Street Fashionista: The Cut and Color of Coco Chanel
Leslie McAllister shares Edna Siegel's panache - and Panache - with us.
I have walked into many salons in my day. You could say for as shaggy as my hair can look, I am a high-maintenance client. I have this thing about my hair. Now, maybe it's because my mother chopped it off for the first 12 years of my life and strangers referred to me as "little boy." "I have my ears pierced," I would cry, thinking that only girls wore earrings. (This was the early '80s, what was I thinking?) So maybe that's why my color needs to be perfect, and my hair has to be long and flowy. Not too dark, not too light.
When I spend the money for my hair, I like the amenities: a beautiful space, knowledgeable staff, great products, and just that little something more. There exists an element to being around pretty while becoming pretty. It's the experience. The totality. The transformation. Heck, even if you're just getting a simple cut, a root touch up, or a manicure, being immersed in beauty helps us to feel beautiful.
I believe "they" refer to it as the Law of Attraction. Enter Panache, stage right. In moving to the new location owner, Edna Siegel had a vision.
"I wanted the space to flow," she explained, as we talked into the "Relaxation Room." With a fireplace, a map of gay Paris, and fantastic decorating (imagine Coco comes to America), you already don't want to leave the room. Then the intoxicating smells of Thai herbs, like jasmine and lemon grass, roll in and a sense of calm truly rushes over you. "I wanted to use as much of what I already had, so we did some restoration and rethinking," she tells me.
"All of the mirrors came over from the prior location; we just kicked them up with a paint job and some great lettering. We also found some old vintage chairs that we repainted and reupholstered and voila! We did splurge on the shampoo chairs, which come from Italy. I know that my clients don't like to be out in the open when their color is being applied so we came up with this alternative."
No vodka gimlets here, but what they are mixing up is your color and you get to see how that is done. Be sure to check out the cafe bar with your choice of teas, coffees, and fancy waters. Edna told me when she first started back in the '80s with Savoir Chevaux she wanted to take the customers' experiences to a higher level. They massage your back, yep, that's the only way to get your hair washed in my opinion. Another great addition is the stainless steel hair bar. "I was one of the first salons to offer coffee in a porcelain mug, water with lemon, or even a chilled glass of white wine (which you could do back then)" Edna said. Again, you go to a salon to be pampered, why not offer your clients the best of what pampering can bring?
The full service salon flows into the spa services: massages, manicures, pedicures, facials, waxing, lash tinting. I about died when I walked into the spa and saw leopard print carpet – oh la la. "This is the best carpet; I have it at home, it hides everything." I immediately rack my brain as to where I could lay it in my home: incredibly chic and gorgeous and in keeping with the theme: Parisian Glamour. As we circle our way out, we end where we began, in the boutique Lola. "I wanted to have a boutique set apart from the salon. I would have customers come into the old Panache and they felt as though they were interrupting. This way we have a storefront. Clients can come in and shop, make appointments, try on the makeup and test the products." Genius!
And oh, the products – my favorite part. Hair products from Oribe, Bumble & Bumble, and Arrojo; makeup from Kevin Aucoin, nail polish from Butter London, and skin care from Skin Ceuticals. Edna's sister buys all the jewelry and displays them so thoughtfully. What a wonderfully awesome, complete and total experience. "I have always believed in service," Edna said. "'No' is not in our vocabulary at Panache, we always find a way to say 'Yes' to our clients." So say "Hooray!" to a new level of salon and spa in Erie. Hey, Erie – we can have nice things, and guess what, we're worth it!
Who? Edna Siegel
Where? Panache Erie, located in the Yorktown Center.
Why Edna? I love Erie, but I also like to be in Erie and feel like I am in NYC. Edna's salon does just that. "People are always putting Erie down (acting like it is a third-rate city)," she said. "I wanted to not only express my creativity with the 'new' Panache but bring something to Erie that would be as terrific as any salon or spa in the country. With the help from my friend and decorator, Sue Bartlett, I believe we have succeeded in offering the Erie community a space that is beautiful and functional."
Describe your style. "I am an American woman with a French flair. I am classic, but I like to add sparkle. A crisp white blouse, colorful scarf, interesting earrings, and a sassy beret – think Coco Chanel."
Your journey has been extensive; please tell us about it. (P.S. Edna gave me my first perm at age 7). "I started working as a stylist when I was 18. In my family, you were required to continue on to advanced education. I thought I wanted to do nursing because I wanted to help people. Upon closer research, I decided to become a hairdresser. It was still helping people, and I discovered I had a natural gift for it. To this day it is my life's passion. I dream about it." Career wise, Edna worked in other salons for 10 years learning her craft. Many of us Erieites may recall Savoir Chevaux in its two locations (Liberty Avenue and Village West) and Panaches' prior location on West 12th Street. What a savvy businesswoman. Her recipe for success is education, dedication, hard work, and customer service. "I still go to seminars to further my education and I feel that has really helped me to stay on top of the trends and styles." Studying with industry icons like Paul Mitchell, Vidal Sassoon, Nick Arrojo, The TG Team, and many others, Edna has brought modern cuts and colors to the Erie scene.
How has styling changed since you began? "People have become more connected with the world through media and the Internet. They used to sit in the chair and ask the stylist what was best; now they know what they want and we have to be able to meet that expectation. Clients are so much more aware of products and services and Panache wants to be able to provide all of those goodies."
Favorite place to watch the famous Erie sunset? "Honestly, I still work about 60-65 hours a week, so I rarely get to watch the sun set unless I can catch one from the salon – I always tell my out-of-town clients to enjoy them. When I do have a moment, I love to admire them from my condo overlooking the bay. Every time I see one of those beautiful sights I am overwhelmed." We truly don't know how lucky we are."
Three favorite places in Erie? "Panache – it's my life and passion; my home – it's an expression of my style, it's my comfort, and I can see Erie; and any place where my family is – they are my joy!
Panche is located at 2401 W. 12th St. To contact Panache, call 838.3333 or visit PanacheErie.com. Find me out on the town and challenge yourself to get noticed by the Erie Reader!