By Ralph Novak
April 29, 1974 12:00 PM

If the fashion-setting women’s hairdressers are men, then shouldn’t the most modish men’s barbers be women? It was a gimmick whose time had to come, and the first to exploit it was a former Chanel model and jet-set starlet named Jackie Rogers. Though other female barbers have since cut a swath across the country, the Madison Avenue establishment of Ms. Jackie is still to gents what Mr. Kenneth is to ladies.

Obviously it is not the typical $3-a-haircut shop with naked-girl calendars on bathroom-porcelain walls. It is rather a reeking-with-chic, $18 per hairstyling, leopard rug and bamboo wall, three-floor tonsorial boutique. Her clientele includes Tom Jones, Robert Indiana, Herbie Mann, Paul McCartney, Bill Blass and Dustin Hoffman. “I think men come here because it’s a high for them,” she explains. “And that’s because I’m very high myself most of the time. I’m around people who aren’t downers, who are doing things. Of course there’s also a certain amount of snob appeal in coming here. Why Gucci and all of that? I mean, my dear, this is just where it’s at and people want to be in on it.”

Where hair is at Jackie Rogers’ these days is shorter. She is chief designer at her shop but no longer personally trims hair (just as Le Corbusier never poured concrete). Only scissors are used, because Jackie is convinced that razor cutting causes the dreaded split end. Herbal treatments are also as out now as greasy kid stuff. “Men are returning to a sense of normality about their hair,” she says. “At first long hair was a novelty and some guys wanted permanent waves, nets and rollers. Today hair is neatly groomed.”

Though she looks like a slightly sleeker Sophia Loren, Jackie was born 42 years ago in Brookline, Mass. After studying acting at the University of Miami (Fla.), she wound up modeling for Coco in Paris. Jackie also had a cameo film career in 8½ after barging into the Rome office of director Federico Fellini, closing the door and beginning to take off her clothes. Finally, in 1968, after the dolce vita had soured for her, Jackie borrowed the stake to go into the barbering business. She had noted that many men, caught up in the peacock revolution, were resorting to women’s beauty parlors.

In an era when hairdressers of all sexes are privy to more confessions than parish priests, Jackie has heard enough from her customers to conclude that “marriage is alien to me.” She was wed once, for three months, to a childhood sweetheart and had a publicized fling with actor Rod Steiger. Presently, she says self-analytically, she finds herself “getting involved with men there’s no hope with. They’re either too young, married or too screwed up. I understand why J. Paul Getty said he hadn’t had any success with women because he was too successful in his business. When a guy’s on his ass, women love it. But once he makes it, they can’t handle the situation.”

All that anti-Landers lovelorn philosophy aside, it is primarily successful men whom Jackie cultivates in the soirees she hosts at her ten-room Park Avenue apartment—and particularly at the shop. (She critiques several prominent noncustomers at right.) Jackie is proud of and encourages, for example, the regular patronage of the senior senator from New York, Jacob Javits, “even though he only has three hairs.”