Mar. 02, 2021

by Alex Joseph ’15

Giuseppe Longo never intended to do anything with hair. Starting in 2008, when he graduated with a degree in International Trade and Marketing, he worked as a talent recruiter for companies including Calvin Klein. He also wrote a blog called “fashion + class & jet lag,” focused on the luxury industry. The site got noticed, and Longo started freelancing for other publications. It was fun, but what he wanted to do was publish a book. A friend worked in the salon of legendary hairstylist Kenneth Battelle, and Longo would drop by to socialize. Slowly, he realized his book idea was right in front of him.

Battelle, known as simply “Kenneth,” created the iconic Jackie Kennedy bouffant and styled Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, and Lucille Ball (who called him “God”), among many others. The New York Times dubbed him “an institution,” and he was the only hairdresser to win a Coty Award (now CFDA Award). In the early 2010s, he still maintained a boutique in the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. When Longo proposed the book, Kenneth hesitantly agreed (he worried the final product would be gossipy). But in 2013, before Longo could finish, Kenneth died.

Undaunted, Longo continued the seven-year process of researching and writing, tracking down an impressive list of former clients and associates. In October, Schiffer Publishing brought out Kenneth: Shear Elegance, and People, Vogue, and The Wall Street Journal paid tribute. Summing up Kenneth’s influence, Longo says, “He freed hair from being hidden under hats, and he made hair an important accessory. And he cultivated a following of beautiful ladies like Jean Shrimpton and Cheryl Tiegs. He was like a religious figure to them.”

Featured Photo (top): The Kenneth Salon at 19 East 54th Street in New York City. Kenneth collaborated with renowned interior decorator Billy Baldwin to make his vision come to life. © Milton Greene