Picture this: Monte Durham, the debonair fashion director of TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta, strolls through Old Town Alexandria, his adopted home. Folks pass him on the street, and his keen eye for a chic coiffure assesses every ’do. Finally, he spots his subject. “You need to come into my shop,” he says in his charming drawl. “I’ll change your whole image.” Hair crashers, he jokes. Sure, he’s being cheeky—and staging a scene straight out of reality TV—but it speaks to the mantra behind his new, eponymous boutique salon.
“You walk into a salon and in two hours you can have a different look,” he says. “The opportunity in such a short time to change one’s [style]… and make them feel good about themselves—that’s what I love about doing hair.” When it opens in the spring, the space on Union Street will be outfitted in a sleek, modern vibe with Parisian elegance; he’s working with local designer Robin Wagner on its interiors, which will pop with color and texture—a black lacquered wall, antique chair settings and a custom portrait of Jackie Kennedy in his private studio. “[You’ll] feel the quality,” he says. Here, he makes waves.
Tell us about the space.
In the main studio, we’ll have three stations [plus my private room]. The salon will exclusively use MONTE products. With the opening, I’m launching a men’s line of pomades, clays, paste. The equipment will be the latest and greatest—chairs will be custom. [There will be] Egyptian cotton towels, filtered water, Hikari scissors for precision.
Any trends you think will dominate in 2020?
We’re still going to see softer blondes and more natural hair color. Ombre [will remain popular]. Haircuts will be right past the shoulders; one trend is a return to manageability and healthier-looking hair.
How can we keep our locks at their best in the winter?
Don’t let hot air blow on your hair or skin—it dries it out. Keep the heat on your feet. Don’t use a deep-cleaning shampoo; you’re roughing up the cuticle. You want to be ginger about how you wash: It’s not the hair that’s dirty, it’s the scalp that’s creating the oil. And when you’re highlighting and going lighter, remember that you’re pulling out color. When you do that you rough up the cuticle, so invest in a good conditioner, especially when things dry out faster in winter, with hats and scarves.
Where do you get those dapper suits?
Saks Fifth Avenue at Tysons Galleria. I’m not an online shopper: I have to touch and feel.
Where else can we find you in Alexandria?
The Warehouse is one of my favorite restaurants. Rumor has it my caricature will be on the wall.