Thanks to La Perla's fashion show at Fullerton Bay Hotel, one of the goodie bag items was a discount voucher for a service.
Disclaimer: I've cut my own hair before because I find it challenging to find a good stylist that listens to what I want. I'm fiercely loyal to my stylist of 20 years -- Bill from Tops Salon in NYC. In HK I've been with Adrian for 4 years.
Had a great experience and respect mgt for doing a great job delivering the brand. Overall solid client experience.
Lemongrass scent wafting in the air, uncluttered space. Offered a beverage of choice, had a latte. V good. The salon is quite large with side pods offering a semi private experience.
My stylist Marcus was professional and attentively listened to my needs. No product or service pushing. Cut my hair dry. Instead of sectioning my hair with a clip, his asst held sections of my hair while it was being cut. I felt a bit indulgent, but hey I do things like this once in a blue moon.
The shampoo and massage:
My favorite part of the experience. Marcus' asst provided an excellent head and neck massage. The chirping bird music in the background heightened the experience.. The aromatherapy shampoo and conditioner was nice as well.
The blow dry:
Marcus seemed to dance with the brush as he blow dried my hair. He was v attentive to how my tresses reacted to the heat.
Cut and blow dry: US110
I ended up paying around US50 with the voucher. Having been to a Phyto salon in NY, I would say KR is a solid competitor.
As an aside, water is served in a wine glass with a plastic protector top (there's a hole allowing for a straw to be put in). A nice touch.
Freshest report as of now. Unique review of these 2 hair salons. This post is best viewed with a computer/laptop, not mobile phone.
The same printout of a haircut (6 color photos on 1 sheet) of Lee Min Hos best hairstyle during his Beijing concert My Everything was shown to these 2 hair salons.
Kim Robinson Versus La Coco
Date of haircut: 7 Feb 2013 4 Apr 2013
Time: 5.30 pm 4.30 pm
Price: $138 Price: $53.50
Stylist: Eric Lim Stylist: Soo Bin
Haircutting Skill: Definitely knows hair Haircutting Skill: Not so good
Wet Cut Dry Cut
Hairwasher (Male smoker): Bad (+reeked of smoke) Hairwasher (Female): Weak
Massage service: Super Bad Massage service: None
Service on haircutting floor: Flawless Service on haircutting floor: Good
Front desk service: Newbie-ish. Front desk Korean man: Unfriendly, proud
Drinks offered: Yes Drinks offered: No
Snacks offered: No Snacks offered: No
Waiting time: Immediate 1st time, walk-in
2nd time free touch up 15~20 mins waiting, with appt Immediate, walk-in
Number of visits: Twice (2nd time free touch-up) Number of visits: 1
Stylists were randomly assigned to me.
First of all, its only common sense that all salons should do dry cuts. In the past, I used to wonder why salons cut hair when wet. As a child, my mom used to cut my hair dry and she said wet hair clumps and is difficult to cut properly.
Wet hair will become a shorter length when dried. Stylists have to take note and make allowance for the length differences and design deviation when doing wet cuts, otherwise the result during wet cut will become inaccurate.
Kim Robinson: The back end was the smoothest cut I have ever had. Eric really knows how to cut following the natural lay of the hair in that area. The hair lies down smoothly at the back end.
He also knows when to stop cutting.
However. I had wanted the back end to be shaped towards a V at the center, and he was not able to achieve that. Instead, the back end looked undecided, but he said it would grow into a V. It didnt.
He was also unable to create the waves along the hair at the front like in the printout photos. He said it was a styling effect, even though it looked not merely a styling effect but a method of cutting.
He was unable to produce the different lengths of hair at the front. Neither could he create cuts that would enhance volume.
At the start, he had suggested I perm my hair, but didnt give me a reason. I declined since I know from reviews that perms take much more cash than imagined and I dont want my already fine hair to be ruined.
The return visit was 10 days later. This was a free touch-up. Reason was the back end looked very undecided and the front part looked too long without any bounce or different lengths.
There was about 20 mins waiting time as Eric was attending to a long-haired woman.
The result = the touch-up made the front part a little too short and still without the different lengths that would give it some definition and volume. The back was untouched as he didnt see any problem there, even though thats the part I came to get fixed because it didnt look like what I wanted. Overall, it looked a little unbalanced.
Will I be going back? $138 that lasts just 2~3 weeks, and not perfectly satisfied. No.
If it were less steep, I might consider trying their other stylists.
La Coco: Soo Bin provided attentive service. But she started to panic and hurry when another customer waiting for her showed up a few minutes into my haircut.
Before this, at the start, when she saw the printout I showed her, she suggested that I perm my hair to create the volume and waves. The perm would cost $120 on top of $50 for the haircut. A hair treatment would be added in if I took the perm because the perm is chemicals that would damage the hair.
