If Dee Adames - Miami's mohawked winner of the second season of Sheer Genius - could describe herself as any animal, she'd choose a cat.
"They're mysterious and slightly territorial," she laughs as muted episodes of the Bravo reality show in which she won plays on a flat screen inside her South Miami salon, D&L Hair Studio (7301 SW 57 Court, South Miami).
And yes, the "D" does stand for Dee. But don't mistake this San Antonio native as some ankle-scratching hisser marking her property with sprays of Paul Mitchell hair products (a brand that cultivated her career) and obvious self-promotion.
She's a talented kitty. Like the kind that's able to use chopsticks at dinner-time. Or like Kmart, her own cat, whose name derives from the blue lit, Martha Stewart-loving super store in which he was rescued by a friend who found the furry creature to be friendly, strong, and resourceful.
"He gave Kmart to me as a gift because he thought we had similar personalities," she says.
And oddly enough, when I walked into Dee's sublime black and turquoise salon decked out with eco-friendly blow dryers that hang overhead and turn on with a simple tug, the color of my hair looked like it came off the shelf of a Kmart. And the cut looked like a yarn ball that had been knotted and tangled by her playful pet:
I needed help. After years of going to salons in Miami with a few restrictions, like wanting to keep my length and wavy texture, I always seemed to leave with the same bland 'do I'd been sporting since high school. And after watching Dee's finale win on Sheer Genius, in which a client with overly-processed, frizzy hair asked Dee where she'd been her whole life after a chic, age-appropriate cut, I was willing to give D&L a shot.
Dee sat me down, took my restrictions to heart and started thinking outside the box. After a consultation (and a complimentary mimosa) we decided to do a shag-cut that I could leave curly or blow-out, with a vibrant red color that would utilize the blonde highlights I already had.
I was excited about the idea, so Dee got to work at the social-nucleus of the salon, the Paul Mitchell color bar. As she mixed colors and applied dye, Dee displayed her passion for quality and higher education by demonstrating her "Hair Painting" skills for employees like Master Hair Stylist, Anthony Gonzalez, whom Dee met 10 years ago while doing education classes for Paul Mitchell products.
"He came up to me after the class and told me he wanted to do what I do," Dee says as I watch a bright, crimson strand of my hair get folded into a piece of tin foil. A decade later, Dee's protégée is now her second-stylist-in-command, but Anthony's not the only talent she's enlisted in this new business venture. Laila Taheri, Dee's former assistant at Kendall's Peter of London (11611 N Kendall Dr), who has her Masters in English and is the elusive "L" in D&L, handles all the marketing and business aspects of the salon. This dark-haired cutie with side-swept bangs will also eventually serve as D&L's color guru.
After the dye was applied, Dee busts out a portable, Freestyle dryer, meant to heat my hair and not my neck as it orbits my head, as I enjoy yet another mimosa and an issue of Vogue (there's no trashy Us Weeklies in this joint). Then it's off to The Aqua Room, a small, serene Enya-heavy oasis, for a washing. Post-wash, I'm back at the color bar for the application of a gloss to hold color and condition my course, brittle hair. Post-gloss, I get another trip to the Aqua Room, but this time I'm draped with a comfy, plush zebra-printed throw and receive a 10-minute scalp massage from Ysha Artaega Isha, a "Rising Star".
Shampooed and conditioned, I'm sent to Dee's chair for the cut where Dee recruts Isha to watch how she angles her sheers in order for them to sharpen their cutting skills.
During the cut, in walks a steady flow of friends, fellow hairstylists, and D&L's DJ, who plays grooves during the hectic weekend appointments, giving the folks at the salon a break from Dee's predilection for 80s tunes c/o The Cure, Depeche Mode, and Joy Division.
Snip, snip, snip, a product or two (including highly recommended Moroccan Oil), a blow-out, some flat-ironing, and I receive my grand revealing:
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I have to admit, I'm a pretty satisfied customer. I couldn't stop doing the Pantein Pro-V commercial-hair-shake for at least three days afterwards. When I leave my hair curly, it's full and layered in a way that frames my face in a flattering way.
Yet, be forewarned, this ain't Supercuts. A cut here is an investment. Hair by Dee starts at $95 (which includes a HairBlow) and ones by her fellow stylists range from $55-$75. Hair Painting, which includes procedures described as "Mood Lighting" and "Paint in 3D" range from $65-$180. Other services include "Hair Rehab" for those of us who need to admit we have hair-problems and "Face Art" where one can learn to emphasize their natural beauty for $75 an hour. So start saving up.
I know, I know, we're all broke, but sometimes a gal just needs to feel pretty and with expertise cuts at D&L you may not need to hit up the salon as often as you have in the past. And hey, you're worth it.