Renowned hairdresser John Barrett fills his Midtown home with a cache of premium finds and even more priceless memories
“I opened my mail one day and there was a check for $35,000 from New York state,” divulges illustrious hairdresser and owner of the eponymous salon John Barrett. “Instead of calling my accountant, I phoned [art dealer] Bill Acquavella and said, ‘What should I do?’ He told me to sit tight and came back with this Lucian Freud [etching],” says Barrett, standing over the aforementioned Portrait Head of British art critic Martin Gayford.
The airy, open-plan midtown Manhattan apartment serves as a prime backdrop for story after unforgettable story behind nearly every item in the space—from a grand piano acquired during a furnishings auction at the original Tavern on the Green (“I simply went to hold the hand of my friend Kay LeRoy and somehow ended up with a piano!”) to the Leontine bed linens (“I can hardly sleep in a bed unless they’re Leontine Linens!”). Preternaturally, it’s revealed that Angelica Huston and Vanessa Redgrave have had a “heated” discussion on his Leontine Linens–clad bed, which alludes to a broader, more salient point: The home is an entertainer’s dream. When the numerous sitting nooks in his living room are filled with anywhere from 50 to 100 of the host’s nearest and dearest during semiregular dinner parties, the vibe hearkens to European salons of yore. “Many New Yorkers never invite you into their homes, but I spent my formative years in London, and that’s where you go,” he comments.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Irish-born creative decorated entirely on his own. “I don’t want to be pushed down a certain road—it’s about having confidence in your taste,” he expounds, referencing as an example a Joe Gaffney diptych that hangs on opposite walls of his bedroom. “The message—both here and in my salon—is to use your initiative. I was told not to break it up, but why not when it looks amazing like this? Don’t be bound by rules! The feeling of my whole apartment is to be comfortable: If you spill a glass of wine or a cup of coffee, it doesn’t matter. They’re just things.”
In keeping with that sentiment, creature comforts abound: Walls upon walls of coffee-table and limited-edition books from extensive travels beckon for perusal, gallery walls of fine art from the likes of Helmut Newton and James Nares to David Bailey and Elisabeth Frink invite cultural discourse, and the master shower was outfitted with both a rain shower and a handheld spray head for regular visits from his goddaughter and her mother. “I’m very conscious of the fact that women don’t always want to get their hair wet, so voilà,” he says with a laugh. Spoken like a true hair connoisseur.
“I simply went to hold the hand of my friend Kay LeRoy and somehow ended up with a piano!” reflects hairdresser John Barrett, who acquired the instrument for his midtown Manhattan apartment during a furnishings auction at the original Tavern on the Green. Also pictured: a painting is by Eric Watson, a former employee of Barrett; a photograph of Keith Haring by Patrick McMullen; an etching by Lucian Freud; and a seagull painting by Elisabeth Frink.