Van Cleef Hair Studio

Press & Publicity

Chicago Magazine

September 2011

Makeover 2: Nikki Evans 28 / Student / wants healthier hair

When she’s not studying or in class, this DePaul student juggles jobs hostessing at Osteria Via Stato and serving at Kuma’s Corner. “I get out of the shower, put a scarf over my hair, and put it up for the day,” she says. To control her curls, Evans first used a chemical relaxer at age seven; as an adult, she grew out the relaxer—but didn’t know where to go from there. “I had my hair in braids for three years,” she says. “It’s hard to find a salon that can handle my hair."


1. The Van Cleef team believes that Evans’s bohemian style could use a sleek upgrade. Hobson loves the idea of giving Evans a cute Taraji P. Henson bob, and Robinson thinks honey highlights would liven up her flat color.

2. Streets of London would give Evans a more geometric shape and carefully place accent highlights in neutral tones on the interior of her cut.

              Before                                                                     After


Since Evans has had a hard time finding a stylist who can control her curls, editors take her to Van Cleef, a salon that’s experienced with both natural and chemically treated hair. Robinson uses a sliced effect to frame Evans’s face in warm honey-hued highlights. Hobson, who does mostly blunt cuts, gives Evans a chic bob and blows her hair out straight to show off the precision cut and graduated angles. “With African American hair texture, it’s not a good idea to use a razor,” she explains.


All Evans needs to do is use her normal curling cream to define her curls, and the cut will do the rest. “Her bob is a really cute shape to wear straight or curly,” Hobson says. “Since she has an oval-shaped face, she could rock any style.”



Rachael Ray: Rachael's Daytime Talkshow February 2, 2009


"Michelle Obama's Style Secrets"     

Rahni and First Lady Michelle Obama just after finishing the First Family's hair early in the morning on Inauguration Day.

Michelle Obama has only been the first lady for a few weeks, but her chic head-to-toe style is already inspiring millions! And when it comes to her hair, it's always about the right style for the right event. The man who's been her hairstylist for more than 25 years, Rahni Flowers, explains his approach for his now-famous client.

"She has a very active life," he says. "She works out a lot, she's got two wonderful children, she has a job, and she's a wife. She needs a hairdo that functions and works with her. In a collaborative effort, we work to get the look that will work with her lifestyle." And since Rahni isn't always around, he also gives Michelle specific instructions on how to achieve that look herself.


With Rahni's Van Cleef Hair Studio in Chicago and the Obama family now in the White House, Rachael asks if he will continue to work with her. "It would not be a very pragmatic thing to fly me back and forth to Washington D.C. in light of the economic climate in the United States," he says. "What we agreed to do is I would help train people who live in D.C. to maintain her look and her schedule -- that would be a lot better."


Rachael, who interviewed Michelle before the election, comments, "She is such a beauty."   Rahni agrees, "She is -- inside and out."



Chicago Tribune Celebrity Traveler: Rahni

"Bali and Costa Rica Captivate Hairstylist for Michelle Obama"                                

By Anne Stein | Special to Tribune Newspapers
March 1, 2009

Michael Flowers, better known as Rahni, the name he was given while working at Vidal Sassoon, has been styling Michelle Obama's hair since the first lady was a senior in high school. One of the premier stylists to Chicago's African-American women, Rahni, 54, was born and raised on the West Side and has owned Van Cleef Hair Studio on West Huron for 21 years. He styled and touched up Obama's hair on Inauguration Day and late into the night, while the Obamas enjoyed parties and balls. We talked to Rahni as he was en route to New York for an appearance on the "Rachael Ray Show."

Question) What's your favorite vacation spot? Answer) I love Costa Rica, and I love Bali, Indonesia. (Rahni and his partner of eight years, Daryl, are building a home in Costa Rica where they'll eventually retire.) In Bali I like the architecture and I love the Balinese dancers; they tell stories with their hands, and we saw a show that depicted that. It was amazing. It's a very spiritual place; the people are quiet, nice and gentle. And the country's lush and green and very tropical. In Costa Rica the people are also very gentle, kind and generous. It's a very green country with a 97 percent literacy rate and one of the best health-care programs in the world. We're moving to Caimital, near a town called Nicoya, one of several "blue zones" in the world where people live to be 100 years old. It's a very clean country, not a lot of pollution. We're doing green building with solar and wind energy. We'll raise fruits and veggies and have fish. I'll be there with a corncob pipe, overalls and barefoot.

Question) What's your favorite hotel? Answer) The Four Seasons in Papagayo, Costa Rica [] It's one of the most beautiful hotels in the world. And the Four Seasons in Bali []. They both capture the culture and the environment of the places they're located in. In Bali there's a stone wall around the area you stay in. You walk into a garden, and each room is a separate structure, all linked by waterways. In Costa Rica, the grounds are magnificent, and they use local natural woods to build each individual structure.

Question) What do you seek out wherever you travel? Answer) The essence of what the place is all about. The cultural aspects of most places I go to is what I'll seek out.

Question) Do you check voice mail and e-mail when you travel? Answer) I do not have a cell phone. We leave our phone numbers with our staff and tell them to call if it's an extreme emergency; otherwise, don't call. I don't even know how to get an e-mail. When I go away, I'm fully away.

Question) Do you travel a lot? Answer) I do, pretty much for pleasure, about eight to 10 times a year. Since we're building a home in Costa Rica, we go down and check on things there. And I'm in a book club that meets every three months in Los Angeles. It's the Brothers Book Club, an African-American gay men's book club.

Question) What do you never travel without? Answer) Daryl. And a book. I typically read non-fiction. The last book I read was when I hosted the book club, called "Infidel" by Ayaan Hirsi Ali.




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