This swank salon resembles a chi-chi slumber party for grown-ups. Stylists may trade barbs and banter above the din of the hair dryers, but they’re serious about hair. Owner and top stylist Allan Parss runs a class-act salon: calming white and grey tiles, luxurious wash station chairs, massage chairs and personal TVs for customers parked under the dryer. Big hair is in, and looks range from traditional to outrageous. Staff will go off-site. Makeup $55, updo $75–$150, haircut $55–$150 ($35–$75 for men). Packages are available for groups of five or more. Closed Sunday and Monday. 42 Wellington St. E. (at Church St.), 416-622-9070.
CityLine regular and celeb stylist Bill Angst is considered a local treasure by loyal customers who have been making the pilgrimage to his salon for more than 20 years. That’s no small tribute, considering that the establishment makes its home on one of the scrappiest stretches of Queen East. Angst doesn’t attend to brides himself, except for existing clients, but he has three stylists who handle nuptials: Sandy Ciuro charges up to $1,000 per day, plus travel, to do the whole bridal party. Marco Greco charges $200 per person for eight or more, with no travel fee. Men’s haircuts $40–$170, colour $65–$100, highlights $100–$150. Women’s haircuts $55–$200, colour $65–$100, highlights $55–$200. Closed Sunday and Monday. 240 Queen St. E. (at Sherbourne), 416-360-5942.
Toronto’s first blow-dry-focused salon banishes bad hair days. Since its 2008 opening, the sleek space has attracted legions of Toronto socialites and finance femmes, all eager to avoid the hassle of doing their own do. Co-owner Beni Sicilia and his team of stylists are pleased to provide a quick snip along with a hair commercial–calibre blowout. Big curls are chic. Prices range from $35 to $45, depending on the length and thickness of locks. An updo can be added for $20 to $35. Pre-wedding trials, including food and drink, usually take place a month before the nuptials. Champagne provided. 1343 Yonge St. (at Balmoral Ave.), 416-847-2569.
Despite its Yorkville location, Blyss is welcoming and unpretentious. It’s a light and airy space where clients often show up in sweats. Cuts, which start at $45 with a junior stylist (senior stylists from $75), reflect the ambience: sophisticated yet fuss-free. In this year are updos, lower and fuller buns and slightly asymmetrical looks. Stylists prefer to work in-house, but offer the bride purse-sized hairspray for touch-ups. Blow-dry and set $60–$75, updo $100–$150, full colour from $65, partial highlights from $95. Aesthetic treatments, including manis and pedis, start at $60; makeup $85. Discounts for larger groups. Closed Sunday and Monday. 25 Bellair St. (at Cumberland St.), 3rd flr., 416-921-7860.
Bruna Mata came to Canada 12 years ago from Albania and quickly became one of the most sought-after hairstylists in the city. She spent eight years working at Jalouse Hair, building a roster of devoted Forest Hill clients, before striking out on her own in 2009. While she’s content to leave her own locks pulled back in a no-fuss ponytail, Mata wants nothing but the best for her clients. “Divas feel comfortable with me,” she explains, “because we want the same thing—perfection.” Whether perfection means loose mermaid waves à la Kim Kardashian or a romantic Grace Kelly updo, Mata delivers. She’s booked a year in advance for weddings. Bride’s updo from $120, hair trial $80, bridesmaids $85 per person (she can do up to 10 without help). By appointment. 416 904-3709.
THE CABINET SALON
For brides, owners Alex MacDonald and Emma Rose favour Hollywood glamour styles similar to those worn by Veronica Lake. Most recently, they have been setting hair in soft waves and adding accent pieces, like pillbox veils and vintage rhinestones. Bridal dos $80. Closed Sunday. 577 Queen St. W. (at Portland St.), 2nd flr., 647-344-3132.
DARREN KWIK STUDIO
Tucked into the Chocolate Company Lofts on Queen West, Darren Kwik’s salon brings Yorkville-style, high-rollin’ service to downtown. Clients are outfitted with black fluffy robes and a glass of wine, or a cup of coffee, or herbal tea, before a heavenly scalp massage. Kwik’s trademark fusing of elegant and funky styles extends to bridal services. In-house stylists can accommodate wedding parties, and freelance makeup artists can be made available. Generally, wedding services are provided in the salon. Bridal hairstyle $100–$150, bridesmaids $75–$80. Closed Sunday and Monday. 955 Queen St. W. (at Massey St.), Unit 112, 416-361-1016.
