Our Town

Washington, D.C. , is home to some of the most powerful people in the world. No matter what their profession—politician, lobbyist, diplomat or network news anchor—all of these people have one thing in common: They need a good hairdresser. Meredith Towbin visited four of the best salons in the city to find out what makes them tick.


Celadon is an "urban spa" set in the middle of Washington's business district. "Many people have their hair and nails done for White House events, and we even have a few reporters who rush in and out," says owner Judith Koritsas.

In general, clients are looking for pretty conservative looks. "Our stylists take classes with Bumble and bumble and L'OrE9al Professionnel, but they must apply the techniques they learn to 'Washington hair,'" Koritsas explains. "It's the same with colorneeds to be very subtle."

What sets Celadon's staff apart is the way they treat high-powered clients. "We deal with women who are in very high positions, and we give them a place to relax," says Koritsas. Sometimes this involves a little juggling with the scheduling. The receptionist must stay on top of who will be in the salon at one particular time, and if there's a conflict (whether it be political or social), things need to be handled delicately and appointments may just need to be rescheduled.


ILO is nestled in Georgetown. Gary Walker, who owns the salon with partner Terry Bell, teaches all of his employees to introduce the products they're using and show the client how to apply them. The goal is to talk about three products during the service—a shampoo, conditioner and styling product, for example. "If you're not selling the products, you're not doing your job," says Bell.

Walker also makes sure that each of his stylists is trained in hairdressing—updos, proper blow-drying and so on. "Many of our clients go to society events and need to look good," says Walker, who has gone above and beyond the call of duty, actually teaching clients how to stand correctly in a ball gown.


Piaf is no stranger to the world of the famous and powerful—one of its hairdressers is Laura Bush's resident stylist on Air Force One. Owner Lasette Attias opened Piaf's doors in 1980, and since then the salon and spa has made quite a name for itself. Vogue recently ranked Piaf one of the top salons in the country for eyelash extensions. An extension is applied to each individual lash, and after an hour and half, clients leave with full, beautiful lashes that last for six weeks, though some touching up may be required.

Piaf has also received kudos for its permanent cosmetics and melting highlights (this low-maintenance method places the lightness underneath while the top layer of the hair remains natural looking). The salon also offers threading, an ancient, Eastern method of eyebrow shaping.


Just across the street from ILO sits Easel, a young, artsy salon owned by Sean Leonard, his wife, Sarah, and Gerard Kierens. The hairdressing stations look like—you guessed it—easels. Paintings by local artists as well as a mural painted by Leonard's mother adorn the walls.

It's hard to escape the fact that D.C. is all a bout politics, even in the salon, Leonard admits. He says his clients' style preferences change with who's in office. "As George W. Bush was just starting to campaign, the city was invaded with big, blonde hair," he jokes. As it stands now, the demand for more conservative looks has increased. No matter which political party has the power, however, Leonard and his staff have used their clients' influence to help make a difference, hosting fundraisers for a variety of causes. The latest: a humanitarian project helping to combat HIV globally among women and girls.