Classic Cuts: NYC Barbershops
by Jeremy Lehrer, 01/30/2013
Photo: Stephen Zuccato
Paul Molé Barbershop
1031 Lexington Ave., 212-535-8461, Upper East Side, Manhattan
The new film version of The Great Gatsby proves that our contemporary fascination with earlier ages of style remains a vibrant cultural drive. The main character of the book—or its writer—might very well have gotten his hair cut at Paul Molé, which will celebrate its 100th anniversary this year. The shop certainly has the corresponding patina of history, with its portraits of well-known clients from several eras: among them, Henry Fonda, Dan Rather, Mikhail Baryshnikov and Benny Goodman. Framed clippings similarly evoke decades past. A 1967 newspaper article reporting on an emerging hairstyle has the headline, "John-John: King of the Mopheads."
Though the shop may be venerable, the barbers, some of whom speak several languages (to accommodate an international clientele), are skilled in a variety of styles. "It's not just traditional, it's modern cuts as well," says Elizabeth Stuckler, a 22-year veteran. There are 12 chairs here, plus a diminutive one for children, as well as multiple barber's poles spread throughout the space. Though the business is almost a century old, it has bopped around a few blocks of Lexington Avenue over the years, arriving in its current space last April. And talk about longevity: owner Adrian Wood took over the shop in the '70s, and some of the barbers have been here for several decades.