Hairstyling becomes latest art exhibit at Arts, Beats & Eats

By: Robert Guttersohn | Royal Oak Review | Published September 1, 2014

 Julie Nicolou, the owner of Aqua Salon, dances while dressed in the style of the 1940s.

Julie Nicolou, the owner of Aqua Salon, dances while dressed in the style of the 1940s.

Photo by Robert Guttersohn

Among the paintings and sculptures that filled downtown Royal Oak during the Labor Day weekend for Arts, Beats & Eats, a new art medium took center stage: hair fashion.

Throughout the weekend, some of the city’s hair salons took over various stages to put on hair shows.

The new installation, dubbed Hair City, was announced in June with the intention of giving the salons, which generally are closed during the annual event, a chance to brand themselves in front of the crowds descending on the city for Arts, Beats & Eats.

In addition to the shows, mannequin model exhibits were placed on street corners.  

“Usually, we would just close down for the whole duration of the festival,” said Julie Nicolou, the owner of the Aqua Salon. “Now we can showcase what we do, because hairstyling is a form of art. It’s all about fun and showstopping hairstyles.”

The Aqua hair show highlighted the changes in styles from the 1940s to the present, taking over the Ford Alternative Stage Aug. 30.

In addition to the hairstyles, her models, made up of both stylists and frequent clients, dressed in clothes and danced to music representing the various eras.

Sara Van Sickle, a client who was dressed up in the style of the 1950s, said an employee of the salon told her about the hair show.

“I really had no idea what I was getting into, but it was really nice to see all the different ages of styles,” she said.

L’Esprit Academy, which also participated in Hair City, was one of the rare salons in the heart of Arts, Beats & Eats that had left its doors open since Arts, Beats & Eats moved to Royal Oak five years ago.

“We’ve always kind of benefited from staying open,” said Matthew Richmond, the marketing manager for the salon.

Richmond said they’ve even had perennial visitors to Arts, Beats & Eats visit L’Esprit every year for the free items the salon was handing out.

This year was the first time the salon continued taking appointments during the festival, using the addition of Hair City shows to further showcase what the salon offers.