A month ago, I was invited to the grand re-opening of Giovanni & Pileggi, now located in an 1840’s Federal Period Townhouse at 256 South 16th Street in Center City Philadelphia. A few weeks later, I was invited back to the salon – this time, to have my hair cut and colored by one of their talented stylists.
Last Tuesday, I arrived at the salon and was greeted by Franc, whom I had met back in April at the opening. His friendly demeanor put me at ease, at least a little bit. But having been in a 13-year monogamous relationship with my hairdresser Erik, I was having heart palpitations about putting my hair in someone else’s hands.
When Franc sat me down in his chair and asked me what I had in mind for my new do, I surprised myself when I responded, “Do whatever you think is best. I trust you.” I removed the elastic from ponytail and Franc sized up my mane. “Highlights,” he said assertively. “Highlights will give your hair dimension.”
After mixing up my color, he quickly applied the mixture and foil to sections of my hair with amazing dexterity. While working his magic, I remembered I was there in a journalistic capacity and began firing off questions.
Franc told me that as a student at The Philadelphia High School for Creative And Performing Arts, he befriended some girls in the dance department and started doing their hair. Not long after, he realized that hair was his calling and enrolled in beauty school. After graduating from beauty school, he moved to New York City and worked at Bumble & Bumble. It was during his years in NYC that he noticed how segregated the industry was – white customers patronized white salons and black clients patronized black salons. So Franc decided to teach himself how to work with ethnic/textured hair, so that he could cater to all patrons.
In New York, he honed his craft working at the Bumble & Bumble salon – as well as doing fashion shows and photo shoots. But a few years ago, he got a little homesick and decided to move back to Philly to work exclusively in a salon setting. “I much prefer working in a salon because I enjoy helping regular people transform into better versions of themselves,” he said. “It’s not that hard to make a model look good. Plus salon work allows me to be creative. When you’re doing editorial or runway work, you’re following someone else’s template.”
After rinsing the dye out of my hair, a gloss was applied and allowed to marinate – to add all-over shine to my dull locks. But before long, I was back in Franc’s chair. He quickly blow dried my hair and whipped out his shears. Again, I shocked myself by telling him to do what he thought was best. He decided to keep the length, but add some layers that would give my hair shape and movement. Then he styled it without any input from me. So how’d he do?
Amazing, right?!?!?!?!?! I love my hair and I love Franc for transforming me into a better version of myself.
If you live anywhere near Philadelphia, even if it’s kind of a hike, you must get to Giovanni & Pileggi and pay Franc a visit.