In my list of answers to, “Why go to Copenhagen?” Cim Mahony and his hair studio rank very high. Maybe you haven’t heard of him (yet), but you’ve undoubtedly seen his work. He did Kylie Jenner’s hair for last month’s Allure cover, that WSJ fashion story where Frederikke Sofie’s hair completely took over (and had to take a moment and ponder whether or not perms would become a thing again), plus a few lovely things for my favorite Holiday magazine, i-D, and more. He’s part of the Scandinavian crowd that’s cool in all the ways most New Yorkers are not: Chill, with the work/life balance thing on lock, and, most importantly, and they don't live in New York. (Though Cim does have a Tribeca pied-à-terre, but whatever.) It's a crowd that includes Camilla Åkrans, Hasse Nielsen, Trine Skjøth, etc. If you don't know who they are, take a minute to familiarize yourself. Thank me later!
Back to Cim. We met him through Pernille Teisbaek, whose endorsement is not something anyone should take lightly. In a city full of very chic women, she is one the chicest and her haircut one of the most notable. At his studio in Copenhagen's Vesterbro, he explains to me his career as a "session hairstylist."
"I grew up in a salon environment, my mom was a hairdresser with her own salon and we lived above it. Something about it got under my skin. When I started training, I started doing ‘competition hairdressing’—it’s sort of like ballroom dancing, so I got pretty good pretty fast. I ended up going to London, because at that time I felt Vidal Sassoon was the pinnacle of everything hair and I wanted to be a part of it. This was also the era of the '90s supermodels. I ended up filling in backstage with Cindy, Linda, and Christy, and that’s where I saw the tension and the excitement of the work backstage, creating something under that pressure. From that moment on I caught ‘session’ bug and within a year and a half I was doing all sorts of things, shooting Italian Vogue, things that now would take 10 years." That’s why his studio is just that: a studio. It's homebase for him, and only seems to benefit from everything else on his plate.
When he decided to open up his own space, it took him five years to perfect. The end result bears no resemblance to any standard hair salon I’ve ever seen. "I wanted to have a place that would be different from your standard salon...something closer to a home," he told me. "We looked at a lot of really grand apartments, but they didn’t really have any soul. And a lot of them didn’t have great light—you need to have great natural light when you're doing hair. And we made the agreement that we would do it bit by bit, room by room. And we’re still nowhere near finished yet. It’s been a really interesting journey."
Somehow, in all it’s grandeur and magnificence and fancy teaware, the studio still feels homey. You could definitely hang out there in sweatpants and sneakers and it would be OK (although the way Danish do sweatpants and sneakers is on a very different level than the way Americans do it). That feeling is more important than you might think—it’s not like anyone feels particularly great about themselves once they’ve got their hair slicked down and a hairdresser’s cape on. It also helps that Cim approaches his client relationships less like a hairstylist and more like a hair therapist, too. "Talking about your hair with your hairdresser should be an intimate thing. When you lose that intimacy, you lose a huge part of the service that you can give to that person."
The studio's design elements are minimal but personable, which seems to be the flavor of Copenhagen. It’s a mix of things; wallpaper that looks as if it should be in a museum (because it is: Cim had to get permission from the source museum to use it); a blown-up still from Lars Von Trier’s Nymphomaniac; Takara Japanese salon chairs; bursts of green marble. Cim is a big fan of Svenskt Tenn, too.
And, of course, there're hair products. Like some ornately beautiful Mason Pearson brushes next to an assortment of Less is More, a Scandinavian line of organic haircare not yet available in the US. With the space I had free from all the Glossier I smuggled, I managed to bring back some—the Limesoufflé Gel-Wax is great for curly hair especially, but every single product smells amazing. Definitely for the Dr. Hauschka audience, with a bit more styling options than John Masters, and absolutely worth checking out if you find yourself in Denmark. Which should not be so hard, seeing as round trip tickets for Norwegian Air are about $550 if you check now looking into October.
Photographed by the author.
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