Ralph Capozzi, owner of Sayville’s Capozzi & Co. Salon, never shies from throwing his stylists into a challenge.
On Sunday, seven stylists from his salon vied in the runway competition Project: ClubArt 2012, in which stylists spend almost the full year immersing themselves in theme-appropriate inspiration, months planning their look, and a full day bringing it together before the runway show.
But in the competition’s fourth year, Capozzi added another level of difficulty. The theme, based on the underground club scene of the 1980s, was coupled with a juxtaposition. Each stylist also received a Renaissance-era painting and were asked to marry the two eras in their design.
About 200 people attended the event at the nightclub and restaurant Blue, in Blue Point, and proceeds from the $50 ticket sales will benefit America’s Vet Dogs, which provides companion dogs for injured veterans. After subtracting costs, Capozzi expected to donate at least $3,000.
Stephanie Balchi, 21, of Patchogue, won the night’s top prize - decided by a panel of four judges - for her design based on the painting “Portrait of a Lady in Yellow,” by Alessio Baldovinetti.
Balchi, who watched last year’s competition as a spectator and began working for Capozzi last summer, dyed hair extensions a bright yellow to match the dress in the painting, and weaved it into her model's dark brown hair in barrel curls and a French twist.
“I have purple in my own hair,” she said. “I love color. I wanted to show that and to show off all the knowledge and training that Ralph gives us.”
Capozzi said the judges were impressed by Balchi’s coloring, especially when other contestants used pre-colored hair pieces rather than take on the task themselves. He said the win was characteristic of Balchi, who has showed immense drive and enthusiasm in her 10 months at the salon.
Balchi, whose aunt Sonya is the salon manager and one of the judges, won $500 for her design. Another stylist, Paige Moloney, 23, of East Patchogue, won the audience choice award for her design, which Capozzi said incorporated the colors and textures found in her painting.
Capozzi said the event brought out an energetic crowd for a good cause, and he was once again impressed with his stylists.
“For me to hear my employees telling me, after this exhausting year that I put them through, that they can’t wait for next year,” he said, “I was very proud and really moved by it.”