Cigar Aficionado

Truman's Gentlemen's Groomers

Sleek modern decor rules at Truman's Gentlemen's Groomers. But that's the only thing Truman's has in common with salons populated by haircutters who holster blow-dryers on their hips. This New York City (for lack of a better word) salon is the return to the tradition of full-service pampering for a man.

Barber stylist Brett reclines the chair nearly flat and begins that time-honored masculine ritual: the shave. First comes the hot towel. He follows it with a skin-softening oil, maybe one with a subtle hint of almond. Then he applies pre-lather and another hot towel. By the time hot shave lather meets the face and Brett slips a blade into his straight razor, the client is on the verge of sleep.

Steps from Park Avenue's corporate row, Truman's opened earlier this year, the creation of a group of MBAs who, naturally, researched men's grooming needs and habits. Setting up this operation was not easy. The six staffers were culled from a hundred applicants. Truman's drilled them in men's grooming techniques.

"It's difficult to cut men's hair," says co-owner John Esposito Jr. "Shorter styles accentuate shape of head and face so there's less margin for error." The just shorn look is not the style, he adds.

Truman's markets the philosophy that good grooming provides a man with a competitive edge in the business world. A nail biter's handshake hardly makes a good impression. Truman's delicately refers to its manicures as handshake maintenance. Don't worry, even clear polish will not be offered. Screens throughout the shop ensure privacy. A neck wax to complement close-cropped hair, or a discussion of coloring possibilities? It's all strictly between client and stylist.

A whiff of the old school remains. Kick off those wingtips and they'll be whisked downstairs for a buffing. Shaves and shoe shines are popular before dinner, when Truman's will also wash and style a client's hair. Feel free to step up to the bar for a cocktail or a beer.

Clients have certainly embraced the razor. Shaves account for 20 percent of business. Brett wields the blade at a 45 degree angle and varies it as required. He shaves along the grain of the beard. A cool towel finishes the treatment. The result: baby-smooth cheeks.

Some men prefer a late shave before an evening that holds romantic possibilities. One client appears every Monday at 10:15 a.m. Does he want to start the workweek with a fresh, smooth face? Or is he looking for rejuvenation after a heavy party schedule?

Visit or call 212-759-5015.