Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Kenneth Salon : A Billy Baldwin Blowout

An artists rendering of Kenneth's Salon.
Exotic elegance.
Being a guy, my Salon experiences have been limited to waiting in the lobby of Marcia's Country Lady (the Salon my Mom went to) when I was 8 and doing my homework.  It was papered in a blue and white stripe with little flower garlands, the sofas were a matching Federal blue, and the occassional tables were oak with cabriole legs and leaded glass insets in the top.  There were prints of country cottages, Battenburg valances, and the receptionist operated out of an oak roll top desk.   It was very comfortable and homey, not especially striking or overwhelmingly dramatic, but it was memorable.  If anything, Salons have become all but anonymous today, with slick, severe, minimalist interiors and a concern for turn over rather than comfort or even glamour.  While they may provide a great cut or color, many leave something to be desired when it comes to high style.

An artist rendering of the Manicure and Hairdryer stations.
Campaigne stools!  Leopard covered Rattan!  Turkish footstools!
The chandelier and tented ceiling and walls, a Baldwin hallmark,
caps off the decadent fantasy.

Imagine, if you will, the smile that bloomed across my face when in my readings I happened upon the Kenneth Salon in New York, which was decorated by the incomprable Billy Baldwin; decorator to Babe Paley, Jackie O., and Diana Vreeland, to name a few.  Kenneth, hair dresser to Jackie Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe ( you can bet the bookings were carefully monitored there) opened his own salon in 1963 in a townhouse on 54th Street that was previously owned by the Vanderbilts, after winning the Coty award for his work in the industry.

Parquet flooring, an opulent tufted velvet pouf, bamboo chairs & vanities,
tasseled cornices, trellis papered walls and ceiling and some very modern
drum pendants creates an exotic oasis in the city.

Baldwin created a stunning Salon inspired by Brighton Pavillion, a Regency era confection.  Striped awnings, wrought iron doors, exotic furnishings, exuberant color, and pattern upon pattern filled the space.  To the devoted Kenneth clientele, this must have appeared as a temple of beauty, somewhere to spend an afternoon being pampered with your closest friends, somewhere you'd never want to leave.  Salons today should take note, and then call a Decorator.  Hint.  Hint.

- Ian 

Great Design is in the details.  Here we see the combinations
of patterns withBamboo trellis paper contrasting in scale and mood
with a scattered floral garland paper.  The vanities are also a masterpiece
of design done in ivory and orange lacquer with coordinating orange mirrors.
The buffet lamps in a Palm tree style are just plain elegant.

The building Kenneth occupied was Renaissance Revival, and it's
Calssical details are seen in this vestibule.  Roman arches, Corinthian Coumnls, etc.
I am in love with the opulence of those chairs.  Nestled up to the dome dryers,
they are infinitely more elegant than the typical Naugahyde chairs.  How could a person,
whether staff member or client, not feel like a million bucks in this interior?
Beautiful spaces really do shape our mood and mindset.

A sconce from the Salon.  How incredibly elegant!  I love the way the
Rococo arms compliment the curves in the Paisley wallpaper.
Baldwin was a huge advocate of wallpaper; Baldwin and his close friend Woodson Taulbee,
founded Woodson Wallpapers when Baldwin was dissatisfied with the papers
he was seeing in the market. 

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