Sterling Apothecary (CLOSED)
Time Out says
Give your mop the sterling treatment
Sterling Apothecary has all the charm of its Surry Hills sibling: racing green velvet chairs in the waiting room, art deco lighting, Hollywood mannequins and mahogany furniture. Owner Tony Vacher, a Londoner who moved to Sydney in ’89, splits his time between his latest enterprise in Chippendale and Sterling Parlour on Brisbane Street.
“I’m three days here, two days in Surry Hills,” says the sought-after barber and stylist. However, that will soon change as the lease is up on the Parlour location – and the landlord isn’t renewing. “We’ll probably do another shop,” says Vacher. “I’d like to do something over the north side.”
This year marks a milestone 25 years for Sterling, and despite the impending move for the Brisbane Street salon, business is booming. There’s no shortage of bookings at either location. “We’ve brought in another three people, and we’re looking for an apprentice,” says Vacher, who trains his staff to use traditional methods.
As Free’s ‘All Right Now’ blares from the speakers, Vacher tells us he could see the Chippendale’s upsurge in the number of new, likeminded businesses flocking to the area. “I live in Earlwood so I’d drive past here and stop at Brickfields for coffee. For about two or three years you could feel this area just bubbling. I tried to get in here a few years ago and just missed out. With LP’s Quality Meats, Brickfields and Ester across the road, we’ve got better food around here than Surry Hills, I reckon.”
Vacher shows us his favourite chair, which dates back to the 1900s, and a dark wooden cabinet that was sourced from Mumbai. Under the counter, there are pomades and grooming products your granddad might remember, like Italian Marvis toothpaste, as well as contemporary brands like Sachajuan Stockholm.
Whether you’re here for the short back and sides, need your beard trimmed or fashion a classic ’60s style, you’re in good hands with the Vidal Sassoon-trained veteran. “I’ve styled a lot of the people I ever wanted to style,” says Vacher, who worked on the video for Sting’s ‘Englishman in New York’ starring writer, raconteur and gay rights activist Quentin Crisp. But if there’s one man on his hit list it’s got to be David Bowie, particularly during his Thin White Duke phase. “It would be pretty amazing to style Bowie. He just looks good in a classic men’s haircut.”