--Billy Baldwin, on His Design of Kenneth's Hair Salon, Billy Baldwin Decorates
Kenneth and his salon reached their apogee in the days leading up to Truman Capote's 1966 Black and White Ball. Katharine Graham, Capote's guest of honor, was but one of many partygoers who sat under Kenneth's dryer to prepare for the party.
The others in Kenneth's appointment book that day comprised a Who's Who of New York society, including both the former Mrs. Leland Hayward (Slim Keith) and the then-current one (Pamela Harriman). Kudos to the scheduler who timed those departures and arrivals. Yet, that was nothing new for the salon. Kenneth was accustomed to such matters. During the Kennedy administration, he styled the hair of both Jacqueline Kennedy and her husband's occasional paramour, Marilyn Monroe.
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis began with Kenneth before the White House years and stayed long after. Kenneth even traveled to Washington to groom her the day of that fateful trip to Texas in November 1963. He was with her for happier moments as well. In 1986, he was the hairdresser for Caroline Kennedy's wedding to Ed Schlossberg. Kathy McKeon, personal assistant to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, wrote in Jackie's Girl: My Life with the Kennedy Family that Kenneth woke up extra early to style even her hair before moving on to Caroline's bridal party. It was a magnanimous gesture on his part, and an amusing experience for McKeon. When he was shampooing her, Kenneth muttered, "Oh, you sexy bitch." McKeon was left to wonder, "Was this how [Mrs. Onassis's] shampoos went all those years?"
When Kenneth died at the age of eighty-six in 2013, his library included warmly inscribed books from grateful clients. Three such examples are currently on offer at the Nick Harvill Libraries store: The World of Gloria Vanderbilt signed by Gloria Vanderbilt, Allure signed by Diana Vreeland, and Tiffany Taste signed by that book's editor, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.