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D.C. Stylist James Cornwell Dishes on Being Backstage With Betsey Johnson

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D.C. Stylist James Cornwell Dishes on Being Backstage With Betsey Johnson

Joi-Marie McKenzie

James Cornwell styles a customer's hair during the Hair to Heart fundraiser at PR AT Partners in Friendship Heights.

Stylist-to-the-stars James Cornwell, of rural Middleburg, Va., said last night he never thought he'd be working behind the scenes at New York Fashion Week, let alone rubbing elbows with fashion royalty.

"It's been an absolute whirlwind," Cornwell said Monday night at the Hair to Heart benefit.

"At New York Fashion Week, I did Betsey Johnson, which was beyond phenomenal. ... My station was right next to Betsey Johnson backstage so I was with her the entire time. She, like, borrowed scissors from me."

For nearly 10 years, Cornwell has provided local celebrities and Washington D.C.'s power players with fresh looks and unique styles. Ted Koppel, Dominique Dawes, Angie Goff and television personality Paul Wharton are among those who have graced his salon chair.

Cornwell, art director for PR AT Partners, was also one of the stylists at last night's Hair to Heart fundraiser benefiting Suited for Change, a non-profit organization that provides professional clothing and education to low-income women.

"It doesn't matter if I work with the big celebrities at New York Fashion Week," explained Cornwell. "Coming back and working with a charity like Suited for Change is like the icing on the cake. It really is a great feeling when you can use your craft to enrich people's lives and really make people feel beautiful."

Cornwell has plenty to look forward to as PR AT Partners sends local stylists to events like Miami Fashion Week, the Oscars and the Teen Choice Awards.

"I haven't been to those yet," Cornwell said. "But that's the next step."

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