Madison Ave North
These hair designers are revolutionizing the Westchester salon scene. Your mother’s roller set doesn’t live here anymore
By Catherine Censor
Photography by Cathy Pinsky
Increasingly, Westchesterites have been demanding urban style to match their suburban lifestyle. Thanks to the explosion of places like White Plains (even developer Donald Trump sees its hipster potential), anything hot, cool, and happening is finding its way North. Whether you crave tuna tacos, True Religion jeans, mojitos, or mambo, you can get it without leaving the 914 area code. And guess what? That hot, cool, happening hairstylist you’ve been schlepping to Manhattan to see? She’s here, too.
“Whether it’s restaurants, shops, or hair salons, Westchesterites are demanding better and they’re getting it,” says Deborah Kolley-Bartko, co-founder of White Plains-based Static.
“Westchester consumers are becoming more like Manhattan consumers,” opines Anthony Fiore, owner of Capri Cosmetology Learning Center in Nanuet, who has his finger on the pulse of local salons. “There are lots more high-end salons opening up. Westchester is definitely coming up in sophistication. I wish Rockland were on the same track!”
Bona fide talent is making the reverse commute from New York. A quick survey found alumni from the city’s biggest-name salons—Oscar Blandi, Bumble & Bumble, Warren Tricomi, Frederic Fekkai, and Kim Lepine—all plying their trade right in our backyard. And the talent isn’t all going one way along Metro-North. Consider the example of White Plains-based hero Vasken Demirjian, who is contemplating opening a satellite salon in New York City, or Franco Marino of Beautiful Hair Color Salon in Pleasantville, who runs regular color and cutting seminars in SoHo. Clearly, we’re good enough to export!
The following men and women provide big-city style at neighborly prices. Some of them may be familiar to you from our last look at
Nuriel Abramova, Janie Adler, Carole Boling, Teri Donnelly, Jamie Humphrey, Deborah Kolley-Bartko, and Matthew Yasgur
180 Mamaroneck Ave. â€¢ White Plains
It looks like a loft in Soho, sounds like a South Beach lounge, and styles like nobody’s business. This year’s winner of our Editors’ Choice award for “Hippest Hair Salon,” Static is definitely crackling—and the buzz isn’t just hype. Co-founder Deborah Kolley-Bartko says she started the salon because, “I’m a typical Westchester woman and I didn’t have time to travel to Manhattan for my hair.” Static co-founder Matthew Yasgur adds, “There were plenty of sophisticated places, but no hip, sexy, contemporary salon.” So together, the Jose Eber alumns built one, bringing Manhattan to White Plains. Stylist Nuriel Abramova, who works wonders with fine hair and detailed, interior layers, was culled from Madison Avenue’s Kim Lepine. Jamie Humphrey, the salon’s “classicist,” gets respect for her precision cuts and carefully sculpted bobs.
The clientele is as heavy hitting as the staff. Yasgur has cut Bill Clinton’s hair (“He was the greatest! He tried to sweep up his own hair!”) and actress Anna Paquin’s mane, but his dream client is “Samantha from Sex and the City—fortyish, sexy, bold, and feminine. That’s my type of client.” Kolley-Bartko, who is known for her “piecey,” feminine razor cuts and gorgeously layered looks, gets props from everyone in the Westchester salon business. Prices are up there (cuts are $115 or $150 for Kolley-Bartko or Yasgur, color starts at $85 for single process), but as Kolley-Bartko notes, “This isn’t your mother’s beauty salon.”
Vasken Demirjian and Jackie Kurran
245 Mamaroneck Ave. â€¢ White Plains
Salon owner and master colorist Vasken Demirjian believes Westchester is experiencing an exciting cultural shift. “In the exodus from New York City after 9/11, young, wealthy
couples came to
His salon, with stylists from Turkey, Italy, Brazil, Puerto Rico, and beyond, does exactly that. But unlike the UN, which his salon resembles, Demirjian is not known for muted diplomacy. “The reality is that we are definitive, but for the benefit of the people, not for the sake of doing hair. That’s what separates us from anyone else.” Demirjian, for example, will not do ash blonde, which he deems a “ghastly color,” and if you want to be your blondest in February, he’ll politely suggest that hair should be richer and deeper in cool weather, lighter as the weather warms. His advice is first-rate, his taste impeccable—and you’ll pay accordingly.
Color with Demirjian starts at $105 for a single process, $250 for a full head of highlights. Color correction, his specialty, runs over $300. Is it worth it? You bet. “Hair is your number-one accessory,” he says. “Because you wear it 24/7, it has to be right.”
Jackie Kurran, whose name was on more than one source’s lips, is known for her all-around color excellence. Trained by Demirjian personally, she excels at customizing color to flatter each individual’s skin and eye color. Even rival salons are fans of her work. (As we went to press, we learned that Kurran has joined the Salon O team in Greenwich, CT.)
