Lynne Anne Donchez’s Career is One of Style and Giving
There are many ways to contribute to your hometown, but Lynne Anne Donchez of L.A.D. & Co. may have set a record — not only by making thousands of people in the Doylestown area look beautiful for work, special events, weddings, and even the fashion runway, but also by fundraising for good causes, entertaining audiences and devoting countless hours to civic organizations. Her hairdressing shop on State Street in Doylestown has been the hub of these activities for 40 years, where the hospitality always starts with a friendly offer of a cup of coffee by the woman who has organized and hostessed everything from Red Ball Galas to theatrical opening night celebrations.
Lynne Anne attended Central Bucks High School West (before it was called ‘West’) and then went on to hairdressing school in Allentown. While there she lived with her grandmother and paid her way by working backstage at hair cutting and coloring seminars, which gave her excellent hands-on training. She remembers being chosen as a ‘hair model’ for Clairol at that time. “Yes, my hair has appeared in a number of magazines,” she chuckles, ‘but only my hair!”
After working a few years for a salon in Buckingham she moved to Long Island, NY, to work for Macy’s Smith Haven. She picked up skills in various departments there and wound up in cosmetics, where she became proficient in making up the Macy’s runway models. But after a few years in New York she longed for home, and so returned to manage a salon owned by her friend Patty McMurray Tandy. One day after nine years there she went for a walk and saw a ‘For Rent’ sign on a little shop on East State Street. She counted the many windows on the shop – “you need lots of natural light for getting color right” she explains – and decided it was time to make hairdressing her lifelong career by opening her own salon. She obtained a bank loan and opened L.A.D. & Co. Hairdressing of Distinction. However, cutting, styling, coloring hair and running a salon never limited her community ventures.
Lynne Anne’s talent in hairstyling led to a demand from local theater groups for her skills, particularly in wig styling. Her father, Frank Donchez, had been a founding member of Buckingham’s Town & Country Players, and Lynne Anne inherited the theatrical gene from him. She has been the resident hair and makeup expert at Town & Country for decades, as well as serving on the board, and has also designed hair for productions at the Bucks County Playhouse and People’s Light and Theatre Company in Malvern. Among her favorite projects for theater were designing the extravagant La Cage Aux Folles at the Playhouse and Dangerous Liaisons at Town & Country. She also enjoyed her work as Lead Makeup Artist for the 2016 feature film The North Star, filmed in and around Buckingham.
Lynne Anne has long been a devoted supporter of Mercer Museum events, and she can be credited with bringing about one of its best-loved traditions. When the museum sought someone to portray its namesake, Henry Mercer, Lynne Anne asked her friend, actor C. Jameson Bradley, to fill the role. She spent hours attending to the details of Bradley’s costume and ‘look’ to match Mercer’s as closely as possible, and the actor now regularly appears at events, with his own dog portraying Rollo, Mercer’s Chesapeake Bay retriever. Lynne Anne has created a team of Goodwill Ambassadors – which she nicknamed The Three Musketeers – made up of herself and friends Joe and Monica Spadafora. Together they appear at many Museum events such as the Legacy Fundraiser, Cocktails at the Castle and the Gourmet Getaway, always in different and surprising theatrical costumes.
Her talents were lent to the Central Bucks Chamber of Commerce for eleven years as the Entertainment Chair and Chair for two Red Ball Galas, where she enhanced the festivities by featuring New Hope actor Michael Moeller and a local ballet company. Including ballet was a natural decision for Lynne Anne — “My exercise of choice is dance,” she explains, and she has a resume to back it up. She’s currently a member of the Dancing Divas at Doylestown Dance Central, and also danced in the Fractured Frolics, which raised the initial funds for the Central Bucks Senior Center. She dances in The Nutcracker yearly, having played the roles of the Maid and the hilarious Mother Ginger.
Through the years many dear friends worked with Lynne Anne on community projects. She teamed with Arlene Stachel and Michael Moeller in 1982 to create Doylestown’s Mardi Gras celebration, with colorfully festooned partiers stretching from her salon to the center of town. Being born in Bethlehem, PA, soon after Christmas has made her especially fond of Christmas celebrations, and she and friend Ron Martin have dedicated much time to enhance Doylestown’s “Santa’s House”- she styles Santa and his beard each year. Her lovely Victorian-era shop has long been appointed with delightful little replicas of vintage shoes – gifts from many friends such as Bill Weir, who gave her the first shoe of her collection of over 300. She still treasures an antique blue and white ceramic shoe given to her by Janet Fleck. She has helped with community events as varied as an AIDS benefit in Warrington to a hat exhibit at the Mercer Museum.
For about 30 years Lynne Anne organized and maintained the costume collection of Town & Country Players, preserving many wonderful costumes, hats and accessories in ‘tuppies’, the nickname she coined for the enormous plastic Tupperware containers that fill the room. She gives kudos to T&C for loaning out costumes that have been used in many fundraising activities and thanks to her friend Tony Townsend for his costume help as well.
In her 53 years in hairdressing, Lynne Anne has never stopped with her education in fashion, style and beauty, which she attributes to her parents’ educational legacy – her father was a high school teacher and her mother worked in the school office. Lynne Anne hosted hairdressing and coloring seminars in-house and traveled to update her own skills at workshops. One of her favorite experiences was learning from the renowned Martin Parsons, the premier ‘up-do’ stylist.
Throughout her career Lynne Anne has of course designed hundreds of hairstyles for brides and their bridesmaids, sometimes hosting a champagne-brunch type morning at the salon for the wedding party while they were being made up. She tells of one styling session that had to be postponed from Valentine’s Day to a later date because the groom had a medical emergency right before the big day. She happily opened the shop on Fourth of July to make up the wedding party – and the wedding then went off without a hitch.
Few who know Lynne Anne would deny that she is well-known for her fashion sense, particularly as a connoisseur of hats. “In fact,” she says,” some people are disappointed if my hat isn’t big enough!” Along with Gene Petrucci she emceed the “200 Years of Fashion” show at Aldie Mansion for Doylestown’s Bicentennial. She also participated in a workshop with Jane O’Connor, author of the children’s book Fancy Nancy. Many little girls had their birthday parties at L.A.D. over the years, delighted to have their hair styled and fingernails painted by professionals for the occasion. Often Lynne Anne would style the hair of American Girls dolls for the little guests – and sometimes had to keep the dolls overnight (“They’re staying for a night at The Spa, dear”) when the curls didn’t come out just right! She also fondly remembers the numerous times she helped out single dads, or dads whose wives were away on business, when School Picture Day was upon them and they had no clue how to fix their daughter’s hair – “Bail me out, Lynne Anne!”
Lynne Anne has now decided to move onward in a different journey: she will close the shop in May and begin hairdressing a little down the street at Salon 39. Her good friend Marge, whom she has known since seventh grade and who has worked at LAD for many years, will join her there. Before the opening of L.A.D. & Co. at 61 East State Street, the building was the site of the J.D. French clothing store; going back even farther in Doylestown’s history it was a printing shop. The printing was done in the back end of the shop, where all the skylights are – those were some of the many windows that Lynne Anne counted as she imagined starting up her own salon back in 1978. Some forty years later, after countless opening nights, brush cuts, gala fundraisers, wedding craziness, highlights, prom nights, big hats, up-dos, Santa beards and perms, she can look back with affection on the body of work she created for her hometown, put her feet up for a few moments, and smile.