Get Shanked


When Rachel Bell moved her salon, Shank, to a half empty block on the Paseo last year, a lot of people thought she was crazy.

Her salon which had occupied a small space on the corner of Ledoux Street for several years, was busy and there seemed to be no reason for Rachel, who at the time, worked alone, to move her place of business from an already great location.

But Rachel had plans, and one of them included a new baby who was already on the way, unbeknownst to most, when she moved Shank, and these pictures were taken.

Baby Vida was born last winter, and Rachel, now the mother of four, is back at work, albeit part-time, with a few of her barber chairs occupied by other stylists (and their clients), as well as a few helping hands for Vida, who accompanies her mother to work.

Rachel’s creative streak is all over Shank which is a decor mashup apropos to the millennial daughter of Larry Bell and Janet Webb, (who also happens to be married to Sasha Von Dorp, one of the artists featured in the upcoming show in Manhattan. Taos: 1960’s – Present,)

Reproduction French Louis IV style dining chairs  sidle up to an oversize contemporary couch in the waiting area. Their trendy burlap upholstery makes it easier to keep them in the salon, Rachel explained, “as I’m not so concerned about colour getting on them.”

Behind the reception area, vintage barber chairs line the wall on one side of the salon while Rachel’s station occupies the other side together with shelves of product.

The walls are hung salon style with masses of photographs and art around the vintage mirrors hanging in front of each chair.

A few vintage mannequins are piled up in one corner like an installation in an art gallery, a device which worked at the old salon and continues here.

“My kids don’t like them in the house.” Rachel told me with a smile, when we talked recently. “But they like them here!”

It feels very LA/Rodeo Drive inside the new Shank – very big and glamorous – understated and low-key it is not!

Rachel’s cuts too, are not for the faint of heart. Highly stylized and conceptual, her cutting techniques have been honed over years of continuing education with Vidal Sassoon, and the precision, attention to detail and sharp, sleek looks  coming out of her chair are definitely for the more Fashion Forward among us.

That said, Rachel also executes very chic short cuts for women who are done with high maintenance hair, and need to look pulled together and professional on the daily, and the day I visited, a woman with a classic blonde shoulder length cut was in Rachel’s chair being blown out after a cut and colour. The blonde was the shade wealthy women of a certain age favour.

If undone, looser and less contrived looks are your jam, Rachel’ may not be your girl, but thankfully, Taos has no shortage of great hair stylists to suit every individual need.

If however you are all about using your locks to make a statement (or as an exclamation mark stamped on your signature style) there’s no one better for miles around to assist you in your sartorial goals.

Rachel’s foresight in moving Shank to a somewhat risky location seems to have paid off. Slowly but surely the empty spaces are filling up, and the strip of Paseo that was for a time, feeling a little sad and forlorn, is once again a part of the beating heart of Taos.

For more information about Shank’s hours of operation and to make an appointment, please visit the site linked below.


All photographs by Bill Curry