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An ode to hairdressers: the unsung heroes of the pandemic

7 October 2021

Fashion Quarterly managing editor Sarah Murray is missing her hairdresser over lockdown, and (spoiler) it’s not just about the cut.

Image: Shutterstock.

I first met Danny Pato from D&M Hair Design about ten years ago, when I’d just landed my first gig as a beauty editor for a weekly publication. He had wild and voluminous black hair, an infectious laugh, and an accent that I didn’t always understand. He sat me down in the chair, gave me a glass of sauvignon blanc, and we talked about all things fashion, beauty, and magazines. I loved him immediately.

Since that first tentative trim where I allowed him to cut precisely 1.5 inches off my precious never-been-dyed hair, a lot has changed. My hair (and his!) has gone through many iterations: I’ve tried balayage, highlights, and block colours. I’ve gone from lower-rib grazing long hair to a lob, then a bob, then back again. I’ve gone lighter and lighter, until one day I went dark (thanks to my favourite D&M colourist Jess!). All the while, Danny (who during this time won countless international awards), never pushed. He always let me come to my own conclusion about my hair rather than forcing me to change for some Instagram-worthy before and after. 

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Danny Pato.

Thanks to this ethos, I’ve never left with a bad cut or colour. In fact, from that first meeting, I never left at all. Over the years I’ve changed jobs, got married (he did my hair, of course), and had three babies. I still remember my first haircut after my dad died, and I don’t know why, but something about the ritual made me so emotional I had to bite the inside of my cheek to stop myself crying. 

Somehow, even on those darkest days, despite the season or circumstance I always leave feeling better about myself, and better about the world. Because, there is something to be said about taking time for yourself and having your hair cut, dyed, or styled. To be looked after by someone else. It’s therapeutic. It’s cathartic. It’s a form of  self-care. And I suppose that’s why we’re all missing our hairdressers so much during lockdown. Sure, some of us need a trim (my lob is now a very awkward non-lob length), while others are desperate to touch up their greys. But I think it’s more than that. I think we’re all missing that feeling of comfort and care that a hair salon, or service-based industry, provides. 

As it stands, my relationship with Danny is as long as my marriage, longer actually. And if anyone ever asks me for my hair salon recommendations I will swear allegiance to D&M till the day I die. Because it’s not about the cut, not really. It’s about the people that keep you coming back. 

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