Were Beau Brummell visiting New York today, he would certainly seek out Ludlow Blunt, Ladies and Gents Salon in Williamsburg Brooklyn. Beau Brummell was a notorious 18th-century arbiter of men’s fashion and famous for coining the term “Dandy” to define himself and other similarly disposed gentlemen, highly attuned to fashion and grooming. He would have found the “De Lux Hot & Cold Towel Wet shave” the perfect way to relax and rejuvenate the senses, and not much different from similar treatments common in the grooming establishments he would have frequented in 18th century London.
Ludlow Blunt is the brainchild of British expat Russell Manley. Russ, as everyone calls him, is a veteran of the grooming industry. He opened his first shop in the English seaside town of Brighton, before moving to London and taking over a turn of the century (that’s the 19th century) barber shop in SoHo and renaming it “Tommy Gun”. Tommy Gun quickly became the go-to grooming destination for London’s In-crowd.
I would characterize Russ as a bit of a classic dandy himself. A tall gent and keen dresser, the day of our meeting he wore a fabulous hat, custom made by an LA milliner, a bespoke linen jacket with just the right amount of bagginess, and linen pants. All looked quite understated and well broken in. The look was part explorer, part landed gentry.
In the mid-nineties, after a successful run in London’s Soho, he was ready for a new challenge and struck out once more, this time venturing a bit further, all the way to New York’s Lower East Side. Always with an eye on future trends, Russ made the move to Williamsburg to help the burgeoning dandy class of Brooklyn.
Russ has a real talent for establishing a sense of authenticity, especially in his environments. I think great spaces are a careful balance between context and vision, taking the existing conditions and making something new out of them. And most important, knowing when to stop. Not much different to what makes a great haircut, so no wonder Russ excels here.
A Hot Towel Shave in Williamsburg, Brooklyn
The Williamsburg space started out as nothing more than a white sheetrock box. Visiting today you would never guess it because Ludlow Blunt looks as if it always existed on this spot. To achieve this bit of interior alchemy Russ started by tracking down an original 1870s American drugstore interior in North Carolina, crafted by one of the finest commercial fittings makers of the time, the Reine-Salmon Co of Baltimore. The rare Cuban mahogany cabinetry was in pristine condition and virtually untouched. Adding to this, Russ acquired a variety of salvaged electrical fixtures, antique lamps, and antique barber chairs, authentic right down to the footrest. Now Russ’ hard work has paid off with customers flocking to Ludlow Blunt for its unique combination of turn-of-the-century character and traditional grooming services that the modern world has done little to improve upon.
A testament to the authentic barbershop character Ludlow Blunt exudes is borne out by the regular attention of location scouts from various film and TV productions who show up on Russ’ threshold. The likes of Martin Scorsese, Oliver Stone, and Robert De Niro have all taken advantage of Ludlow Blunt for their movies. And most recently, Steve Buscemi shot a few scenes for Boardwalk Empire.
The De Lux Hot & Cold Towel Wet shave takes about 45 minutes and you will emerge clean-faced, moisturized, relaxed and rejuvenated … or so I am told. A real treat for the modern day dandy.
It is time to plan a trip to Williamsburg for a cut and shave? Here is the current weather and what to expect for the next few days.27°clear59% humiditywind: 9mph NWH 41 • L 2650°Thu59°Fri55°Sat42°Sun42°MonWeather from Yahoo!