This article was originally published in the September 2010 issue of Salon.
Q: What was your first big break in the industry?
A: It was 1976, and I started working with GQ magazine. They would send me in as a replacement when someone would get sick or couldn’t make it. I remember getting to work with Francesco Scavullo that way. I could style up to four top girls in one day—and that was big.
Q: Who were you most star-struck to meet for the first time?
A: Way Bandy. He was the biggest makeup artist in the world; he was just amazing. I remember he came up to me at Studio 54 and told me I had a great nose (laughs).
Q: How have you grown as a hairstylist over your 30-year career?
A: When you’re constantly working and you truly love what you are doing, you discover new ways of innovating and pushing yourself.
Q: What’s your wildest party story?
A: From 1988 to 1993 (laughs).
Q: What’s your philosophy or motto as a hairstylist?
A: I always try to make a woman look beautiful, sexy, extravagant and a little exaggerated. I love the oddness in things. The one weird thing about a person’s hair is what makes it great. In every one of my hairdos there’s always one hair out of place…unless I am deliberately going for perfection.
Q: Tell us a few of your most memorable moments working with celebrity clientele.
A: One of my favourite celebrity moments was when I worked with Sophia Loren at the Ritz Hotel in Paris in the mid 90s. It was so amazing just to meet her and to give her my signature style. I gave her lots of hair and she loved it.
I also loved working with Virna Lisi, the Italian movie star, for Vogue Italia. There’s a great picture of the two of us, where I’m holding a big can of hair spray. I also loved working with Barbra Streisand for Vanity Fair.
Q: Can you tell us about your first project with famous photographer Richard Avedon?
A: It took me awhile to really get some great breaks. I had been in New York for three years, and one day Richard Avedon was looking for a new look for Self magazine. They called me because they wanted someone young and fresh, and I guess I was young and fresh back then, so I got the job.
Q: What’s your best- kept hairstyling trick or secret?
A: No secrets, especially since Oribe Hair Care came out. I’m completely exposed. I’m like the masked magician who comes on TV and tells you all the tricks. I learned a great lesson from a wonderful agent, Omar. He said, “The more you share, the more you grow.”
My dad also told me to never say no… never say you can’t do something. He said that somehow, by trying really hard and having confidence, it will come out your way. A lot of my work is about just trying it my way. It’s about that confidence.
Q: What are the top four lessons you’ve learned over the past 30 years in this industry?
A: Stay true to yourself. Stay humble. Stay interested. And, above all, stay passionate.
Q: What is your proudest accomplishment and why?
A: There have been many, many highlights.
Certainly something I am most recently extremely proud of is the Oribe Hair Care line. In a sense, it’s my 30 years of experience in a bottle.
Q: What made you decide to start your own product line?
A: Through the years you learn to mix products. I’ve always been a product snob. I learned to combine things in my own way and always wanted to have the opportunity to work with chemists to find the right balance. The opportunity came up with the right partners and it was the right time in my life.
Q: What are your future plans?
A: The future for me is all about Oribe Hair Care. My aspirations for the line are to continue developing and making products that are modern but with a nod to the old world. Products that will take us through the next decade with style and make it easier for hairstylists. I also want to meet more hairstylists.
I’m enjoying being exposed to so many types of wonderful people.
On the editorial front, I’m doing my best work now, so I want to continue working and trying new things, creating new styles and just evolving with fashion.
Photos: Peter Arnel, Craig McDean, Oribe Hair Care