Endless Summer Hair

THE BEND-OVER is the secret to a good, fast blow-dry." This, according to Marc Zowine, chatting on a bustling July afternoon at Salon Xavier in Sag Harbor, where Zowine had Dwyer Derrig bent at the waist, her hair freshly shampooed and his blow-dryer positioned at the nape of her neck.

"The bend-over also gives it height and volume, so it's not so flat."

Ten years ago, Derrig, a radiant, vivacious blonde, paid a visit to her girlfriend, who was sitting in Zowine's chair at what was formerly the M Salon in East Hampton.

Zowine took one look at Derrig's hair and told his assistant to "get her a smock." The two have been together as customer and stylist ever since. Zowine's a rarefied breed among high-end (read: top-dollar) hairstylists: He cuts and he colors.

Which is why "I've never cheated on him," says Derrig, an East Hampton resident who stops in for a touch-up every four to five weeks. "He knows how to do blondes and his cuts are always great. He's the it guy."

Zowine is a uniquely East End phenomenon: His chair is in Sag Harbor, and he loves it here, but there's a whole lot of city about him, which is exactly why some local customers are devoted to him. He's booked months in advance in the summer, and his client list is speckled with celebrities (but we're not naming names).

The son of a Lebanese father and an Italian mother, Zowine grew up in Connecticut and upstate New York. In 1987, after graduating from Hunter College with a degree in economics, he started working in the finance department at NBC Studios. But five years into the 9 to 5 grind, Zowine had grown bored of cubicle work.

At a dinner with Michael Kors, the fashion designer and long- time family friend, Kors remarked that Zowine would make a great hairstylist. Partly on a whim, he enrolled at the Wilfred Academy of Hair and Beauty and, shortly afterward, changed careers. He worked for a time at John D'Orazio and Frédéric Fekkai (city salons, for the non-cognoscenti) before finally embarking on his own.

When not at Salon Xavier" where he can be found every Thursday and Friday from Memorial Day until Labor Day, and every Friday during the off-season" Zowine works out of his nomad apartment, where the master bedroom has been transformed into a salon, with sweeping views of the Empire State Building. His East End escape is a two-bedroom beach cottage in Bridgehampton.

Zowine darts between New York, the South Fork, and Palm Beach, depending on the time of year. "It dawned on me that I wanted to have as much fun as my clients," said Zowine, who travels to Florida in the winter and routinely visits clients' private homes. "Why not go where they go?"

For color, Zowine specializes in something called "surfer blonde," chunky, commingled streaks of light and dark blonde that resemble the effect of a long summer day at the beach. It's the antithesis of the symmetrical, pale-streaked "Bergdorf Blonde," which he can also do, as well as deep brunettes and sultry reds.

"Hair is the sexiest thing. It's absolutely the most important thing to a woman," said Zowine, in between sips of a sugar-free Red Bull. "I like to evolve along with my colors. The color I did 10 years ago is certainly not the color i'm doing right now."

His trim physique belies a love of food.

"I love to eat," said Zowine, who generally adheres to a high-protein diet, though Round Swamp Farm's brownies are a weakness. Six months ago, Natasha Esch, who owns MONC XIII, a home furnishings store in Sag Harbor, snagged a last-minute cancellation with Zowine.

"I used to go into the city to get my color done, and that was a real hassle," Esch said, echoing others. Esch previously saw Sharon Dorram, a well-known colorist at Sally Hershberger, a salon on the Upper East Side. Zowine, who constantly tweaks each client's formula, uses three colors and two levels of bleach to weave five different colors throughout Esch's striking, multi-hued hair.

Before putting on a black smock, Esch said, "I tried Marc and I've never looked back." 

Amanda M. Fairbanks