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A Manhattan Salon Avoids the Cruelest Cut by Stressing Hair Today and More Tomorrow

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Hair does fall at the George Michael salon in midtown Manhattan, but most of it never reaches the floor. Rather, it tumbles, Niagara-like, over shoulders and down backs and often below—way below—the waist. “I love long hair,” says owner Maria Matarazzo, whose own silver, Rapunzel-like locks reach below her hips. “I am tormented by salons where everyone says, ‘Cut, cut, cut.’ ”

For $90, a long-haired client can have a consultation and split-end treatment with Matarazzo or founder George Michael. And included among the celeb clients whose photos adorn the wall are Crystal Gayle, Judy Collins, Faye Dunaway and Liv Ullmann.

As fashions changed and the long, straight hair of the late ’60s gave way to shorter, layered cuts, women who chose not to cut became an endangered species. “People say, ‘It must take you a whole day to shampoo and dry,’ but it doesn’t,” says client Elinor Cartagena, 30. “Short hair seems much more trouble because you have to put it in rollers or blow-dry it.”

But, of course, there are risks with really long hair. “I was on the up escalator at Bloomingdale’s once,” says Pearl Parsells, “and the ends of my hair got caught in an umbrella belonging to a man who was heading down. I had to back down along with him.” At the salon, cutting hair, no matter how long, is an act of last resort. “Any piece of cut hair that’s longer than three inches must be collected and tied with a ribbon and given to the client,” says Michael, 71, a Russian émigré who opened the shop in 1960 and sold it to Matarazzo last year. “That is how much we respect hair.”