Wellington and it's buildings continues to evolve, replacing old memories with new.
As a life-long Wellingtonian, I get to see this first hand.
For example, I used to go with my mum to Thorndon Quay to 'The Woolstore' - an old brick building at 262 Thorndon Quay - to visit a shop called 'Limited Editions'. Around age 7 or 8, I was obsessed with the pioneering spirit of schoolgirl heroines such as Anne of Green Gables and Laura Ingles Wilder from 'Little House on the Prairie'. I was fascinated by The Woolstore because it felt like it was a building still in colonial times, all high heritage brick. I could just imagine being in an old world town, of horse and cart, handmade dresses and sailing ships coming into port. While my mum would spend (what felt like) hours picking out wallpapers or looking at fabric samples, I would play hide and seek in the large rolls of cloth stacked against the wall.
As I grew, the Woolstore and its tenants did too. Last year while I worked for a Government Department near Molesworth Street, I would frequently have lunch at the cafe on Level 1, 'Le Marche Francais', gorging myself on their Blue Cheese and French Onion Tarte.
"It had a crisp Parisienne whiteness to it which intrigued me (maybe that was the Pan Au Chocolate talking)"
While I was there, I'd wonder about the hair studio, directly in the corner of the building, overlooking the motorway, 'Luca'. It had a crisp Parisienne whiteness to it which intrigued me (maybe that was the Pan Au Chocolate talking), busy with coiffured women stomping in and out across the polished wooden floors. I got the feeling that its hairdressers were as polished in their work as the ladies hair.
Last weekend, I finally visited Sophia, the owner of Luca, and got to see whether my imaginings and reality matched up. Happily, I can say they did. Luca turned out to be a little slice of hair-paradise that Wellingtonians in-the-know have been keeping a secret up until now.
Luca has the feel of a New York loft, all airy and high. It transports you as you come through its doors. It's the kind of place you can fully relax, hang up your coat and let someone else take over.
Luca has a talented team at the ready, which I was lucky enough to meet. Sophia Grace, the owner, is ex-Buoy (one of Wellingtons all-time best salons). She worked at Buoy for 17 years, later on as a Senior Stylist and Colour Director. After deciding she was ready for a new chapter in life, she opened Luca, named after her son. Also on hand was the highly talented David Playde (who is a fan on 'The Residents' it turned out!), colourist Shannon and also Jade, Angela and Milan. All of Sophia's hairstylists have 10 years plus experience, something I was as impressed with as their awesome attitude.
"It's the kind of place you can fully relax, hang up your coat and have someone else take over"
As I sipped on tea, David started cutting my hair. I explained that I was happy to go a bit shorter, but not too short.
David expertly worked the layers together and groomed my mane to perfection. Somehow my hair always manages to grow at different rates (Why God, why??).
Luckily with what felt like three snips, David sorted me out while we chatted about blogging, Wellington weather and hair. His humour was hilarious and we clicked straight away. David helped me relax and enjoy my haircut more. I felt very safe in his hands.
Next, Sophia applied the colour to my roots, working to take out the regrowth and smooth some of the different shades of blonde that had been applied. She wanted to harmonise and brighten the colour, taking it up a notch for Summer. As she pasted on colour, she explained the demands and rewards of having her own business. Sophia struck me as a true lady-boss, in the best possible way, yet she has the air of being a cool down-to-earth mum, something I loved.
The Special Request
Finally, we came to the styling. I explained to David and Sophia that I was heading to a gig to dance the Charleston later on. David whipped into action and pulled together a blow-wave that would make Daisy from 'The Great Gatsby' proud, pushing my fringe to one side in a demi-finger wave. The look was perfect and one I want to learn to emulate at home. It made SUCH a refreshing change from the normal straighten-after-haircut routine. I love a bit of body to hair!
Like the Woolstore building itself, my hair had character to boot as I left 'Luca'. I was thoroughly satisfied with my experience (satisfied doesn't fully explain the ECSTASY I felt leaving the hair studio. I was really, really thrilled). These guys REALLY know their stuff and I will certainly be returning. I loved Luca for their awesome crisp vibe, service and the way they considered who I was as a whole, not just my hair in isolation like it was detached from me. I felt they really took a wide range of factors into account and then blended everything together to go up another level of fabulous.
Luca is one place it is worth the short drive down Thordon Quay for. While I can't step back in time to pioneering days, I know that Anne of Green Gables would have benefitted from a trim and some highlights had she visited the Woolstore. Wellingtonians can at least can have that!
You can book into Luca here.
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