Ryan Teal Shares Kenneth Battelle
Kenneth catered to America’s royalty for years. People such as Jackie Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe claimed him as their hairdresser. Even with all of his fame he never divulged any gossip, winning him many celebrity. ~ Ryan Teal
In 1927, Kenneth Battelle was born in Syracuse, NY. Being the only son of a separated family required him to earn a living for his mother and four younger sisters at the age of twelve. At the age of seventeen, Kenneth joined the Navy.
While on leave in New York, he was inspired to learn a new skill after reading an advertisement for a local beauty institute. They claimed their graduates would earn $100 a week to cut hair. During his journey into our industry, he studied at the Wanamaker Academy of Beauty and continued his education at Marinello Academy of Beauty Culture while supporting himself by working in restaurants and playing the piano in local bars. After he completed his studies, he landed a position at the Starlet Beauty Bar creating a cutting edge “Club Cut” spending the next four years working on his skill.
Kenneth’s early career took him from New York to Miami, returning to New York only a year later to work for Helena Rubinstein for the next five years. While working at Rubinstein he learned the value professional credits can give a stylist. He often styled models and media superstars for magazine photo shoots, gaining him the credit he deserved for his beautiful session work.
Kenneth, prior to his passing was residing in New York, and was still partnered with Kevin Lee since 1986. Waldorf Astoria Hotel had been the home for Kenneth Salon since 1992, which Kenneth liked to refer to as his “Jewel Box”. Kenneth’s clientele was so loyal they were often known as the Kenneth Club.
In 2004 Kenneth hair care and brush line were created, later launching products for retail sales in 2006. Consisting of only 10 products total to keep looks uncomplicated for clients to manage and replicate at home. Battelle believed that his contribution to the craft was to persuade women to rely less on permanents, bleaches and hair spray, and was in favor of a more romantic look by using rollers to create natural-looking waves.
His innovative and easy-to-understand concepts earned Kenneth the coveted Coty Award. Kenneth was the only hairdresser to ever win the Cody, which was awarded to fashion designers annually for many years.
Kenneth created looks on legends, or maybe he created legends with his looks. Either way his styles have graced the heads of starlets and magazine covers that have impacted each of our own styles in some way or another. Hairdressers like Kenneth, are ones to look up to and to remind ourselves this journey is one the requires not only skill but hard work.
Sadly, Kenneth Battelle, two years after he cut his last head of hair, died at the age of 86 in his home in Wappingers Falls, NY on May 14, 2013.
For more information about “The History of Hairdressing” stalk Ryan Teal on Hairbrained or visit Teal Salon