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Los Angeles’s Top Hair Salons Juggle Masks and Curfews in the First Days of Reopening

Salons are shifting their practices for a number of reasons now, but some long-in-the-works changes wound being uncannily prescient. Ted Gibson and his husband and business partner, Jason Backe,celebrated the year anniversary of their salon in April, as the couple holed up in Palm Springs. Starring by Ted Gibson, as the salon is called, was born out of frustration with the existing models. (They operated three salons—in New York, Washington, D.C., and Fort Lauderdale—before closing them in 2015.) “We were thinking, ‘What is the salon of the future?’” Backe recalled. Instead of a behemoth space, packed elbow to elbow with people attending to your every need, they reflected on the intimacy of a first-class airplane pod, coupled with the cashless ease of an Uber. To execute their idea, the couple tapped Francisco Gonzalez-Pulido to design individual “clouds,” each bathed in an adjustable wash of pastel LEDs. (“Chill, creative, energy,” Backe said, citing the options, even if 2020 seems to demand “rage, despair, ennui.”) There are no assistants, no front desk staff, no phones. Just add masks, and the salon was more or less COVID era-approved.


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