Today, I write these sentences with celebration in mind, to commemorate the life of someone who became far larger than life. The world lost legendary hairdresser Mr. Kenneth Battelle a few days ago, a gentleman whose life came with triumphant success and who rose to become a household name in the 1960s. If one thing can be concluded, it’s that his passing marks the end of an era… An era that has gone the way of Ms. Audrey Hepburn and Ms. Judy Garland, both former clients of his.
His name is of one from yesteryear, a name that is left to the cognoscenti of fashion and beauty history. In a generation where overexposure seems to have become the norm, the constant and tiring bombardment of names, Mr. Battelle built his reputation and career solely on talent.
This was Kenneth, the crossroads of class and elegance. The one who stood in the background, but had a hand in history. A snapshot of his life would seemingly be one from an encyclopedia. Ms. Lucille Ball referred to him as “God” and he was the one who made sure that Ms. Marilyn Monroe was camera-ready for her “Happy Birthday” performance to JFK.
He went working from beauty magnate Helena Rubinstein’s to millinery empress Lilly Daché’s, where he befriended another great- future fashion designer Halston. And famously so, he was the artist who ushered Ms. Jacqueline Kennedy into the White House with her newly styled bouffant, which became a craze. Days before passing away, Ms. Marilyn Monroe had been driving on the highway and called him from a payphone just because she wanted to hear his voice. Although quite reserved, he was the king among socialites. Ladies of every age and social class knew his name. The world will never understand the loss or know all the many stories that were a part of his life. I have not lost… We have lost. And an icon at that.
Farewell, Kenneth… Farewell. You gave us class, you gave us beauty. | Giuseppe