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CELEBRITY FASHION

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Valentin's Day: Legendary Hairdresser Sets Up Shop in NYC

By Jeannette Park
Fashion Wire Daily NY - Madison Avenue ladies, be prepared. If your new neighbor comes knocking at your door, don't expect him to borrow a cup of sugar. Rodolfo Valentin, hairstylist to New York's prettiest and poshest, has joined the neighborhood and is more likely to ask for seaweed, paraffin, shea butter or sea crystals for his menu of salon and spa services.

After much anticipation, Valentin's Madison Avenue salon has finally opened, to the delight of the Manhattan clientele who have faithfully trekked to his spa in Cedarhurst, Long Island every month. The 9,000 square foot Long Island salon, which was recognized as one of the top four spas in the US by American Spa magazine, is only a year old but the Argentine-born Valentin has been catering to his US clients for 20 years and attributes his success to devotees like Claudia Cohen, Susan Hess, Ivana Trump and Antonia and Johanna Bennett, daughters of legendary crooner Tony.

"[The salon] is my baby and every baby grows," Valentin told FWD in his thick, South American accent at the opening of his new atelier. Dressed in a black velour outfit (unzipped far enough to show his golden brown chest), accented only by a white scarf reminiscent of a fighter pilot, Valentin said, "I don't have to feed my baby because the clients do that for me...I have been touched by God."

Born to Italian and Spanish parents, the 6-foot-3-inch Valentin moved to the United States in the early '80s after stints in France (working under renowned stylist Alexandre de Paris), Milan and India. He was offered a position in Hollywood working on film sets but was drawn to New York's creative energy and decided to open up his first salon in Cedarhurst. Best known for his hairpieces made from imported human hair, Valentin is hush-hush when it comes to revealing the names of some of his top patrons.

"I am like a plastic surgeon for hair and my clients don't want to be associated with that," he said.

Valentin and his partner of 27 years, Jorge Peres, want the new Manhattan salon to be an extension of their Cedarhurst outpost. While not nearly as spacious as its parent location, the Manhattan atelier offers a full range of hair services, including Valentin's award-winning hair coloring menu, hair design and hairpieces. Beautifully designed with handmade furniture and complete with a staircase that displays some of the stylist's best wig creations, the salon offers a menu from Serafina and includes a free bottle of nail polish after a manicure for next day touch-ups.

This past year, Valentin founded "Sofia's Hair 4 Health" in memory of his mother, who lost her hair while undergoing chemotherapy treatments. Once a month, Valentin donates a complimentary tailored wig to an individual in the low-income bracket who is stricken with cancer.

One would think Valentin egotistical considering the accolades he has received - Hair Coloring Techniques Award in Milan, Grand Design Award for Hair Designers in 2001, as well as the recognition from American Spa - or by the way he acknowledges his own talent by saying "[the business] has been very easy for me to conquer," but the gentle giant is nothing if not humble.

"Even if I am so successful, I am not the star," he said, praising his staff. "Rodolfo Valentin is a, how do you say, an octopus that reaches out and says, 'Follow me and learn from what I learn in life.'"

Rodolfo Valentin's Manhattan Private Atelier for Hair is located at 1020 Madison Avenue, 212.327.4227 or www.rodolfovalentin.com.



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