Breaking up with a hairstylist can be as traumatic as a divorce, leading to regret, recovery, and the predictable cycle of salon hopping among the city's high-end houses of beauty: Ivan Noel, Zea Salon, Marianne Strokirk, Charles Ifergan, Mon Ami Coiffeur, Salon Mor, Fringe, Asha Salon, Maxine, Troupe Salon, Michael & Michael, and Paul Rehder. To speed the healing process, we polled friends, family, and the fabulously coifed for the names of practitioners they swear by. The (unscientific though probably pretty reliable) results:
(46 E. Oak St., Suite 250; 312-587-2700)
Prices: For a first-time visit, expect to pay $375 for a total transformation-cut, single process, highlighting, glazing, and "hair Botox," which is a liquid-collagen treatment. Repeat visits, $65 for a single process; highlights run $150 to $225.
After landing a two-year apprenticeship at Marianne Strokirk in 1992, which served as the launching pad for a nine-year career there, Shane Talbott, 33, opened Troupe Salon in 2002. As if that were not enough to keep him creatively consumed, Talbott also holds one of the most coveted weekly gigs in the city: moonlighting on Tuesdays at the Harpo Salon, coloring the locks of hip Harpo employees and guests of The Oprah Winfrey Show, who range from makeover candidates to A-list celebs. "Color is all about strategic placement of where highlights go," he explains, adding, "but the pièce de résistance is the glazing process-sealing in color, giving it shine."
Michael & Michael
(365 W. Chicago Ave.; 312-951-0779)
Prices: First-time cut is $225; repeat visits, $125; blow out $90.
Another nine-year Marianne Strokirk vet, Michael Jacobson, 40, a Glen Ellyn native, has been cutting hair for 20 years. "My philosophy is, What does your hair want to do?" he says. Jacobson works with the hair's natural texture, whether it's curly or straight, and adds a little "trend." "I always look to have fun, and give the hair some action, movement," he says. Jacobson thinks that head shape is vital in determining the right style, and he uses the "dry cut" technique (washing, drying, then cutting), which allows him to see how the hair lies naturally. He has styled the tresses of NBC 5 news anchors Ellee Pai Hong, Nesita Kwan, and Anita Padilla and of the actress Robin Tunney from Prison Break. Jacobson's fall forecast? "Wave, curl, texture-stronger, bolder shapes," he says. "Hair will be easily transformed and versatile."
Hair and makeup artist
(939 N. Rush St.; 312-943-7404)
Prices: First-time cut $100; repeat visits, $85. Highlights start at $125; a single process costs $60.
A 14-year veteran who got her start training under Alex Ianau of Vidal Sassoon, Jillian Seely, "30-something," has an easygoing vibe and an urban edge. "I want to make people feel and look sexy," she says. "I start with the Sassoon style of cutting, which is very regimented and meticulous; then I do the rest freehand-I sculpt hair to fit the face and head shape-and I don't let people walk out of here looking ordinary." About five years ago, she added "colorist" to her résumé. One of her signature techniques is Balayage-a paint-on highlighting process that doesn't use foils. "The color blends more naturally and the outgrowth is better." Seely is also a hair and makeup artist represented by Ford, though she's probably best known as an industry hairstylist whose roster of past clients has included her good friend Jeremy Piven, Jamie Lee Curtis, and (until his death in 1997) Chris Farley.
Straightening guru and creative director
(712 N. Rush St.; 312-751-1511)
Price: $600 to $1,000 for Japanese thermal reconditioning, depending on hair type
"I try to take as many classes as I can get my hands on," says Amy Abramite, 30, the educational director for hairstylists at Maxine, the high-end salon where she's worked for her seven-year career. The petite Carol Stream native with the rock-'n'-roll wardrobe is also the salon's straightening guru, using Japanese thermal reconditioning, the results of which last an average of eight to ten months. "I treat hair in all three categories-noncolored, virgin hair; color-treated hair; and heavily highlighted, blond hair," she says. "Most places only work with two categories." Abramite says she can get hair 70 to 90 percent straighter, cutting down on styling time by at least half. "You'll be out of the shower, ready to walk out the door in 20 minutes," she says.