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Shoptalk: Fifi Mahony's 

  It takes a certain type of customer to don the s, a 2-foot, snowflake-topped confection of synthetic green hair, glitter and tiny presents. Marcy Hesseling, owner of wig, cosmetics and accessories shop Fifi Mahony's (934 Royal St., 525-4343;, says she sells at least one each year.

click to enlarge Fifi Mahony's stylist Jamie Gandy (left) and owner Marcy Hesseling will open a new salon in early 2011.
  • Fifi Mahony's stylist Jamie Gandy (left) and owner Marcy Hesseling will open a new salon in early 2011.

  "The first time we ever made one, we cracked up and said, 'That is never going to sell,'" Hesseling says. "But there are people who want a Christmas tree wig. If you get a good weirdo and they look good in wigs and they aren't afraid to try stuff, those are the best customers."

  Hesseling's 1,700-square-foot shop, housed in a pre-Civil War-era building whose previous residents include General P.G.T. Beauregard, is a mashup of disco balls, chandeliers, peacock feathers, gilt-edged photographs of Marilyn Monroe and marble fireplaces and ceiling medallions original to the building. It's a pastiche of colors and styles in which everything seems to sparkle a little bit, either from the fantasy element, spilled glitter or a combination of the two. Within its lavender walls, wigs run a similar gamut, from basic to fantastic.

  "Wearing a wig is not the taboo it used to be," says Hesseling, who points out that many customers opt for wigs to conceal a bad hair day or test-drive a new style. "Some people want to try being a blonde or a redhead, or they have short hair and really want long hair. And we can teach people how to wear a wig — the little tricks of the trade."

  Customers who want more long-term modification to their tresses will have a new option as of January 2011: Fifi Mahony's is opening a salon that will offer haircuts, color services, feather extensions and manicures. "So often when people try on a wig, they want to try that color. So it kind of works (to open a salon). It is a whole fluid carry-through — wigs and hair and makeup," Hesseling says.

  Renovations are underway in the back room that will house the salon. Stylist Jamie Gandy says with black chandeliers and black and gold chairs, the salon will have a noir, rock 'n' roll vibe.

  "We are definitely going to be a little more fashion forward. We do have a fantasy bent to what we offer," Hesseling says. "People lose touch with reality, and that's what we want. The thing about New Orleans is you can get away with a lot in this city."


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