person teams from local design firms with product manufacturers and runway models to create couture (and often abstract) ensembles for a one-night-only fashion show. Pulling so many disparate skill sets into a single project leads to inspired, offbeat choices. Each year’s designs are more inventive than the last.
And that means hair, too. This year’s Pret-A-Porter salon partner is LoHi-based Grand Salon, owned and operated by Shelly Rewinkle. Preparation takes months as each team shapes and tweaks its overall vision, producing concepts and imagery that vary widely. On the day of the event, Grand Salon runs a gauntlet of controlled chaos, as one model after another shuffles through the doors for a seat with their team’s designated stylists.
“With a typical runway show, we’ve got a look and an intention in mind, and if we need to jump ship halfway through we have complete autonomy to do that,” said Rewinkle. “But with this, we have to recreate either a drawing or a creative image that these architects and designers have come up with. It’s fun to manipulate and master something they designed, but it’s definitely a challenge.”
Immersion in the design world is nothing new for Rewinkle, who opened Grand Salon in 2004 before moving to her current location at 35th and Kalamath four years ago. Rather than settle for the exact specifications of someone else’s shop, or relying blindly on the advice of experts, she took a more deliberate approach.
Rewinkle commissioned an architect to help her understand the basics—where she needed to account for basics like plumbing, water, and electrical. Then, with a basic layout in hand, she went to her staff for input, encouraging them to move things around based on how they expected to move through the space while working. Walls were shifted, surfaces were reimagined, and experiments were devised. The process was successful, and more than a little messy.
“We went through 10 or 15 countertop options,” said Rewinkle. “We’d splatter hair color on them one at a time and let them sit for an hour, to see which ones stained. With floor samples, we’d drop things on them that we typically drop during the course of a day to see what held up and what didn’t. We did it all as a team.”
That sort of collaboration speaks to the unique culture of Grand Salon, where stylists are hired largely on their ability to fit in the open, adventurous atmosphere. The staff is provided benefits and opportunities for ongoing education, but also access to a company softball team, charity events, and community parties. As a result, Rewinkle finds herself with a hip, functional salon populated by happy, creative stylists.
Months in advance, the Grand Salon team is already preparing their artistic executions for this year’s Pret-A-Porter design teams. Come May 12, their handiwork hits the runway. Expect a hair-raising good time.