NotebookNovember 1, 2007 By: American Salon Staff American Salon
While Daly landed a job working on Broadway, Balding had a tough time finding a salon that felt right. Then she met Rodney Cutler, who owns two successful salons in Manhattan. "My husband waited across the street at Starbucks while I talked to Rodney," says Balding, who thought the interview would be like all the others. To her surprise, she and Cutler got along "like a house on fire." Cutler was impressed with Balding's wealth of editorial experience. His staff is comprised largely of session stylists whose work is featured in every major fashion magazine. Many of them can also be found backstage during fashion week, where they work with important designers like Cynthia Rowley, Marc Jacobs and Carmen Marc Valvo. According to Cutler, money can't buy the kind of publicity that being at fashion week generates for his salons. "Rodney also liked the fact that I don't straight-cut everything but use a texturizing technique I developed while working for Rita," says Balding. "I also think he likes having a lot of different nationalities working at the salon because it gives the place an international flavor."
Cutler Salon in Manhattan
She may be onto something. Dean Holcombe, the latest addition to the staff, is a Brit who worked for Toni&Guy in London before moving to Australia in 1990, when he was just 26. He quickly became co-owner of a salon in Melbourne called Shibui—the name means "understated elegance" in Japanese. Business was so good he opened a second location, but in the past few years, he began asking himself if that was all there was. At 41, he decided to chuck everything and move to the Big Apple. "I just felt that if I didn't do this now, I'd regret it for the rest of my life," he says. A former staff member, who'd moved to New York City nearly eight years before, recommended him to Cutler. A week later he got a job offer. Unlike Balding, Holcombe hadn't done a lot of editorial work. "I'm a cutter who's not that good at dressing hair," he says. Nevertheless, he volunteered to work for Goldwell/KMS during Australian Fashion Week, where he began shooting video of the goings-on backstage. What he discovered was that he had a knack for it, and he's been honing those skills at Cutler. "I've been shooting video of Rodney's team during fashion week," says Holcombe, who's now in charge of multimedia. He's also trying to build a clientele at the salon where he specializes in dry-cutting.
Jenny Balding gets a model ready to walk the runway during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York City.
It's quite an adjustment for someone who was practically a household name in Australia. Still, Holcombe has no regrets. "I was so ready for this move," he says. "I have a handful of pretty good friends here, and I actually found an apartment on my first day, which I understand might qualify me for The Guinness Book of World Records. All in all, I think it's been a good thing for both Rodney and me." While Balding admits that she misses her friends and family back home, she also knows that they'll always be there for her. "I love New York," she says. "Coming here was the best decision I ever made." —MARIANNE DOUGHERTY