With its larger-than-life personalities and constantly shifting alliances, it's a wonder there's never been a soap opera centered around the world of upscale hairsalons. The latest brouhaha is last weekend's mass exodus from Sally Hershberger Downtown. The legendary Hershberger said she was totally surprised to learn that colorist Marie Robinson—who left the salon on March 19—was planning to open her own shop and take a significant chunk of her former colleagues with her. The revelation resulted in the sudden firing of all of the soon-to-defect employees, including Hershberger's rising star stylist Tommy Bucket, before they had a chance to jump ship.

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Hershberger says she was dismayed by the secrecy, but thinks her tutelage will serve her old charges well. "These were my assistants—I got them when they didn't have one client," she tells us. "But I feel confident that I can build anybody." (This, of course, is the stylist who was the first to charge $600 a haircut a few years back.) While Robinson declined to comment, Hershberger says she has already hired replacements and promoted Robinson's former assistants, Keith Shore and Erin Bogart, who will now tend to the haircolor of Pat Wexler and Annie Leibowitz. The loss of so many key stylists "could have been a devastation, but it wasn't," Hershberger adds. "You can ask anybody who was there on Saturday. It was so crowded, Vera [Wang] was sitting on a bench in the hall."
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