Health & Grooming: Head Strong

<< Back to Robb Report, March 2003
  • Laurie Kahle

Rodolfo Valentin may have the requisite foreign accent, but he is not your typical celebrity hair stylist, or designer, as they prefer to be called now. Rather than apply a signature cut, he instead follows his client’s physical and emotional cues to determine a style that flatters not only appearance but character as well. “I follow trends in fashion and adopt new looks, but most importantly I follow the client’s personality,” explains the 6-foot-3-inch-tall Argentinian with a preference for long hair and an all-black wardrobe. “We all have our own style—some romantic, some sophisticated. I know how to follow trends, but more important, I know how to please the client.”

Last fall, Valentin opened his Manhattan Private Atelier for Hair on Madison Avenue. With its soaring ceilings, elaborate crown moldings, and parquet floors, the salon mirrors the opulence of Valentin’s flagship salon and day spa in Cedarhurst, Long Island, which was ranked among the top day spas in the country by American Spa magazine. In both locations, says Valentin, men represent a growing percentage of his clientele. And they are not coming in for only a quick trim. His Pampered Male menu of services lists eyebrow, beard, and moustache trimming and toning, sport manicures and pedicures, plus hair-coloring services. “Today, men take care of their hair exactly like women do, but the men don’t publicize it—it’s like how women are about having plastic surgery,” he says. “The competition in the business world is tremendous today, and everyone wants to look their best—the younger want to look older, the older want to look younger, the middle-aged want to look fashionable.”

These days, says Valentin, it’s fashionable for men to wear their hair slightly longer. “Until recently, American men wanted the army look: muscles and no hair,” he says. “Now, everyone wants a longer look—not long, but a few inches to frame the face and make it look softer, younger.”

 

Men are also requesting color, such as highlighting, but it has to be subtle and natural looking, adds Valentin, who has won prestigious international awards for hair-coloring techniques. One process called Gray Out gradually tones down gray through a reverse-highlighting process in which strands of hair are pulled through a skin-tight French cap that allows for careful control of the amount of hair that is darkened. A man with white hair can subtly return to salt and pepper, and over time even go back to the natural color of his youth.

What cannot go unnoticed in Valentin’s salons are the scores of hairpieces on display. Valentin made his first custom wig for his mother, Sofia, who lost her hair during chemotherapy. In her memory, he founded Sofia’s Hair 4 Health, a charity through which he donates one tailored wig per month to a low-income cancer victim. Currently, Valentin is the largest East Coast supplier of wigs for cancer patients.

The custom hairpieces are also in demand by healthy men who refuse to accept baldness. “My hairpieces cannot be noticed,” says Valentin. “We bond the piece into their own hair so they can use it for a month—they can shower, swim. The hairpieces are customized to the client, which is important because every head is shaped differently, and you have to match the hair color and texture, and even make sure the hair follows the same direction.” From hairpieces to hair color, the key, stresses Valentin, is to make sure that all of his efforts go undetected.

Rodolfo Valentin, 212.327.4227 (Manhattan), 516.569.0574 (Cedarhurst), www.rodolfovalentin.com

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