Omar Roth and Rocco Palermiti
239 Mill St. â€¢ Greenwich, CT
Omar Roth (who goes by Omar) doesn’t have a provincial bone in his 35-year-old body. After seven years at Frederic Fekkai’s salon, he became salon director at Jose Eber’s White Plains location. (Remember Jose? He was Farrah Fawcett’s mane man, famed for his catch phrase, “Shake your head, darling!”) Now that Jose is gone, Omar wears the celebrity stylist mantle, turning out Meg Ryan-like tousled, choppy looks for a sophisticated, professional clientele. Asked if Ralph Lauren would be a good analogy, he muses, “I’d say our look is more like Calvin Klein—we’re stylish, yet classical. It’s a causal and relaxed style with city flair. We’re less predictable than Ralph Lauren.”
Rocco Palermiti (who goes by Rocco), Omar’s one-time personal assistant, may have a singular moniker like his boss, but he’s definitely his own man. Just 25 years of age, Rocco likes sexy, long layers. “Jessica Simpson hair,” he explains, “tousled, lots of body, and not too perfect.” He likes the look of choppy bangs cut long enough to wear to the side. The look suits Westchester women who Rocco notes are “more into wash-and-wear hair than blow-dried looks.” Rocco was born into a family of hairstylists and started doing hair when he was 13. After studying hair for more than a year in Italy, he came back to America as a 17-year-old and has been working ever since. Despite his youth, Omar swears he’s already “one of the top stylists in the county.” Catch him while you can. Expect to be charged $115 to $120 for cuts.
Jean Jacques Barret and Victor Tripaldi
Richard Scott Salon and Day Spa
15-17 S. Moger Ave. â€¢ Mount Kisco
Victor Tripaldi once took up painting as a Hobby, so it’s no surprise that he puts the “art” in “artistic director.” His color work—he’s famous for his bright, sunlit blonds—is informed by a working knowledge of color theory and his cuts are shaped by a distinctly European sensibility. Although he’s fashion-forward (check out his Gaultier threads!), his styles and cuts are always feminine and flattering. There’s just one trend he’ll never follow: restricting himself to just coloring or cutting. “My clients love the convenience of not being separated and segregated,” he says. “Besides, art should be free.” After one transformative session in his chair, you’ll say â€˜Amen!’ to that.
Jean Jacques (aka “Jiji”) Barret looks like a club kid, but he’s got the sophistication and the precision of a seasoned pro. His scissor work is so assured that he can even cut his own hair. And he’s French (not that it’s relevant; it just makes him fun to listen to). Let him do your modern wedding updo or give the man in your life a style that’s too chic for a barbershop, too adult for Astor Place. Cuts at Richard Scott run from $85 and up, color from $75 for single process to more than $175 for a full head of highlights.
Peter Heimgartner, Christina Nappi, and Annie Raynor
760 N. Bedford Road â€¢ Bedford Hills
Christina Nappi is a master colorist who, in her 14 years in the business, has done stints with Vidal Sassoon, Bumble & Bumble, and Louis Licari. Now, as the owner of her own salon, she concentrates on creative color and color correction. (Tried to do it yourself and hiding under a hat? She’s your savior.) Artistic Director Peter Heimgartner anchors the cutting team. He moonlights at a Madison Avenue salon (we’re not allowed to reveal which one) and specializes in pixie cuts and haircuts for those who are trying to grow out gracefully. Toni & Guy alumnus Annie Raynor has some movie and magazine styling work to her credits. Her high-profile clients have been known to call for a quick blowout before talk-show appearances. Color starts at $65; cuts begin at $60. Master stylists charge $75 and up for cuts.
Lisa DeMaria, Naomi Krupowicz, and Theresa Pareta
50 S. Buckhout St. â€¢ Irvington
Lisa DeMaria was trained by Frederic Fekkai and worked at the Avon Spa in New York’s Trump Tower before becoming head of Riverspa’s “Hair Life” department. Now, this young stylist has put together a staff of hair cutters and colorists with big aspirations.
“We’re a Bumble & Bumble Network affiliated salon,” she says. “We send our stylists there for education and to keep them in the groove.” DeMaria specializes in precision cuts, sexy, short hairstyles, and updos for special occasions.
Colorist Naomi Krupowicz uses low-ammonia products and has a real gift for working with dark hair, particularly brunettes and dark blondes. DeMaria trusts her with her own highlights. “I have brown hair, and it can look orangey if you don’t know what you’re doing. Naomi knows what she’s doing!” If you like your cuts edgy and fresh, check out stylist Theresa Pareta. Her funky razor work rocks the spa. Haircuts at Riverspa run from $75 to $100; color from $75 for single process to $170 for a full head of highlights. Updos start at $95.
Catherine Censor is a personal trainer at Mount Kisco’s Saw Mill Club. Her hair is frequently sweaty.