Lebel and Crowe
Lebel and Crowe is easy to miss from the West Queen West street-side, squirreled away up a long, narrow staircase and in the back of a high-ceilinged, white-washed loft space. Open since July, they're announced by a chalkboard sign on the sidewalk--a degree of privacy that suits the owners just fine.
The pet project of ex-Grateful Head hairdressers Jesse Crowe and Emily Lebel, the space is a homey, comfortable reprise that satisfied their need for something more casual. "We wanted it to feel like going to a friend's apartment," Crowe explains. They left Grateful Head shortly after the move to Roncesvalles (with the break having been "mostly amicable").
The especially loyal clients have followed them to their new digs, while others have remained with Grateful Head--signs of a smooth split, if there ever was one. The business "has been busy enough to sustain itself, but relaxed enough that we're never stressed out," Crowe tells me.
Make no mistake: the space is petite. There'll be no rapid turnover and conveyor belt haircuts here--there are two cutting stations, a small bench for significant others to sit on and observe the cuts, a single ergonomically placed washing station, and a back door to nowhere. They're planning a patio for next spring, I'm told. Photographs and artwork by their friends and local artists span a wall, and there's even a pseudo-pornographic pillow.
Between the two of them, they seem to have their haircutting and colouring bases covered. Crowe specializes in colour, and particularly colour changes--having worked with L'Oreal Professional--and men's haircuts (colour, for the most part, yields women, and it's nice to change up the genders in your chair, I'm told), whereas Lebel is known for women's cuts, and has previously trained with Aveda. Their clients range from 4 to 65 years old, but they're all "pretty relaxed."
They exclusively use and sell Kevin Murphy products ($20-$40) and L'Oreal Professional colour products. Particularly delightful is the basket of Kevin Murphy colour bugs ($20), a temporary pastel colour that rubs on and washes off without any damage.
The cost is, as with many salons in the area, arguably pricey. They divide their women's cuts by short ($55) and long ($65), justifying the price difference by the quantity of products used, while men's haircuts are an even $45. For those of us who are constantly plagued by hair in our eyes, bang trims are, miraculously, free.
Colour ranges from $70 (and up) for a root touch-up, to $80 (and up) for a full colour, to full highlights beginning at $125. Then, there's the entirely different class of colour correction ($200+) and colour lightening ($125+), with initial consults required for both.
As Crowe describes the intensive colour change process, I'm reminded of my own quick-change from deep black to white-blonde several years ago--over 4 hours of searing scalp pain that still didn't yield the ideal result and required a return visit; suffice to say that you shouldn't expect miracles, no matter where you go. They also offer styling services, ranging from $75 for upstyle, to full ($400) and half-day ($250) styling rates, but you won't find any extension, straightening, or perming services.
Lebel and Crowe's hours are a bit unpredictable, and it's best to call or book an appointment online beforehand. They take walk-ins, but chances are, if they're not already doing a haircut or colour, they might not be there. Just like your friend's apartment, indeed.