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What's in store: Fifi Mahony's 

The store celebrates its 20th anniversary

click to enlarge French Quarter coiffeur Fifi Mahony's and owner Marcy Hesseling will celebrate the shop's 20th anniversary in 2018.

Photo by Karla Photography

French Quarter coiffeur Fifi Mahony's and owner Marcy Hesseling will celebrate the shop's 20th anniversary in 2018.

From Designing light-up Christmas tree wigs to hosting an anniversary party on Twelfth Night at One Eyed Jacks on Jan. 6, Fifi Mahony's (934 Royal St., 504-525-4343; www.fifimahonys.com) is kicking off its 20th year with as much glitz and glam as would be expected from the famously over-the-top wig shop.

 After gaining experience working on wigs for theater performers in Atlanta, owner Marcy Hesseling traveled to San Francisco, where she became friends with (and learned some secrets from) Chris March, a costume and fashion designer for celebrities including Meryl Streep and Beyonce.

 "That really got me thinking about doing wigs for a living," Hesseling says. In 1996, she and her husband moved to New Orleans. They later opened Fifi Mahony's, and the rest is hair history.

 "It's such a great place for us because New Orleans is such a costume-y city," she says. "It was just a perfect fit." While the shop is known mostly for extravagant custom wigs, Hesseling says Fifi's also supplies natural-looking wigs to customers experiencing hair loss.

 Hesseling says the store also "educates [tourists] about how to get crazy" and caters to Mardi Gras krewes such as Muses and Nyx. In the 20 years since she opened Fifi's, Hesseling has seen the growth of the wig trend.

 "There's the whole phenomenon," she says. "It's girls' night out, and everyone goes and gets a wig."

 At Fifi's, a girls' day could mean a few things, from a bachelorette party to the day of a wedding.

 "We do after-hours parties where the girls come in, bring champagne and try on different wigs," she says. "We put lashes and glitter on (the customers), and they roll out ready to party all night. ... We also do a lot of weddings, where the whole wedding party gets ready here."

 Hesseling's shop is prepared for all kinds of clients. The main room "with all the wigs and crazy stuff" is in the front, the salon is in the back and there's a private room for customers who prefer to keep their wigs a secret. Hesseling says coming into the shop is the most important aspect of Fifi Mahony's.

 "There's a lot of stuff online you can order ... but you can't really get a great wig experience without trying stuff on," she says.

 The lighthearted atmosphere at Fifi's brings out the fun side of the clientele. Hesseling recalls one of the many times fitness guru Richard Simmons dropped by the store.

 "You would hear him before he even came in because he would start singing outside," she says. "He was hilarious." Hesseling remembers Simmons purchasing a wig for a client undergoing chemotherapy. "He bought (wigs for) three other people and walks out wearing this crazy custom wig. It was like he was the Pied Piper. ... There was a parade behind him afterwards. ... We're crazy in here, but he made us look tame."

 Hesseling says New Orleans is the perfect city for a place like Fifi's, and even after 20 years, "It's still fun to me."

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