Fear not the big day, ladies with unruly curls. Lysa Fina of Grateful Head is a curl master with a flair for the dramatic. Her cozy Roncesvalles salon, with velvet curtains, black-and-white walls and a rotating exhibition of local artists, will calm brides with butterflies, as will the champagne that Fina provides as she primps. Fina delivers soft curls and natural waves at reasonable prices. These days, she says, brides are keeping it simple: “They want to look like themselves on their wedding day.” That means dispensing with the veil and opting instead for fresh flowers, or antique brooches and jewelled hairpins, for cocktail receptions. Bride’s hair $200–$250, including consultation and trial. Shampoo and blow-dry for the mother of the bride $30–$50. Fina will come to your venue. 231 Roncesvalles Ave. (at Fermanagh Ave.), 416-915-4323.
HAIR ON THE AVENUE
Piloted by Luis Pacheco and Anthony Ingraldi, Hair on the Avenue channels art deco elegance in its furnishings, while a plasma screen shows silent films. But brides these days are drawing more inspiration from ’60s styles. The fact that the Victorian townhouse abuts the Annex rather than Yorkville speaks to its lack of airs. Cuts $65–$130, colour $85–$225. A side business, Blown, offers blow-drying in under 30 minutes for $35. Bride’s hair and makeup $275, maid of honour updo $80. Trial (hair and makeup) $175. 112 Avenue Rd. (at Tranby Ave.), 416-922-0112.
Hair master Jie Matar, well known for his former Yorkville shop, is the creative director behind this incognito Davenport salon—you have to ring a bell for entry. Within lies a chandeliered two-floor operation reminiscent of a ’30s Paris hotel. Colour starts at $95 for one tone; highlights start at $150. For existing clients, wedding packages (hair and makeup) start at $1,000 for five people, including hors d’oeuvre and champagne. A trial session for the bride is $250. Matar will travel wherever he’s needed. That’s a good thing, as many brides these days sport two looks: one for the ceremony and another for the reception. 186 Davenport Rd. (at Avenue Rd.), 416-925-6000.
Styling guru Janet Jackson has a celebrity clientele that includes Keshia Chanté, Iman and Rosario Dawson, and she is booked for high-profile commercial projects such as So You Think You Can Dance Canada. Extensions and lace-front wigs are specialties. This year, she’s seeing longer, fuller hair for brides; many are adding hairpieces. Cuts by Jackson start at $90, colour from $70, highlights from $110; other stylists charge slightly less. Bride’s updo $85, with discounts for larger wedding parties. Will work off-site. Closed Sunday and Monday. 375 Royal York Rd. (at Portland St.), 416-255-4247.
Eglinton’s young professionals frequent this salon, for good reason. Scalp massages, cappuccinos and wine sweeten the deal, but the main attraction is the staff, trained by Bumble and Bumble and Kevin Murphy. A range of looks, from traditional to edgy, is offered for brides. Wedding party styling and makeup are available, and the salon can be shut down for a group. Trial recommended one to two weeks prior to wedding. Bride’s updo from $205, styling from $45 per person, makeup $75 per person. Closed Sunday and Monday. 537 Mount Pleasant Rd. (at Belsize Dr.), 416-461-8741.
After more than 40 years in business, Michael Kluthe’s salon is a Toronto institution. In fact, a good chunk of his clientele has stuck with him since day one. The salon’s enormous space, bustling atmosphere and army of staffers—13 stylists and 10 colour technicians—are a testament to its continued popularity. It also offers other must-have treatments like facials, Brazilian waxes, manicures, pedicures, extensions, hair straightening therapy and makeup applications. The trend right now is up for brides, down for bridesmaids. Cuts from $28, colour from $66, full highlights $150. Bride’s updo from $50, hair trial $50, makeup trial $75, down style $44. Closed Sunday. 1428 Yonge St. (at Pleasant Blvd.), 416-925-6306.
OSKAR ON SCOLLARD
Though his updos and blowouts are outstanding, Oskar Varela’s masterful colouring abilities really make this the spot for brides with tricky tones. Varela recommends women visit at least two months before the big day, with the last colour and cut two weeks prior; he sometimes works with them up to a year in advance to ensure no one walks down the aisle with brassy highlights. The salon’s soft turquoise interior and chandeliers set the tone for old-fashioned pampering. Varela’s wife, Tanya, sees to it that each visit starts with a cappuccino and sweet treats, as well as a custom catered brunch on the morning of the big day. They’ll go off-site, too. Updos with trial from $160; down style from $100. Closed Sunday and Monday. 68 Scollard St. (at Bay), lower level, 647-346-3306.
