WEST VILLAGE — Hairstylist Hadiiya Barbel has shaped locks for celebrities including Star Jones, Iman, Wendy Williams and hip-hop star Sandy "Pepa" Denton.
As she racks up clients with bold-faced names, the Bronx-born powerhouse has one request — don't call her creations wigs.
Barbel opened her first retail location last week in the West Village selling what she refers to as "crowns." Sporting a snakeskin-print dress, sky-high heels, a wide belt with an Yves Saint Laurent logo and long, wavy locks, she explained her terminology.
"The word 'wig' has a big stigma with it. You're kind of looking down on someone when you use it," Barbel said Thursday afternoon as she and her staff buzzed around the small storefront at 225 W. 10th St. trimming and curling pieces for a V.I.P. grand opening event.
"When a woman says she's wearing a crown, though, her posture changes."
Hadiiya Barbel Collections sells crowns made from synthetic hair and human hair from Brazil, China and India. With names like the Butterfly (with "beachy and loose" waves) and the Executive ("a nice power cut"), the pieces start at $300 each and climb to $5,000 for custom-made selections that can take up to three months to make.
"Those are for women who want the best of the best of the best," said Barbel, 34.
Her main clients are women who need to create various looks for work in film and television, and women dealing with hair loss. Helping a woman find the perfect crown is empowering, she said.
"I make a woman feel really good," said Barbel, who won a Daytime Emmy Award in 2011 for her hairstyling work on "The Wendy Williams Show."
To create the right piece, Barbel looks at a woman's face shape, facial features, personal style and lifestyle. Before she thinks about what color a piece should be, she considers its most important feature.
"It's all the cut and the shape," she said. "Every hairstyle starts with a great cut."