Monday, March 26, 2012

Claire Accuhair Contessa Review

Posted by Unknown at 2:52 PM
 Review of Claire Contessa: Interview with AskChavi reader "RS".

What made you decide to purchase a Claire?  Where did you hear of the brand?
I’d never had a sheitel I liked, so when my daughter became a kallah I asked around and got the most consistently positive feedback about Claire Accuhair. Once I saw what they were selling I decided to get my own for the chassunah.
Claire Accuhair is one of the oldest sheitel companies in the US. Claire herself has an amazing lifestory—she learned wig making while in a DP camp after the war, and started making her own when she got frustrated with what was available for a young kallah in Brooklyn in those days. If you go, try to spend a few minutes talking to her (or even better, sing her a Hungarian song if you know one!). She has a wonderful view of life.

How many other sheitels did you try before deciding on it?
I’ve been wearing sheitelach for almost 25 years—part synthetic to start, and then later Remy hair. I was never really happy with any of them.

What color is your Claire?
6, one needed a little highlighting.

Was it custom made or pre-made?
Now this is an interesting question. It started out as a premade, a Claire Contessa—although completely hand tied and made with virgin (uncolored, untreated) European hair (the only kind she uses). Claire altered the shape of the hairline, since mine is a little unusual, and added a good 2” of depth to the cap, so it ended up fitting perfectly. I’ve never had a custom, but I can’t imagine a custom fitting any better. (see photo)

How would you describe the texture of hair?
It feels like very healthy well cared-for hair. I’ve had it styled silky and straight as well as wavy with body and the hair holds any style you give it. About the only thing you might not be able to do is get a totally stick straight, limp look—unless you want to have the hair thinned out a lot.

Did you have a specialized wig cap size?
Yes, as I said. My daughter had to have hers taken in. They did an excellent job with that kind of alteration as well. The caps start slightly on the large side, I think, so that they can take them in and do other alterations if necessary (which will cost you less than if you had to add hair in to make the cap fit).

Did you purchase it from the Claire salon or from a sheitel macher?
Directly from Claire.

How did their involvement in the sale help the overall kallah experience?
Claire’s daughter worked with my daughter, showing her how to wear and care for her sheitel. I think she had a very positive experience—very different from my travails with my earlier sheitlach!

What was the hardest thing about finding a sheitel as a kallah?
I didn’t have anyone to help me, so I ended up with horrible, ill fitting sheitlach. I certainly didn’t want my daughter to have the same experience, and she didn’t B”H.

Does the cap fit you well, is it comfortable? 
Very comfortable. I wear it all day and I find it about the most comfortable head covering I have.  When I first looked at the cap I questioned that it wasn’t all stretch, which I thought would be more comfortable. I have a different make of shaitel that had a stretch cap and I find that it slides around a lot more than my Claires do, and it began to stretch out pretty quickly. The Claire cap is not the lightest when you’re holding it in your hand, but I find it more comfortable to wear.

Does it give you headaches?  

Does the hair knot? 
Not at all. At most it gets a little tangled if I don’t put a brush to it for the whole day-but NEVER  knots .

Do you think the skin top is really realistic?
I find the skin top realistic and it is quite big so you can do a lot with the top, parting in different ways, etc.

Have you ever washed it yourself?  If so, did the hair knot when wet?
I’ve washed it myself a few times. The hair doesn’t knot, but you do have to be careful not to pull too hard on it, since it’s hand tied not machine wefted, and the hand ties don’t stand up to abuse as well. (I have always washed my own, but they were all machine wefted.)  Claire told me how to handle it (pinned to a head the whole time, and combing the shampoo through) and I can do it, but I prefer to have Claire’s people take care of it. They do a good job, no matter what I ask them to do, and it’s one less headache (so to speak).

What quality hair was advertised to you and do you feel the hair was the same as advertised?
They told me that the hair was good quality virgin European hair. If anything, it was even better than I expected. I’ve had my first Claire for over 1 ½ years now and the hair quality feels just the same; it hasn’t dried out or oxidized at all—the only way I can see that it’s not new is on the inside, where you can see that I’ve worn the shaitel a lot.)

How much did you pay
Each Contessa I bought came to approximately $1,500 including the cut and the alterations.

How was the Claire/sheitel macher customer service? 
Really great. I have gone in several times with little things (a piece of hair that’s not falling the way I like it, etc.) and Claire herself has fixed it on the spot. (The first time I went in she begged me to let her do something with the quite inferior sheitel I was wearing—which was NOT one of hers—because she didn’t want me to wear it looking like that. She spent a good 15 minutes patchkying with it—wow, what a difference!-- and wouldn’t take a penny.) They give you at least a month after the styling to come back and have things changed around. I brought mine back in after the chassunah because I’d decided I wanted a more layered look and they redid it for no extra charge.  Claire’s is a small place—there are only 8-10 people working there, total (including Claire and two of her daughters)—and there’s a nice family feeling about the place.

Would you buy a Claire again?

Are you happy with your sheitel cut?  Would you get a different style next time?
I have two Claires and I’m happy with the style on both of them.  I don’t think I’ll be buying a new one for at least a few years so the styles probably will have changed by then. I can certainly see having one of them recut in a couple of years if I get tired of the style it has now.

How would you rate it on the following scale? A-F

Weight/comfort: A    
Hair Quality: A
Skin top:  A
Durability: A
Appearance: A
Cap Construction: A

 Overall: A


Anonymous said...

i got married 12 yrs ago this coming june, and for my first 2 shaitles i got contessa's. they were without a doubt the best 2 shaitles i ever had! everything she said is 100% true!! it never got knotted and i ALWAYS washed and set them myself. was sow low maintenance!! and they lasted me 10 yrs!!! my sister in law got married 1 yr after me and she also got a contessa. her shaitle is still going strong and of all her shaitles, she will tell you her contessa is by far her best piece. the only other thing i want to say is that my shaitle was more expensive than discussed above. mine was $1800 and that was 12 yrs ago...but worth every dime!!

Anonymous said...

The Contessas are now made out of scrap hair left over from Claire's customs, and this helps to keep the price down.

I (also!) 100% agree with RS's review. What makes the Contessa truly remarkable is that it is SUCH a superior quality compared to the other pre-made EHH sheitels available in Flatbush, but costs much less! Claire is in an out of the way location (on a side street behind Chop-a-Nosh) so she probably doesn't get as much casual foot traffic as the sheitel machers on Coney Island Avenue, but it is SO worth the detour!

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