Post by diane9247 on May 3, 2015 8:51:23 GMT
That Hitchcock blonde is Tippi Hedren. Forty years ago she visited Hope Village in Weimar, California, a temporary settlement for Vietnamese who had escaped after the 1975 fall of Saigon. She was so taken with the women, and they with her Hollywood fingernails, that she sent her own manicurist to teach them skills they could use to make a new start in America. She also arranged for the women to learn sewing and typing. They were wives of high-ranking South Vietnamese military officers, who had left everything behind in the madness of escape from certain execution by North Vietnamese troops.*
Forty years after the fall of Saigon, 51% of nail technicians in the United States - and approximately 80% in California - are of Vietnamese descent. And many are direct descendants of that first class of women inspired by the nails of a Hitchcock blonde.
"Vietnamese refugees on US carrier, Operation Frequent Wind"
by U.S. Marines in Japan Homepage. Public Domain via Wikimedia
The Vietnamese gave the nail salon business a radical makeover. In the 1970s, manicures and pedicures cost around $50 - fine for Hollywood starlets but out of reach for most American women. Today, a basic "mani-pedi" can cost around $20 - largely due to Vietnamese American salons, which typically charge 30-50% less than other salons, according to NAILS Magazine.
Miss Hedren (top, center) with one of her graduating classes in the 1970s.
Tam Nguyen, president of Advance Beauty College, called Tippi Hedren the Godmother of the nail industry and everyone in that field was either trained by her or knows of her. Today, daughters and granddaughters of those early students are running their own salons. This BBC article caught my eye and explains something I had wondered about long ago: how, within what seemed like a month's time, did every neighborhood in the San Francisco area, where I was living at the time, acquire a Vietnamese nail salon? Sometimes several of them. Now, we all know.
The gorgeous Tippi Hedren in 1966...
* S. Vietnamese who were not officials or employed by Americans had a longer and more perilous journey to the USA.
Hope Village Weimar.kmz (833 B)