The Growing Recognition Of The Costume Wigs
I’m solely four-eleven, so I should put on heels,” she stated.
One other testament to the random nature of life is that Ms. Tanaka, 39, who grew up in Japan with no knowledge of Jewish tradition, now specializes in styling costly wigs worn by ultra-Orthodox Jewish girls seeking to conform to the requirement of religious regulation to cowl their hair after marriage.
“They call me the Japanese sheitel macher,” she stated, utilizing a Yiddish time period for wig seller. Ms. Tanaka doesn’t communicate Yiddish and she doesn’t even sell wigs, however she has develop into the stylist to see for a certain set of moneyed ladies who observe a tradition often related to modesty, even if the wig costs can prime $5,000.
Looking modest is not a strong suit here at the Julien Farel salon on Madison Avenue, where Ms. Tanaka works. A wash-cut-blow dry for a wig can take greater than two hours, and her costs start at $450.
“They’re paying an excessive amount of for modesty,” Ms. Tanaka stated. “My shoppers need me to cover their head with something that appears higher than their own hair.”
These weeks before Passover, which begins on March 25, are her busiest of the 12 months. Final weekend, she was flown to Toronto to type wigs at an extremely-Orthodox wedding ceremony. Out-of-town jobs are widespread, as are house calls. She is consistently ferried by automotive service to model wigs in private homes in the Five Towns on Long Island or in Brooklyn or Monsey, N.Y.
Then there are the clients who simply have their wigs driven in. It’s not unusual for a black automotive with a driver to pull up with a wig in a box within the back seat, Ms. Tanaka stated, and the identical driver will pull up a few days later to select up the wig, styled and in a carrier box.
One latest weekday, Ms. Tanaka was working on a wig being worn by Pesha Blum, 27, a fashion publicist who lives on the Upper West Facet and who mentioned her wig of “European virgin undyed” hair price roughly $5,000.
The sleek salon is a far cry from the basement beauty salons of “sheitel ladies” in extremely-Orthodox enclaves in Brooklyn, where many wig-wearing women go. On Ms. Tanaka’s counter one latest weekday have been a number of head-shaped stands that supported wigs whose combined costs might cowl a down fee on a starter residence.
Ms. Tanaka has dealt with some excessive-pressure hairdos — working on Japanese and Saudi princesses, and celebrities like Scarlett Johansson and Marisa Tomei — however nothing is scarier, she stated, than cutting a wig.
“The toughest part is that you can not mess up — the hair is not going to develop again,” mentioned Ms. Tanaka, who had simply completed shaping a $7,000 wig. “You make one mistake, and it is ruined.”
Now she was engaged on a wig worn by Rivka Cohen, 25, of the Higher West Side. Ms. Tanaka, whose tiny palms appear properly-suited for styling shears, shaved strands and snipped ends of wig hair, at all times in small takes.
“In case you spend hundreds of dollars on a wig and the stylist botches the coloration, you’re not going to come back,” Ms. Cohen stated.
And this is the place Ms. Tanaka’s Japanese background comes in.
“These women know I am from Japan so I should be good — it is our tradition, we must be precise,” she said. “They’re bringing their tradition to me, so I wish to bring my culture to them.”
Ms. Tanaka lives in Tenafly, N.J. with her husband — he is Jewish, however hardly religious — and their 6-yr-outdated daughter. Beginning out as a teenager, Ms. Tanaka storing wigs apprenticed in salons in Tokyo. She had by no means cut a wig or had a Jewish shopper when she came to New York at 22. But she realized the ropes working for Mark Garrison, a well known stylist whose East Aspect salon focuses on excessive-end wigs.
Quickly, her identify bought round, and now all her enterprise comes by phrase of mouth. Ms. Blum stated her hairstylist in Israel recommended Ms. Tanaka.
“You spend $5,000 on a wig — you do not need to mess round with it,” Ms. Blum mentioned. “We do not should put on a wig out of modesty. We do it as a result of it is what God desires us to do.”
Then she checked out Ms. Tanaka to clarify, however acquired only a shrug.
“Do not ask me,” Ms. Tanaka mentioned with that acquainted mischievous twinkle in her eye.
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