An unsubstantiated rumour; every peluqueria (barbershop) in Buenos Aires has a picture of Rod Stewart as a reference for men’s haircuts. Feathered and playful on top with devil-may-care length in the back. The hair-style of a rock ’n’ roll sex god from yesteryear, not necessarily today. Yet this style still persists in Argentina in 2016.
Of course, fashion and style is culturally relative, which is why the ‘mullet’ hairstyles of legendary rock figures such as Rod Stewart, David Bowie, Keith Richards, Ronnie Woods and others associated with the rolinga subculture has reigned supreme for so long in Argentina. If not careful, the unsuspecting tourist or expat may walk into a peluqueria and come out with a newly minted mullet.
In a recent post (Best Tattoo Shops in Buenos Aires), we discussed the trend of quality tattoo shops rising in Buenos Aires. This trend is linked with the rise of rockabilly fashion and has resulted in many quality barbershops (specializing in classic men’s haircuts) popping up around the city. Here are a few of our favourites:
Soler 4775, Palermo
Men’s cuts, shaves and beard trims, Peluqueria Barberin offers the full barbershop experience. The shop is beautifully designed; with its exposed brickwork and antique dressing tables, it has the feel of a hip antique store in Williamsburg, New York. Hipster aesthetics aside, the barbers here know their trade; they can cut a slick pompadour or sculpt facial hair to perfection.
The Barber Job
Callao 1861, Recoleta or Arevalo 2843, Las Cañitas
The Barber Job in Las Cañitas is something of a gentleman’s club. Antique chairs from the 1920s, a bar serving coffees, beers or whiskeys. The barbers here take their art seriously, evoking the feel of the typical English barber shops; hotel towels, special beard trimming knives and the art of conversation.
Gorriti 5781, Palermo Hollywood
La Biaba is run by the sole barber and owner Richard, a Uruguayan national who is charming, skilled and will give you a tidy haircut. The atmosphere is local and congenial; listen to tango and chat with neighbours who drop by just to shoot the breeze. La Biaba doesn’t take appointments, service is on a first-come-first-served basis.
Buenos Aires Barbershop
Cordoba 2561, Olivos
Buenos Aires Barbershop is a highly professional shop, tastefully decorated with a lot of light. While you wait for a cut, you can listen to records, drink a coffee and kill time on the Playstation. The vibe is like that of a really great loft apartment of a hip, young tech entrepreneur who happens to have housemates who cut great hair. See photos of the cuts here (https://www.facebook.com/buenosairesbarbershop/photos).
Humbodlt 1411, Palermo
Salon Berlin, located inside a quaint terrace house in Palermo Hollywood, is a barbershop by day, bar by night. The decor is a mix of a traditional gentleman’s club meets tough-guy Americana. Fernando, the owner, looks the part; slick hair, well-kept beard, tattoos. Friendly, skilled and also speaks English. Get a fresh cut, hit the bar and enjoy a drink on the rooftop terrace.
Paraguay 4387, Palermo
For a cheap, no frills yet dependable cut, Ricci Pastro’s tiny barbershop is the way to go. A skateboarding and motorcycle enthusiast, the unpretentious shop is decorated in skate decks and pictures of vintage bikes. At AR$130 (in May 2016), this peluqueria is very economical and a good option for the man who wants a simple cut.
A cornerstone barber of the barbershop resurgence in Argentina, Chopper has opened up his own shop as of July 2016. He is well known and respected in the community and a bit of an icon after being featured in a few magazines and ads for the popular Argentine clothing brand ‘Bolivia”. 1950’s motorcycle club style cuts, hot towel straight razor shaves and maybe an ice cold beer while you wait if the shop is busy.
Guayaquil 877, Caballito
La Época is the most beautiful of these barbershops and worth a visit for the atmosphere alone. You can feel the romantic reverence for the neighbourhood’s history in tango from the moment you walk in. The salon and attached cafe/bar are decorated with an impressive collection of antiques (over ten thousand individual pieces), giving it the authentic Old World feel of many of the city’s famous cafe notables such as La Poesia and El Federal. Unlike the touristic atmosphere of those cafe notables, La Época is very much a local establishment. On Friday afternoons an amateur group of tango enthusiasts – grandmothers and grandfathers mostly – gather at La Época to sing tango favourites.
In terms of cuts, the owner Miguel (known as the Count of Caballito) wears a golden vest reminiscent of the barbers in the film Sweeney Todd. His partner Ignacio can give you a good professional trim or shave; just don’t expect the more stylish pompadours and cuts that the above-mentioned barbers can provide.
La Época is worth a visit even if you’re not looking for a haircut. The straight razor shave is a wonderful experience; hundred year old barber chairs, tango music, gilded mirrors, a museum like setting. It’s part of our Man Tour, where we take you to some of the older neighbourhoods for a shave, drinks, traditional Argentinian pizza, empanadas and Cuban cigars.
Finally, for those of you with limited Spanish, here’s a few helpful words and phrases next time you visit the peluqueria.
short hair: pelo corto
long hair: pelo largo
just a trim: solo las puntas
a little (more/less): un poco (más/menos)
a lot: mucho
the back of my hair: la parte atras
the part (ie where you part your hair): partidura