This Is Ralph Lauren’s Barber

Clemente Dimonda climbed into the barber chair, explaining how he got here to function a barbershop in Manhattan, and to chop the hair of a era of males’s put on executives, together with Ralph Lauren. “I used to work on Jamaica Avenue,” in Queens, Mr. Dimonda mentioned. “One of many previous males, Sicilian man, he used to work within the store the place I used to work.”

Within the tales of Mr. Dimonda, who’s from Naples, barbering is full of moments of excessive drama. In his Italian-accented English, he went on: “Someday, this man seize me by the jacket like this” — Mr. Dimonda seized his go well with vest with each palms — “and he say, ‘Have a look at me!’ I say, ‘I take a look at you!’ He say, ‘You’re too certified for this space. You bought to go to New York. You make some huge cash.’”

The barber raised his finger and poked the air to complete: “I always remember.”

That was 50 years in the past. In the present day, Mr. Dimonda nonetheless wields a pair of scissors at age 85. He’s identified for giving what he calls a “gentleman minimize, no loopy look, excessive class, clean-cut,” and for utilizing old school provides like witch hazel, cotton necklaces to catch unfastened hair and monogrammed capes.

Designed by Mr. Lauren and somewhat unusually tucked into the eighth flooring of the Polo Ralph Lauren headquarters at 650 Madison Avenue, Mr. Dimonda’s operation appears, as one buyer described it, like “the form of a barbershop you’d anticipate to see on an ocean liner within the ’30s.”

As Mr. Lauren’s enterprise grew and he turned busier, it was tougher for him to interrupt his workday to go to Mr. Dimonda, he mentioned: “I requested, How would he like a barbershop? I constructed him a classical barbershop. There’s no hire. It was handy for me and good for Clemente as a result of I mentioned if he needs any accounts to return in, that’s superb with me.”

Mr. Dimonda initially had hassle adjusting to the transfer into the Ralph Lauren workplaces, 27 years in the past. He felt that some staff didn’t perceive his stature within the commerce, or why he was of their pantry utilizing the espresso machine.

He recalled: “One of many women — she was an enormous shot, now she’s out — she say, ‘Oh, too many individuals over right here.’ Later, when she noticed me and Ralph stroll down the road collectively, then she turn out to be my greatest pal.”

Mr. Dimonda smiled as he remembered the triumph: “Now she is aware of who’s Clemente. Who’s a barber who bought this sort of relationship with the clientele?”

In recent times, a few of Ralph Lauren’s younger feminine staff have adopted Mr. Dimonda as a grandfather determine. They created and run his Instagram account, and cease in to see him throughout work hours. Jessica Malot, a graphic designer for Polo Ralph Lauren, has visited Mr. Dimonda at house on Lengthy Island, the place he lives alone as a widower, to assist him cling drapes.

White-haired and bushy-mustached, compact and courtly, Mr. Dimonda at all times wears a tailor-made go well with and tie, usually set off with a fedora. He reigns over his store just like the king of a tiny city-state, banishing clients who’ve proven him disrespect and yelling throughout the partitioned house for the second barber and manicurist below his make use of.

Mr. Dimonda lately had a blowup with one other buyer, a millionaire businessman, over the costs he prices, which run $80 plus tip for a minimize as much as $150 for the complete remedy of a minimize and a shave. After he took a automobile service from Lengthy Island to dye and trim the person’s beard, Mr. Dimonda felt he was underpaid.

“I inform him, ‘Don’t come right here no extra.’ I bought a status. I throw the individuals out. I like you. However don’t benefit from me.”

Mr. Dimonda sighed. “After the operation, I lose management very quick,” he mentioned, referring to his open-heart surgical procedure eight years in the past.

He has reduce his hours, from eight o’clock to round 3, and takes a automobile service to work. He tends to longtime clients and passes new shoppers to Frank Statella, the barber who works the store’s second chair.

Extra mild-mannered than Mr. Dimonda, Mr. Statella got here to America from Italy the identical yr, 1961, and in addition began working in barbershops as a boy in impoverished postwar Southern Italy (Sicily in his case). He’s barely youthful, at 73.

Mr. Julian appeared within the doorway, calling out to Mr. Dimonda, “Il Maestro! Il Maestro!”

Balding, with an overgrown beard, Mr. Julian sat within the barber’s chair, and Mr. Dimonda draped him with a cape constructed from his personal shirting material.

“This man will not be a barber,” Mr. Julian mentioned. “This man is a sculptor.”

Mr. Dimonda beamed with delight.

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