"My raison d'etre ... was to build the best barber shop in the world," says Aidan Gill, who moved to New Orleans in 1988. He has decorated his shop with antique shaving accoutrements he collected over the past three decades and stocks his shelves with men's products that have been revered for eons as well as modern scents and skin-care formulas from makers such as Anthony, Logistics and Bullie.
"A lot of the companies that we deal with have been in business for over 200 years, so the products that we sell are reflecting development over the years," he says. Aidan Gill For Men sells straight razors, which have been in use for centuries and provide a close shave, but also recommends beautiful modern razors that accommodate Gillette Mach 3 blades, which Gill considers the best around, and badger-hair shaving brushes.
In the back of the shop Gill and another barber give haircuts and traditional 30-minute shaves that include using a total of seven hot towels pulled from Gill's antique chrome towel heater, and soothing balms and oils to condition the skin.
Like other businesses that have reopened after Hurricane Katrina, providing the level of service before the storm has been a challenge. Not only has Gill lost 60 percent of his barber staff, he's serving new customers whose regular barbers have not reopened as well as visitors in town to help with rebuilding. Because of problems finding qualified staff, it could take customers longer than before to get an appointment, he says.
Here's To Life
Developer/hotelier Sean Cummings has declared his boutique hotels International House and Loft 523 to be no-smoking establishments and even charges customers $200 if they smoke in their rooms. Cummings says the new policy reflects what boutique hotel visitors seek. "Our guests want an experience," he says. "It is a lifestyle purchase. ... In (New Orleans') music, its food, its architecture, on the riverfront, in our culture, there's a passion for world-class excellence. No Smoking is one big step we're taking to further boost the length and quality of life in America's most soulful city."