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Spotlight Profile: Oribe

Fashion's fave hair stylist

The stylist who made hair central to fashion.

If the Fall/Winter 2009 Marc Jacobs show taught us anything, it's that hair is as much a part of fashion shows as the actual fashions. This concept is one that was pioneered by celebrity and fashion hair stylist Oribe.

Back in 1992, the New York Times noted that in light of Chanel's show, where hair was shown deliberately disheveled - a style created by Oribe - hair was starting to take center stage just as much as the fashions. There is no denying that Oribe has helped define the notion of fashion over the course of a career of unprecedented longevity and scope. His combination of session, celebrity and salon work spans over three decades. 

It began for Oribe in the late 80's when he teamed up with photographer Steven Meisel. His first big break came when he worked with Christy Turlington for a Commes des Garáons ad campaign. Oribe had teased and spun Turlington's naturally curly hair and flecked it with stems of metallic leaves which she also held between her teeth. It was wild, clean and unexpected all at the same time. From Christy to Naomi, Oribe is in no small part responsible for the now iconic looks of the supermodels of the late 80's and early 90's.

In the early 90's, Oribe brought back the wig, which he expertly cuts to look as large as necessary. He also introduced wild colors and started the trend back to rollers. Today he travels with up to ten suitcases filled with every species of hairpiece and extension collected over decades.

The 90's also saw Oribe working with Gianni Versace. The two shared an affinity for Miami decadence, and Oribe created powerful imagery with Versace, such as the advertising portfolios by the photographer Richard Avedon of Kristen McMenamy and Nadja Auermann frozen in mid-tussle, or Stephanie Seymour posing with Marcus Schenkenberg, with Oribe-spun Medusa curls that Oribe lifted into the air with cross-currents of wind.

It was also in the early 90's that Oribe opened his Fifth Avenue salon at Elizabeth Arden. In 1994, he introduced a styling product to his clients - a colored pomade inspired by the two-tone hair of comic book heroes, with packaging design direction from Karl Lagerfeld. One of the most noteworthy milestones in Oribe's career, at least in terms of pop culture, occurred in 1997 when Jennifer Lopez called for Oribe. The hair aficionado was ready to take on styling hair outside of the fashion realm, and since his first meeting with Lopez when he accompanied her to Miami to shoot the cover of her first album, On the 6, he has become one half of one of the most famous hair stylist/celebrity pairing this world has ever seen.

Amidst it all, Oribe has continued to work on the world's most influential ad campaigns and with the most renowned photographers and models including Louis Vuitton, Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott, Kate Moss, and Agyness Deyn. Of particular note, Oribe gave Deyn's signature pixie cut a sparkling metallic makeover brushed into shapes usually reserved for video game characters for a Pop cover shoot.

Today, Oribe is taking his 30-year heritage of hairdressing and his love of glamour and individual beauty, and translating it into his eponymous line of hair products that combine old world hairstyling with new world technology and fine ingredients. The result is a line of edited products that were first tested during his various high-profile styling opportunities. While still unnamed, 24K Gold Pomade dressed the hair of Scarlett Johansen on the cover of the March 2008 W; Rock Hard Gel held the strong slicked back looks in an 18-page spread from W's June issue. Impermeable held his created looks against the humidity for the Beach Spread in the Summer 2008 of V, and Superfine was the hair spray and hair perfume on set during the last Tom Ford ad campaign. From formulations to packaging Oribe's line is truly utter luxury.

Oribe continues to exert an unparalleled influence on the worlds of fashion and beauty, and he shows no signs of stopping.

(Images courtesy of the Fashion Spot forums.)

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