Callista Salon & Day Spa

Weighing in on the ‘Callista’
June 23, 2024 – 01:28 pm
Calista Salon & Spa
Photo Amid other pressing issues, Callista Gingrich’s strikingly perfect bob has piqued the nation’s interest. Credit Josh Haner/The New York Times

Told that the owner, Nuri Yurt, was with clients, both callers said they sought his opinion of Callista Gingrich’s hair — the strikingly perfect platinum bob, with the distinctive over-the-left-eye swoosh, that has increasingly captured the attention of hairdressers, journalists, and women of a similar demographic worldwide.

Both times, the callers declined to leave a message, saying they would call back — creating a moment of political frisson at the salon. Mr. Yurt, known for styling Laura Bush when she was first lady, was left to wonder whether the calls were from the campaign itself. Was Mrs. Gingrich interested in switching stylists, and perhaps going for a softer, more touchable, more Laura Bush aesthetic?

“If I have an opportunity, sure, of course I would like to change that look, ” Mr. Yurt said of Mrs. Gingrich. “Her friends and people who know her, they say, ‘Nuri, you should put your hands in it.’ But I never had any chance.”

Yes, there are pressing issues facing the nation, from unemployment to foreclosures. But there is still room, it seems, to contemplate the fixed pale-blonde halo framing the delicate head of Newt Gingrich’s wife. She has been asked about her hairdo “at every stop, ” said Kellyanne Conway, a pollster and senior strategist for the Gingrich campaign. “Men say, ‘I love your hair, ’ women compliment her and then say, ‘How do you keep it so perfect?’ ” (The secret: hair spray, specifically Kenra Volume Spray 25.)

Callista Gingrich’s bob is the latest addition to a distinguished roster of political hair to be parsed for meaning, from Hillary Clinton’s headbands to John Edwards’s $400 trim to the Sarah Palin up-do that even many Democrats grudgingly admired. Mrs. Gingrich’s hair is only the second-most-talked-about of the current campaign season, with her husband’s rival, Mitt Romney, coming in first. Hair is, literally, an extension of politicians’ selves, inviting scrutiny, Facebook posts and hair punditry: What does it say about them? What does it really say?

Cindi Leive, the editor in chief of Glamour magazine, said it was unfair to judge campaign hair, which exists “in its own realm, ” by runway and real-world barometers.

In Mrs. Gingrich’s case, Ms. Leive said: “I’m just kind of fascinated by the aerodynamic properties involved, and how she gets it to do the exact same thing every time. I couldn’t get my hair to do the exact same thing every day for nine months if you gave me a billion dollars to do it.”

Political hair, Mrs. Conway agreed, must be seen in the context of a churning campaign that is “uncertain and dynamic and ever-changing.”

“If you can grab onto four or five things that you can control and that don’t change, ” she said, “that might be the proverbial anchor in the storm.”

So what does the flaxen bob convey? Mrs. Gingrich is “a very fastidious, meticulous, polished person, and that is reflected in her hair, ” Mrs. Conway said.

Others have been less generous. On The Daily Beast, the fashion critic Robin Givhan wrote that Mrs. Gingrich’s “eerily flawless” hairdo, along with other elements of her style, exuded “an excruciating prissiness.” She wrote: “Youthfulness is not her obsession. Control and order are.”

Holly Allen, of Slate, spent four hours in a Georgetown salon getting her hair colored and cut in an effort to replicate the Callista. Without the signature hair spray (the stylist refused), the bob was a different, more natural, beast. “Why does she do it?” Ms. Allen wrote. “To conform to some ideal of the ‘Washington wife’? To look older, bridging the age gap between her and Newt?”

(The slender, fair-skinned Mrs. Gingrich, 45, is her 68-year-old husband’s third wife, and began dating him when he was married to his second. All of this may rule out certain hairstyle options that could appear too suggestive, like the popular tousled, sultry looks known as “bedhead” and “beach hair.”)

Dozens of people have weighed in on Facebook posts. “I absolutely love, love Callista Gingrich’s hair, ” wrote Stan Patten, a retired English professor from North Carolina. “It is the one immovable object in a rapidly changing world.”

In fact, Callista Gingrich’s Hair has its own Facebook page. “Ron Paul challenged the other candidates to a bike race, ” one commenter wrote on the page. “Seems clear to me what Newt would wear to protect his noggin. ” On the day of the Florida primary, another commenter posted, as if addressing the hairstyle, “You were definitely a bit shy of the perfection we’ve come to expect, ” adding, “I hope you’re okay!”

Hairstylists across the country have also taken notice. In interviews, several expressed a longing to see her hair an inch or so longer, perhaps with some layering. Many said they would add some “depth” to her color, to make it more varied. Mostly, they were mystified.

“Not getting political, because I don’t mind Newt, but gosh, I wish she’d lighten up a little bit, ” said Jeffrey McQuithy, the owner of Vis-à-vis, an upscale salon in the Buckhead section of Atlanta. “If I could just reach through the television and kind of shake her hair a little bit, that would be great.”

One client, Patricia Queen, recalled sitting down in Mr. McQuithy’s chair recently, and requesting this look: “Something spunky, with movement and natural, a little edge but we don’t want it too edgy. And don’t do a Callista on me.”

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