Vartan doesn’t just cut hair. He sculpts and carves it to flatter the contours and angles of the face. Trained in France by the acclaimed Alexandre de Paris,
Vartan came to the United States in 1976 and worked with Xavier at Cinandre and John Sahag at his namesake salon. In 1979, Vartan struck out on his own and 10 years later, he opened the shop on the corner of 57th and Park Avenue. The rest is history.
According to Vartan: “When I first started in the business, the Farah Fawcett look was in vogue. Everyone wanted layers and highlights, no matter what type of hair they had. Many of my clients came once a week for a wash and blow dry,” he explains.
“Today, no one wants a cookie-cutter look. My clients want hair that’s easy to maintain and offers a number of styling options. I like a cut that swirls, twists and falls into place and doesn’t fight the hair’s natural texture or growth pattern.”
“I have many clients who have been coming here for 30 years. We’ve grown up together. Like a good marriage, a long-term relationship with a client requires trust, understanding and creativity. You’ve got to keep it fresh and exciting, so the client leaves feeling confident and happy.”
Vartan trained as an artist and studied at the Art’s Student League in Manhattan. His keen visual sense is evident in his work as a hairdresser and in artworks he displays at the salon. Every month, he chooses one young artist and showcases his or her work on the walls of the salon. “The artwork inspires our team and our clients, and it’s a great way to support up-and-coming artists.”
Asao was born in Japan and studied at the prestigious Mano School in Tokyo,
where beauty is a serious business. Scalp massage and shampooing are performed with surgical precision, and haircutting is calibrated by centimeters. After a two-year training period, he moved to London and spent 9 years during the swinging 60’s and 70’s at Leonardo’s of Mayfair, where the iconic Twiggy haircut originated. Sought after for his “crop tops,” Asao styled the hair of many Vogue models, creating cover looks for the likes of Jeanne Shrimpton and Penelope Tree. He softened his precision cutting technique to reflect the youthful freedom of the times, bringing a more natural look to a new generation of royals, rock stars and actresses -- from Princess Anne to Mick Jagger and Barbra Streisand.
Moving to New York to staff Leonardo’s flagship shop, it wasn’t long before Asao was introduced to Vartan and a new chapter in haircutting history began. Asao has been at Vartali since the early 80s and he has seen a lot of changes in fashion, in commerce, in products and techniques. One thing that hasn’t changed, he says, is the basis for a great cut: “It all begins with the shape of the face and the texture of the hair. Short, long, straight, curly – it makes no difference, as long as you follow the contours of the face.”
Hundred of happy clients would agree.
“This is not just a job for me, this is a personal passion,” says Ruben. “I’ve always enjoyed helping women find what works best for them and bringing it out for the world to see. Whether it’s their eyes, their skin or the texture of their hair, the right haircut and style can accentuate their best feature and enhance their overall look.”
Ruben, who hails from South America, began his career with three of the world’s most legendary stylists: Clive Summers from England, Suga from Japan and Madison Avenue’s very own Mr. Kenneth. At Kenneth’s, Ruben’s clients ran the gamut from movie stars to socialites. He styled the hair of Park Avenue doyennes, power moms and working women on the move.
His tenure at Vartali harks back to the 80’s. Here, he has built his reputation on precision cuts that hold their shape and support soft, loose, natural-looking styles. A big believer in body waves and loose perms, Ruben likes to use milder lotion and larger rods to give straight or fine hair some texture. He also likes to add rollers in combination with blow drying to lend some extra height and volume to a finished look.
“Cutting and shaping hair is a very personal experience. Balance, proportion and versatility are the key elements to a great look. I might have a vision in my mind about what I want to create and how I want the finished style to look, but the client’s participation in the process is essential.
Every cut is a co-creation and starts with a consultation. Even if it’s a client I’ve known for years. I still try to get a sense of where she is right now and how she wants to look when she leaves the salon. Is she a mom who’s constantly on the go? Is she a high-powered business executive who needs a polished look? Does she travel? Is she daring; does she like to experiment with fashion? I look at the texture of her hair and the shape of her face. I ask about her skill with a brush and a blow dryer and we decide together how to proceed.
Bogonia considers Vartali her second home. She’s worked at the salon for 24 years – almost as long as she’s been in the business. “I’ve seen a lot of changes in styling techniques and hair fashion trends since I’ve been in the industry, but one thing that stays the same is the feeling I get when I see the smile on a client’s face when she’s happy with her cut. That’s my greatest joy! That’s the magic of this business.”
