What do Al Pacino, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Barbara Bush, Bob Dylan, Cal Ripken, Cindy Crawford, Ellen DeGeneres, Hillary Clinton, Hilary Swank, Jerry Seinfeld, John McEnroe, Johnny Depp, Katie Couric, Keith Richards, Leonardo DiCaprio, Martha Stewart, Mary Tyler Moore, Mel Gibson, Mick Jagger, Muhammad Ali, Nicole Kidman, Phil Donohue, Ray Charles, Robert Redford, Robin Williams, Rod Stewart, Rosie O’Donnell, Sting and Tom Cruise have in common?
She’s the celebrity hair stylist and makeup artist who has worked wonders on all those actors, singers, politicians and heavyweight champions (in and out of the boxing ring).
Last year, Cohl gave up her high-powered New York life (and salon) for quieter, more laid-back — but no less glamorous — Westport.
She joined Vincent Palumbo Salon. There — near Party Harty, Dunkin’ Donuts and Westport Hardware — she’s become one of our town’s favorite stylists.
Our names may not be (all) boldface. But Cohl is delighted.
Though she grew up in the San Francisco Bay area, she was always drawn to New York. Woody Allen movies pulled her in.
After training at Vidal Sassoon in San Francisco, she moved to his academy in London. There she met some of the world’s top fashion photographers — and honed her creative, calm, communicative approach.
In 1983 she made her long-awaited move to “New York. Her painter/ sculptor brother lived in the East Village. Through him — and his parties — Cohl befriendedvery interesting people. One of her first hair-cutting clients was Robert Mapplethorpe.
At a bar she met Maripol. The stylist had just created Madonna’s look. Maripol’s friend had a salon on Madison Avenue. Cohl started work there the next day.
She opened one of New York’s first boutique salons in 1991, in the then-stylistic wilderness of the Flatiron district. She also freelanced, doing hair and makeup for celebrities before photo shoots.
Her clientele expanded beyond entertainers. She worked with 3 first ladies — Barbara and Laura Bush, and Hillary Clinton — at the White House, and the Waldorf Astoria.
“They’re just people like us, doing a job they love,” she says of her many famous clients. When she meets them at their apartment or home, they open the door in bathrobes or towels.
“I like people,” Cohl says. “Every day is different. My job is to be supportive and comforting, so they look and feel great.”
At her salons too, she enjoys giving someone a change that can lift their spirit.
For many year, Cohl owned a New York apartment and country home. She likes to kayak, bike and garden, but after years in the city she longed to see sky, trees and water every day. When her daughter graduated from high school, Cohl was ready to create a new life.
She knew Peter Coppola. He’d just teamed up with Vincent Palumbo. Soon, Cohl was on a train to Westport. She liked Vincent’s energy, and the smiles she saw on customers and stylists in his salon. He hired her immediately.
But Cohl needed time to make sure the move felt right. She kept her apartment, and commuted to Westport from New York.
It did not take long for her to know her instincts were right. Through the salon, she learned that Westport is “down-to-earthy, friendly, smart and sophisticated.”
She looked at real estate. A Southport cottage seemed perfect. The owner — an 86-year-old woman — had been a model back in the day (and a 5-time cover girl for Vogue).
“It was a perfect fit,” Cohl says. “It was meant to be.”
There’s a horse next to her cottage. Every day before work, she feeds him carrots. “I feel like I’m in the country — not the suburbs,” Cohl notes.
She looks forward to a summer of kayaking and gardening. She still goes to Manhattan twice a month, and does celebrity work on request.
But, she says, “I’m enjoying a different part of my life. I love what I do, and I’ve always felt like I’ve never worked a day in my life. But this is really special.”