At first I said I only brought $60, because thats what the front desk man said when I called to ask. But she didnt understand and waited for me to consider getting a perm. So I said next time after she mentioned chemicals and needing treatment.
She looked disappointed and said without a perm, creating volume would be difficult.
I was thinking, if shes good, she would be able to create volume without resorting to perm. I know this because I have watched Celia at Reds salon do this for me (amazing just watching her).
I told Soo Bin to try creating the look without perm, prepared that if it was bad, I would just go to QB to get it fixed.
At first, she tried making conversation but was inadequate in expressing herself in English. Neither could I speak Korean.
My recommendation for customers who dont know Korean = learn a few words essential to conveying what you want done.
Despite her care in trying to understand what I wanted, she still misunderstood.
I had wanted different lengths to the front part, and gestured with scissoring my fingers but she still lifted my hair in her fingers and cut straight across.
At QB, the stylists know this style of cutting different lengths. So, I am surprised Soo Bin and Eric dont know this technique. I think stylists should pick up techniques from one another across different salons, rather than just study at a school or work at a few salons.
Certain stylists have their own special technique and it would be good if other stylists also know it, although it would not be beneficial to the stylist who came up with it (no longer unique or his/her trademark).
For the sides, I said thinner and gestured the pointed sharp look. But Soo Bin must have thought its shorter and cut the sides too short.
The back end, she understood that cutting too short would produce a stick-up effect on my hair. An observation also made by Eric. But even then, she cut the back end rather too short. It sticks up now.
For the back upper portion, she succeeded Eric in creating volume, simply by cutting the bottom end flatter and layering upwards in shorter lengths so that the upper part now has a fuller form. This is what I have been trying to get Eric to do, but he didnt get what I mean.
While I am pleased with the back volume, the front and sides and back end are too short. Although I had requested shorter hair and supervised it, the outcome was an expected disappointment.
Will I be going back? No. Not satisfied.
There was a reviewer who said he switched to other salons because of communication problems with La Cocos stylists.
At first, I actually wanted to try the $20 salon at Basement of Marine Square. Its something like QB but they do washing and styling. Cant recall the name.
Then I was considering Kenaris and Jiwon.
With the negative reviews for Kenaris, I havent been able to bring myself to try, although I stood outside their salon recently. I remember the reviewer who said the result was very bad compared to a previous time even though it was the same stylist.
For Jiwon maybe next time.
I couldnt afford any more screw-ups (since I only have so much hair), so I tried to choose a better stylist from the artistic team, priced at a steep S$198 per cut. You can have a haircut there priced from S$138 by the junior artists, and a cut by Mr. Kim Robinson himself costs a whooping S$2700!
Kim Robinson is renowned for his famous dry cut technique which styles your hair in such a way that will make it look the same way even when you go home, wash and dry it yourself. I believe mileage is important in a hairstyle no point looking great for only 5 minutes after you step out of a hair salon (which was what happened to me at Kenaris.)
James Ho was my stylist and he was very professional indeed. Gave me a few useful tips about how I can make my hair more manageable. Most importantly, he managed to reverse the horror made by the stylist at Kenaris, with just a few snips. Cool.
Anyway, I was so happy with the resolution of my previous nightmare, Im pretty sure Ill head back there again. They gave some vouchers at the close of payment which seemed like quite reasonable deals, including bringing a friend there to cut together for the price of 1. Just sweet. Im so glad I can go out and face the world again with my flowy restored hair. And I think Ill never step foot into the other hair studio ever again.
Kim Robinson Salon is great. The choice of beverages and snacks available, the long hair wash and hair massage that makes your hair stand and sent shivers down the spine, the after cut service (hair checks within 2 weeks) just make the price all worthwhile!
1. The Shampoo/Massage The shampoo and massage I recieved today at Kim Robinson before my haircut were the best of my life. As I was relaxing into my shampooists amazing hands I found myself wondering how it was possible that this pre-haircut experience could be so much better than any other Id ever received, whether in London, New York, San Francisco, etc. And although Im 80% sure my shampooist was gay (a 20% possibility he was just trendy Singaporean) and I wasnt remotely attracted to him, I found myself envying his boyfriend. It was that amazing. Even the shampoo used lathered into a perfect foam within 3 seconds of being applied to my hair (how did they make it do that??) And although I couldnt place the smell at first, on the second lathering I realized it was Earl Gray scented shampoo. Transcendental. The room was darkened so I didnt have to stare into bright lights. And the sink/basin used to wash my hair was so comfortable I could have fallen asleep. You know how usually when youre getting your hair shampooed the sink edge sort of hurts the back of your neck because either its too narrow and sort of jabs into it or it curves too much so it hits the base of your skull in an uncomfortable way? Not the case at Kim Robinson. Even the towel used to wrap my wet hair was flattering.