Hairstylist and make-up artist Piet Sintuchai was born in Thailand and studied communication arts and advertising before cosmetology. Many of Piet’s clients come from the worlds of television and theatre where hot lights and camera angles can magnify flaws, wreak havoc with skin tones and cast unflattering shadows on the hair and face. Piet is a master cosmetologist, whose knowledge of light, color and contour, allow him to create dramatic effects or natural looks that are perfect for special events (like weddings) or everyday elegance.
Born in Osaka and trained in Tokyo, Masato apprenticed with the legendary Japanese hairstylist, Momotaro, who schooled him in the highly disciplined art and innovative techniques that revolutionized the salon industry back in the 1980s.
A master of precision haircutting, Masato is also an expert in Japanese straightening and smoothing. His cuts are carefully sculpted to frame and flatter the face. His skill with thermal straightening processes is evident in the great conditioning results he is able to achieve for his clients’ hair time after time.
According to Masato, “The difference between Japanese and American clients is that Japanese like to change their style every time they come to the salon, and Americans don’t. I think change is good. Once I know a client and have her confidence, I often suggest a subtle change to add a fresh note to a classic look.”
Massato is a stickler for conditioning products and believes that every cut can benefit from the addition of a great conditioning treatment.
The beauty business is in Frank Evangelista’s DNA. Born into a family of stylists, “Frankie” sidestepped the salon industry to pursue a path as an artist. He became interested in makeup and began to get gigs “painting faces” at runway shows for some of the biggest names on the hair fashion circuit. Ultimately, Frankie couldn’t resist the pull of cosmetology and decided to get his license. He trained at the Wilfred Academy of Hair and Beauty and apprenticed at the Pierre Michel salon, where he learned both Japanese and French techniques of styling and coloring.
“We were doing big hair back then, and I see it making a comeback today,” Frankie notes. “People are dressing up more, both at the office and after work. Dressier looks call for more finished hairstyles, and one way to achieve them is with roller sets and backcombing.”
Ask anyone at Vartali, and they’ll tell you Frankie is known for haircuts that last. When a cut grows in nicely and there’s no transitional phase, that’s the sign of a good cut.
According to Frankie, “It helps when you’re trained as a makeup artist. You see the whole face, the positives and the negatives, and you can emphasize or minimize certain areas of the face.”
Frankie’s clientele includes a lot of men who range in age from young professionals to gray-haired CEOs. He says, “The workplace is extremely competitive today and every man – no matter his age or position – needs to look well-groomed. For some, it means a great haircut, meticulously maintained, and a professional shave and manicure for a fresh, polished look. For others, it calls for a subtle touch of color to blend in with their gray and give them a more youthful appearance.”
Mika, a rising star in the Vartali pantheon, started working in the beauty business when he was just 19. Now, with six years of styling experience under his belt, this native New Yorker brings his passion for beauty, his fashion-forward eye and pleasing personality to work for our clientele.
Mika believes the most important part of any cut begins with the consultation. “I love creativity, and I enjoy coming up with ideas for a style. But the client has to be happy, and that means collaboration is a must. “ He says, “It’s my hair while you’re in the chair, but its all yours once you leave the salon, so the end result has to stand on its own.”
Mika’s clients are young and active, with busy lives and little time to spend in the salon. They need looks that offer low maintenance care and multiple styling options. Most want a cut they can wear straight or wavy, styled or natural, up or down.
Next time you visit the salon, have a chat with Mika about a new style direction
Drawing upon 30 years of experience (16 at Vartali),Tatyana offers a complete menu of waxing services for both men and women. Expertly trained in the science of epilation, the results she achieves are always smooth, soft and personalized to complement the clients’ skin type and lifestyle. Her gentle touch, speedy and precise technique ensure a relatively painless experience and a flawless result, with minimal risk of irritation.
Shan, a precision cutter and seasoned stylist, hails from North Carolina. He was trained by Suga, the Japanese master, and did runway shows with Oribe for Valentino and Versace. Shan brings a warm, Southern disposition and an Asian sense of discipline to his work.
“I always aim to make a woman look like a woman,” he says. “I don’t believe in following trends, unless they flatter a client’s features, hair type and lifestyle. Today, anything goes – long or short, straight or curly -- there’s no set look. Style is an individual thing. I like to give my clients options, but ultimately, the style we arrive at depends on what looks good on them and what they can handle in terms of maintenance.”
Shan doesn’t subscribe to the thinking that women over 40 should shy away from long hair. “That’s a myth,” he says. “I like longer hair and layers that soften the jaw or camouflage a sagging neckline. Most women look better with height at the crown, which I like to add by backcombing. I don’t like severe looks or hair that is stiff in any way.” Movement is key to all Shan’s looks and hair that swings is his stock in trade