It all started at a party. (I have a feeling a lot of my articles are going to open with that line.)
My dear friend, Jane Owen, is a lovely woman and PR maven here in Los Angeles. She's always inviting me to some fun party or whatnot. Oscar week marks the end of awards season, and she was presiding over loads of events, one of them being an art party at the Rossano Ferretti salon, celebrating the work of Bobby Hill, a New-York-based contemporary artist.
I really don't give much of crap about art; I either like a piece or I don't. But after googling Rossano Ferretti, WILD HORSES COULDN'T KEEP ME FROM THIS PARTY.
First of all, he's Italian, and I have a soft spot for people from the "old country" (one of several of my "old countries"). Secondly, he's purported to be the world's most expensive hairdresser, at $1000 a cut.
Can I afford this? NO! Did I want to meet the man and did I hope our shared background and my sparkling personality would ingratiate myself (and my hair) into his good graces? Um, yeah.
It was raining in Beverly Hills that night, which is peculiar, as it never rains in LA. I arrived at the party and, just like gallery events in Manhattan, everyone was in black. Including me, for the time being, in my raincoat.
I made a beeline to Ms. Owen to say hello, and because I didn't know anyone else there. Her energy was very high, attending to the details of the party. She took a moment to say hello, make sure I had a drink, and introduce me to some people to get my momentum started. Then, she bolted off to do the same for another guest. (She knows how to work it.)
I had a glass of wine, wandered around looking at the art, and assessed the situation. (First rule of parties: always do a lap.) I could tell who at the event was affiliated with the salon, because they were impeccably dressed and keeping a close eye on the partygoers, as if to ensure they weren't stealing anything.
At this point, I went to check my makeup in the bathroom, took off my black raincoat, stashed it, and strolled back out into the party in my hot pink Adrianna Papell cocktail dress. BLAM! HOT PINK! It caused a small sensation as I suddenly stood out like a sore thumb in the sea of black clothes.
Jane came running over all "Daaaaaaarling, what an exquisite dress! Wow! Let me introduce you to Rossano! I'm sure he'd love to do your hair for one of your upcoming events!" Checkmate.
Rossano Ferretti is a very tall man, dressed like all refined Italian men--flawless--and has a quiet, genial nature. Also, he was sick. I attempted to get a chat started, but his stress while keeping an eye on the salon and being under-the-weather was making conversation difficult. (Usually, with a name like "Allegra" Italians get really happy because it literally MEANS happy in Italian)
Poor guy had a dry cough for days and was becoming concerned about it. I told him I have a great doctor friend (which is totally true) we could call for advice. That seemed to win him over a bit, and he started asking about my hair.
"One, two, three," he counted, "... nine, ten, eleven," and on for a while, taking inventory of my grays. "What are you doing tomorrow?" he asked, "Come in, and we'll take care of that."
The next day, I sushi for lunch, followed by a root canal. The left side of my face was so numb that when I arrived at the salon and was offered coffee, I had to politely decline. Luckily, this kind of salon is on the ball--they had straws.
Rossano had already gone home sick, so Salina and Massimo were going to transform me. I sat in a chair while they loomed over me. Massimo used his hands to toss and flick my hair around for quite a while, staring intently at it the whole time.
"What are you doing?" I asked.
"Our method is to see where the hair falls naturally, and cut it with this in mind." he said. "Usually, with new clients, I hate how their hair falls, but I quite like your cut, and you don't really have split ends. This upsets me, as I have nothing mean to say to you!"
I laughed loudly and drooled a little out of the numb side of my face.
I told Salina I wanted to dye my hair pink (like Kate Moss in that late-'90s Versace show), but she suggested perhaps we wait to do fun stuff like that until after awards season. Fiiiiine. She mixed up a really gentle glaze, that would boost my hair's shine and gently cover up the grays. As I carefully sipped from a straw, she went to work.
After the color was set, she washed my hair and sat me back down with Massimo. He gave me a lovely refresher to my haircut, really taking his time and being thoughtful, while exhibiting the grace of a ballet dancer in his movements. My hair was so shiny and bouncy, he didn't even put product in it.
Seriously, you MUST go to Massimo and Salina if you're in Beverly Hills. (Tell them Allegra sent you.)
After it was all said and done, I looked like a hair commercial. There was a parade of stylists gathered around to tell me how fabulous I looked, and honestly, they weren't wrong. I had Angelina Jolie hair!
What the hell was this going to cost me?!?!?
If it had been Rossano, I'm sure it would have been enough for a rent check, but as it was Salina and Massimo, who are amazing but not named in the salon sign, it was much less. Plus, they gave me a 20% discount as a friend of Jane's. I don't remember exactly how much it was (around $400, I think) because the unthinkable happened.
My credit card was DECLINED.
It was the only one I brought, and it was 7 pm--closing time for the salon. I called my bank to see WTF was happening, and apparently, earlier in the afternoon, someone had accessed my card info and went on a shopping spree on the internet. THE VERY INTERNET ON WHICH YOU ARE READING THIS. They bought all kinds of software and domain names. They had spent $3000, and I was $275 in the hole.
The receptionist was gracious to let me sit at the front desk computer to check my online balance and use the house phone. My card was canceled immediately, and the fraud investigation people went to work finding out what happened and refunding my money.
However, I was still sitting in the MOST EXPENSIVE HAIRDRESSER IN THE WORLD's salon, and these lovely people (who were saying not to worry and come back tomorrow) needed to get paid.
Luckily, I was able to convince the sweet receptionist to take a credit card over the phone, and called my boyfriend in a panic. It was all resolved, but I couldn't tip as I had no cash and my card was frozen!
It was incredibly embarrassing, even though the staff was SO understanding. I promised them I'd be back the next day, with tips for everybody. They were saying it was unnecessary, but OH HELL NO--that is not my style.
As I, and my hair, swished out of the salon, I felt like a moron. How did I get hacked? Was it from the sushi place? I mean, thank goodness I had my hair done--if I hadn't, the fraud might not have been caught the same day. Ugh.
The next day, I went back to the salon and tipped Salina and Massimo, even though they sweetly tried to decline. They not only made my hair look amazing, but the staff at this amazing place also renewed my belief in the existence of nice people--even in LA! Not everyone is a douchebag like the guy who stole my credit card info and caused me great humiliation.
Has your credit card ever been declined after a beauty treatment? Ever forget to tip? How did you handle it?