Just as we were wrapping up this issue, I received word of Kenneth Battelle’s passing. This was a major loss for our industry. Simply called Kenneth by his celebrity clientele and peers, the legendary Manhattan hairdresser was arguably one of the finest talents in the world. In the 1950s and ’60s, his client list literally read like a Who’s Who, including everyone from Marilyn Monroe and Judy Garland to Lee Radziwill and Lucille Ball. So famous had his persona become that every time Glamour mentioned Kenneth on its cover, the magazine’s circulation purportedly climbed.
The only hairdresser to receive the Coty American Fashion Critics Award, Kenneth was singled out in American Salon’s 120th anniversary issue. In our Heroes story, he recounted how he had gone to beauty school on the G.I. Bill and began his career in downtown Syracuse, NY’s Starlet Beauty Bar before opting to try his luck in New York City. He eventually scored, landing a job at Helena Rubinstein’s tony Fifth Avenue salon. “They told me they’d try me for three weeks and I stayed six years,” he said. One day at work in the 1960s, Kenneth was paged over the loudspeaker. “When I came to the front desk I was introduced to this lady whose [usual] hairdresser was out sick,” he said. She turned out to be the Massachusetts junior senator’s wife, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, who ended up sporting the signature bouffant Kenneth created especially for her for years.
Kenneth likewise spent countless hours in the studio with photographers Irving Penn and Richard Avedon. “That was probably the most creative time of my life,” Kenneth said. “People understood that editorial was an exaggeration. Now I think it’s different because they deal with exaggeration rather than reality,” he said. Undoubtedly, the industry will miss him terribly. He brought timeless beauty and creativity to our world that continues to be an inspiration to us all.
Speaking of passionate people in the beauty profession, I’d like to express my gratitude to CND co-founder Jan Arnold, who worked her magic, getting The Blonds to create a one-of-a-kind blue corset for Hope Is In Style, an online auction to raise funds for diabetes research by City of Hope 2013 Spirit of Life Gala honoree Reuben Carranza. Other generous contributions include a cosmetics gift basket from Jill Stuart and a handbag from Zac Posen. To make a bid on one of these items or to make your salon a symbol of hope, visit cityofhope.org/hopeisinstyle. ✂ —Kelley Donahue, editor in chief, [email protected]
photography: Corbis (Jacqueline kennedy onassis)
FROM TOP: Kenneth Battelle is referred to as the first celebrity hairdresser; he created Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ bouffant.