It was a beautiful day. Actually, it was a ‘become beautiful’ day. Cathy had won herself The Florentine’s makeover and I was going to be her accompanying journalist. We were both a bit nervous. If some women make beauty treatments their daily bread, then Cathy and I come from a life-time of fasting. The Florentine’s instructions were quite simple: ‘Make sure Cathy accepts all special treatment.’ Her initial reaction to the make-over win had been, “I’ve won a make-over? Me? Oh, no. No, no, no, no, no”. My day’s mission, they said, was to push my image-shy friend over to the ‘yes’ column.
For the record, I have to say that salon and wellness centre Gabrio Staff Olimpo, did inspire its fair share of yes’s that morning. Would we like some fresh berry juice? Yes, grazie. Sweet music to soothe the psyche? Yes, grazie. Would Cathy like a manicure? Yes, grazie. A modern cut to suit her face? Luminous blond highlights to bring out her eyes? Certainly, grazie. Simply said, the wellness centre is well named. Call me strange, but I’m easily tamed by anything five-star.
Olimpo has been part of the Florentine beauty and style scene for over forty years. It was founded by Gabrio Staff, image consultant and entrepreneur with formidable world-wide experience in the sector. Via de’ Tornabuoni 5 hosts one of his three Florentine centres for beauty and well-being, which specialise in hair styling, image consultation, make-up, massage, and a whole variety of natural health and beauty treatments. In a word, Cathy and I were in the right place. Our hosts were brother-sister duo Anna and Giuseppe Spano. Anna is Olimpo’s manager and hair colour expert. As head stylist, Giuseppe works with clients, conducts seminars for hair-stylists and deals with fashion shows all over Italy.
“So what’s in store for Cathy?”
“A mix of harmonies. A cut designed for her face. One that considers geometry, volume and roundness. Something more modern, that enhances her cheek bones and creates differences in volume between her eyes and face”, Giuseppe explained.
Hmm. Looking good is both an art and a science. Cathy waited, breathless, as he snipped according to the ‘tiger claw cut’. 80% of haircuts at Gabrio Staff’s Olimpo follow this cutting technique. The secret lies in the slant of the scissors. Once the tiger claw was sufficiently sharp, Anna continued with colour. Next came the manicure and application of make-up that was soft enough to fit Cathy’s reserved nature. The results lovely. The night before the make-over Cathy had also visited Dr Jorgos Foukis, expert in aesthetic and cosmetic surgery, for a treatment to “take away the wrinkles”. Doctor to the rich and beautiful, especially among the English- speaking community, Foukis gave Cathy Botulinica Toxin treatment, commonly known as botox injections. As my friend waited for the ‘better version’ of herself to find full form, I took a stroll around the 600 square metre centre. Turkish bath, “emotional shower”, solarium, mud bath, vibrosauna, aroma therapy, Hatma massage, the cromotherapy room. There was a room for everything; it was Wonka’s Chocolate Factory turned well-being.
Once Cathy’s ‘new you’ was safely in place, we left Olimpo and went to 32/33r Piazza Pitti where we found Casini, designer Jennifer Tattanelli’s quality fashion boutiques. Her two side-by side shops specialise in clothes and accessories made in Italy. Custom-made shoes, bags and leatherwear on one side, fashionable but wearable high quality clothing on the other. Jennifer, half American, half Italian, was happy to see us. She introduced us to fashion consultant Martina Gnaga and the fun began. We waited as Martina chose Cathy’s new clothes from their enormous collection. It was a scene from a movie, a woman’s dream; Cathy could select anything she wanted and it was going to look good, guaranteed. The first outfit she tried was all pizzazz: a cream-coloured tailored suit with a leopard print collar shirt and the classiest gold pumps we’d ever seen. The woman was a knock-out, and the outfit suited her well. But if Cathy can be characterised as shy, then I can be described as practical. It’s good to dream. But it’s better to wear your clothes once they find their way into your closet, especially when we’re talking about Clothes with a capital C. “You’ve got to get something that you won’t be shy to wear”, I told my friend. Martina clued right in and chose her an elegant black pants-suit, combined with a light blue viscose top. She topped off the outfit with a darker blue printed scarf, three-quarter boots and a braided Casini bag that, for me, made the look. This outfit was ‘it’.
It was five in the afternoon when we finished. But the day, couldn’t be over yet. With a look like this we had to show someone. Cathy left the shop in her new suit and I called The Florentine. ‘Nobody go anywhere, we’re coming for the ‘after’ pictures’. The enthusiasm expressed for our newest beauty queen was genuine. So too was Cathy’s appreciation. “So did you have fun? Are you happy?” I asked.
“Oh yes. Yes, yes, yes, yes. Yes!”
There was the real change. It took eight hours, but we got her into the ‘yes’ column”. Mission accomplished.