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Pittsburgh's Beauty Academy

Recently, I attended the premiere of Vivienne Mackinder's latest film, Discover Your Passion, at Philip Pelusi's salon, Tela, in Manhattan's Meatpacking District. Philip is an old friend who has a chain of eponymous salons in Pittsburgh, which many of you know is my hometown. Strangely enough, there were so many other Pittsburgh expats there—celebrity colorist Brad Johns, editorial stylists Louis Angelo and Jimmy Paul, Redken's David Stanko—that I could have been at a Steelers Super Bowl party. Vivienne even featured Steel Town girl Beth Minardi in her film.

Marianne Dougherty
Marianne Dougherty

I guess I'd always known that a lot of hairdressers who grew up in Pittsburgh made it big when they moved to New York City, but having them all in the same room that night drove the point home.



Except for Beth and Jimmy, most of them graduated from Pittsburgh Beauty Academy, which was founded by Arthur DeConciliis. The school is closed now, but it was exceptional in its day. In fact, it was the only beauty school in the country to have an active alumni association. Former students who'd become enormously successful were inducted into the Hall of Fame each year. Brad was one of them.

Best of Youth
Best of Youth

Jimmy's mother, Mary Pat Valentino, was not only a graduate of Pittsburgh Beauty Academy—she was in the same class as Philip—but also taught there for many years. "Philip always said that my mother could really comb hair," Jimmy says. "I think he was talking about all those big hairdos they did in the '60s. In fact, many of the hairstyles my mother used to do have been the inspiration for the looks I've done for magazines like Vogue and Harper's Bazaar." While Pittsburgh may not be as cosmopolitan as New York City, it's managed to produce some of the most influential hairdressers in Manhattan. Maybe it's something in the water. After all, the city's surrounded by it. —Marianne Dougherty, editor in chief, mdougherty@questex.com

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Marianne Dougherty

Marianne Dougherty