Monte Durham has dished out advice and dolled up brides as fashion director on TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta since 2010. But did you know this Atlanta reality show star is an Alexandria resident? After putting down roots in Alexandria some 25 years ago, Monte is ready to treat your roots with a waterfront salon set to open in Old Town in September. We spoke with Monte to learn what’s in store for Salon MONTE, from a celebrity makeup artist with clients like Meryl Streep to a potential reality show in the works.
To schedule an appointment with Salon MONTE, call 703-217-7077.
1. Get to Know Monte
Based in Alexandria’s Belle View area with his husband Jack, Monte’s favorite Alexandria activities include biking Mount Vernon Trail, shopping King Street and taking in “whatever sparks [his] eye” for inspiration. Recently, Monte is keeping things close to home. “What has kept me sane [during quarantine] is that I have cleaned every single drawer in this house,” Monte shares. “Everything in this house has been organized, and I’ve been donating to Capital Caring Hospice.” When out and about, Monte can be seen sporting face masks designed by Allison Priebe of Queen Bee Designs.
Since well before quarantine, Monte has been developing Salon MONTE, a boutique waterfront salon adjacent to Hotel Indigo on S. Union Street in Old Town Alexandria. Accustomed to living off his phone while traveling, Monte jokes, “I’ve acclimated to my computer and I’m proud to say I can put in my password without hunting and pecking.” All his hard work has paid off for the immersive salon set to open September 13, 2020.
2. Get a Refresh from Top Hair Stylists and a Celebrity Makeup Artist
Tucked into the waterside space next to Hotel Indigo, Salon MONTE consists of three studios and Monte’s own private space. Customers can enjoy deep conditioning, scalp care and the skill of stylists with decades of experience.
“Each of the stylists is incredibly talented and at the top of their game,” Monte says, as he also shares praise for the shampoo staff and everyone at the back bar. Monte himself led a successful career in hair styling before entering the wedding and reality TV realm. “I’m beyond blessed with this team,” he raves. Additionally, he has recruited bridal hair stylists to travel off-site and is eager to serve bridal parties who come to the salon. “We welcome the opportunity to celebrate with you.”
For a final touch, celebrity makeup artist Carl Ray signed on to join the team. Ray’s roster of clients has ranged from Claire Danes to Kerry Washington and Leonardo DiCaprio to Lin-Manuel Miranda, landing his work in top beauty magazines such as Vogue, Essence and Elle.
3. Relax with Health Measures in Place
From washers and dryers on back-order to wallpaper stuck in London, the pandemic has added its share of setbacks to the salon’s opening. In Monte’s own words, “I felt like I was in the driver seat—now I feel like I’m hanging on the bumper!” However, Monte and his team have rallied to create an oasis in an otherwise distressing time.
The salon has instituted safety measures to protect clients and staff alike. “Masks are required,” Monte says. “We will abide by all the rules and regulations that the state and city have set forth. All of the staff members have been certified by Barbicide’s COVID-19 Certification.” Stations will be separated by seven-feet walls. Ever the gentleman, Monte laments, “As much as I would love to serve you a cup of tea or coffee in a beautiful glass or cup, we will hold off on that. Everything will be recyclable.”
4. See Stunning (and Symbolic) Visual Touches
If you spend any time at all with Monte, you are sure to circle back to his admiration for Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Fittingly, Jackie will be on-site to greet guests in the form of a custom portrait gifted to Monte from the Ronald McDonald House, alongside the Spirit Award for his work with underprivileged students. Originally intended to be in Monte’s own studio space, the portrait can be found generously re-positioned out front, ahead of the salon’s shampoo and relaxing area.
With yellow touches matching Jackie’s coat and pill-box hat in the portrait, the floral wallpaper pictured above is in loving memory of Monte’s mother, Rose Durham. Monte wears a gold rose brooch in memory of his mother and best friend.
The overall color scheme is based on his hair care products’ design—think deep reds and sophisticated black and white touches, combined to create a “casual chic” atmosphere.
5. Cross Your Fingers for a Reality TV Show
Hoping to see Salon MONTE (and the city) streaming on a screen near you? Monte shares that a sizzle reel is in the works to pitch a reality TV show. Monte and a media group are adapting to the challenging environment and restrictions by combining footage from Skype interviews with Monte and his staff with B-roll from the salon’s grand opening weekend to create a short promotional video to pitch to networks.
6. Experience the Salon from Home
Want the full Monte experience but unable (or not ready) to visit the salon? Experience Monte’s trademark products, available on Amazon, from the comfort of your own home. Use the five-step products, from “M” for Moisturizing Shampoo to “E” for Ever Hold Hair Spray, to treat your tresses as you look forward to stepping foot in Salon MONTE.
Keep tabs on Salon MONTE and the latest Alexandria updates on our blog.
Header Image Credits: Monte Durham (left and center) and Three Seas, Inc. (right)