Although Parlour was started in 2009 by two former employees from nearby Coupe Bizzarre—colourist Franz David and manager Tyler Moore—the only carry-over from that Queen West institution, known for its blaring techno and electric pink walls, is the quality of the cuts (as well as several senior members of the staff). Big band music plays in the background of this comfortable, spacious salon, where sedate black furniture dots an otherwise completely white room. Stylists create modern looks for brides: natural updos and side buns are de rigueur. The salon will accommodate wedding parties. Staff will also go off-site. Bridal hairstyle $100; bridal party $75 each. Closed Monday. 6 Ossington Ave. (at Queen), 647-345-6663.
Staff at this Little Italy salon cut and colour with contemporary flair and practicality in mind. They let current trends guide them, but they don’t subscribe to any one signature style. Romantic updos have been a dominant look this year. Styling is done in-store, but the salon will open early for groups of five or more. Cuts $40–$45, colour from $65, highlights from $85. Couples who are still finishing off their degrees take note: student discounts are available. One stylist does makeup. Bride’s updo $100, bridesmaids start at $50 each, flower girl $25. Closed Sunday and Monday. 342 Manning Ave. (at College), 416-588-3366.
With more than 40 years’ experience and a roster of diva clients, Raffaello Marrello is the stylist for brides who imagine the aisle as a runway. He keeps it in the family—the salon’s award-winning colour expert is his daughter Mellissa, and the creative director is his son Christopher. Brides are taken care of by the latter, who creates bold styles, from sweeping updos to angular looks. At the salon, bride’s hair $150, makeup $155; wedding party hair $85, makeup $65. On location, half-day minimum $550, full-day minimum $950. Closed Sunday. 136 Yorkville Ave. (at Hazelton Ave.), 416-929-0021.
Long-time stylist Robert Gage works with the look of the bride-to-be, not against it, so there are no extreme make-overs here. The on-site makeup artist, Stacey Martin, has worked on such pretty faces as Shania Twain’s. The salon will open early if clients request it, and additional makeup artists can be brought in ($80–$100). Gage charges $75 for an updo and $130 for a cut; the five other stylists start at $65. Groom’s haircut $45–$70. Staff will go off-site. Closed Sunday and Monday. 14 St. Joseph St. (at Yonge), 416-920-9338.
The salon itself—all shiny metal, mirrors and narrow, winding staircases—could use an update. It has, after all, been more than 40 years since the legendary English master established his Toronto outpost. However, the mega-brand he created remains an epicentre of fashionable hair. Brides are forewarned: if they want long hair on the wedding day, they’ll have to grow it out; extensions are eschewed. A pre-wedding colour and cut ($78–$230) is recommended three weeks prior to the date of the ceremony. Closed Sunday and Monday. 37 Avenue Rd. (at Yorkville Ave.), 416-920-1333.
Now in its 13th year, Shagg has gained a reputation for friendly, attitude-free service—even though two of its three owners, Christopher Martin and Justin German, are heavyweights in the hair industry. The rest of the team consists of cutters and colourists. Rather than following the trends, they tailor styles to the individual. Cuts from $65, highlights from $100, basic blow-dry $30, updo from $100 (more if extensions are involved). Closed Sunday and Monday. 102 Scollard St. (at Bay), 416-934-1817.
SHAMPOO HAIR STUDIO
Avoid the pretension that’s often palpable at trendy mega-salons by coming to this laid-back Kensington Market alternative. A team of six stylists offers updos and colours to a varied clientele seated in the vintage red vinyl chairs that line the sunken studio. This may not be the place to bring a bridal party hoping to be spoiled, but, as one stylist said, it makes sense “for the bride not steeped in tradition, who wants to look like herself.” Tapping into the neighbourhood’s creative vibe, Shampoo hosts regular art shows. Cuts from $45 (men and women), colour from $70, highlights from $90. Bride’s updo $70, blow-dry $45. Closed Monday. 32 St. Andrew St. (at Kensington Ave.), 416-542-1576.
Owner Brian Phillips says Worldsalon is “for brides considering their ecological footprints.” The enviro-salon boasts rooftop solar panels and a custom line of products that are free of parabens, sulfates, colours and fragrances. It’s no surprise that Phillips’s past clients include such green celebs as Kim Cattrall and Norah Jones. Although environmentalism is key here, it doesn’t stop the stylists from creating modern, edgy styles. A cut and updo with Worldsalon’s wedding specialist, Johanna Hummer, starts at $175. Closed Sunday and Monday. 132 Adelaide St. E. (at Jarvis St.), 416-594-1402.