2. The Hair Stylists are Excellent The number one fear of westerners when getting their haircut in Asia is that the hair stylist will not know how to cut non-Asian hair and they will end up looking like they were attacked by sheep clippers. My stylist, Carmen, was a cute Malaysian woman who was about 7 months pregnant. She was so much more skilled and professional than the guy who cut my hair in Shanghai that I feel sort of sorry for him. The guy in Shanghai gave off the same energy I give off when Im cutting peoples hair. Which is, fuck, I hope I dont screw this up. And although I ended up looking fine, I remember feeling surprised that I did. In addition, the fact that I needed to get my hair cut again about 5 weeks later is vexing (though my hair does grow prenaturally fast in warm humid weather). Carmen obviously knew what she was doing. She had confidence and skill. By the end of the cut I felt like she was finishing off an art piece rather than cutting my hair. It was great watching her in action.
3. Human Hair Clips You know how generally when you get your hair cut (if you have longish hair) they use hair clips to pin up layers so they can cut the hair underneath? Well, at Takashimaya they dont use hairclips. They use humans. The same guy who shampooed my hair then was in charge holding pieces of my hair out of the way so Carmen could cut. In essence he functioned as a human hairclip. At first it was a little weird. By the end I sort of liked it.
4. Beverages Before my haircut I was asked what I would like to drink. Although I ordered my old standby (water with no ice) my sense was that if I had ordered Thai iced tea, champagne or even warm yaks milk, they would have bent over backwards to get it for me. (Let it be noted that when I ordered water they asked if I wanted warm, room temperature or cold and then served my room temperature water in a goblet with a straw and a clear plastic protective seal over the top to ensure no hair got into the cup while my hair was being cut). Not bad on the customer service.
5. People with Western Hair are a Novelty So besides the human hairclip/shampooist/massagist watching Carmen cut my hair (Im assuming he was an assistant/trainee), there was a whole group of people giving special notice at various times throughout the cut. My guess is since I have curlyish western hair and they are more accustomed to dealing with straight Asian hair, they thought by watching they could learn a thing or two.
6.The Blow Dry At one point I had 3 round brushes wrapped in my hair. The human hairclip/shampooist/massagist held 2 of them and Carmen held a third with her left hand as she positioned the blow drier with her right. This went on throughout the entire process, so essentially the brushes were moved around my head by two sets of hands, enhancing curls and adding poofiness. Ive never had my hair dried by two sets of hands before. It was far out.
7. Overall Very Cool, Very Surreal Experience From the minute I walked into the reception area and everyone greeted me like I was a dignitary (the first question I was asked was what may I call you? not what is your name?), through being led down the bamboo-lined hallway, seated, wrapped in a gray linen robe, asked what I wanted to drink, shampooed, massaged, cut and dried, there was never a moment I didnt feel welcomed, respected and comfortable. Id often heard that Japanese customer service far surpassed all other hospitality in Asia, and although the people working at the salon all seemed to be Singaporean, the fact that the salon was in Takashimaya (a Japanese high-end department store) really showed. Jenn also gets her hair cut in a Japanese salon and says the service is great (although she doesnt have a human hairclip where she goes).
Made my first visit to Kim Robinson last Sunday, my hair artist was Sha-sha, I just did a minor hair cut a bit disappointed, though the curling skills was good. Was there using complimentary vouchers and hence couldnt shake the feeling that they were recommending me to dye/perm my hair to earn more money
I took advantage of the LOfficiel Magazine promotion and went to Kim Robinson, the most atas place Ill ever go to for a haircut sometime back (here.) However, upon going home and washing out the styling/curls, I decided that it was still too long. Luckily, they gave me a card that promised a free touch-up within 14 days, so I decided to go back and try my luck.
Surprisingly, they were willing to extend the touch-up to a full cut I got a totally different cut. They also styled it very nicely!
But lazy bum me who dont even own a blow-dryer or hair tongs can never get this back on my own. The other recommendation was to go for volume-rebonding to get this effect permanently (well, more like, 4-6 months), but doing it at KR costs $400 plus and Im not ready to spend this amount on my hair.
So Ill just deal with it for now and aim to find somewhere that does similar soft rebonding for about a hundred bucks. Any recommendations?
on the second floor of taka, near the escalator that leads to LV & chanel. kim robinsons the spanking new version of le salon (which i loved to death). its pretty pricey, but i must say the head massages they give when washing your hair is TO DIE FOR. bloody orgasmic i tell you. hahaha. so be it a special treat to yourself when youre stressed, or a present for someone, their wash & blow packages are fantastic pampering sessions. i hear they now have a hair spa too. haha. so you can check it out (: mms, they do pretty good hair-styling too, so if you have a night out.. why not? i usually ask for sophia. shes edgier than the other stylists.. who can get abit erh, flouncy for my liking sometimes. she gets what i like, and so i never end up with a hairstyle that looks as though it belongs to a 60 year old taitai :p so yes. ask for her!