A Conversation with

Patrick Eichler

San Francisco-based stylist and makeup artist Patrick Eichler honed his styling skills in NYC for 11 years and has worked around the world: for InStyle and The New York Times, designers including Alexander McQueen and Zac Posen, and celebrities ranging from James Franco to Liza Minnelli. But no matter where his talents take him, Patrick抯 signature high-volume looks trace all the way back to his native state of Texas.

We talked with him about where he gets his inspiration, the celebrity client who had him shaking in his boots, and his favorite hair-makeup combo for fall.

How did you get started in the business?
I grew up in San Antonio and was going to art school, for painting and 2D design, when I started working in a punky hair salon called Curl Up and Dye. I really got into it and just sort of rode the wave to see where it抎 take me. I ended up going to school for hair and makeup and started doing freelance gigs. Hair was my strength at first, but then I got much better at makeup and got a contract with MAC in 1995. But I eventually came back to hair. And I was lucky because when I did, big hair was back! The trend to do hair flat, flat, flat like Jennifer Aniston was over. It was kind of perfect timing.

So would you say big, full hair is your specialty?
I do have a fondness for big hair. After all, I started in Texas in the 80s!

You抳e styled so many diverse celebrities. Any really fun or surprising stories?
I worked with Liza Minnelli for about six months, styling her for public appearances. That was a ride because she抯 such an icon. Oh, and Debbie Harry! She does her own hair and makeup, so I was just booked to be on-hand in case she needed help. But then she wanted me to do her hair. Halfway through, I realized how huge it was (Madonna wouldn抰 exist without her!), and I started shaking. But it was great.

What kind of projects do you enjoy the most: editorial, or working with designers or celebrities?
Location shots are a lot of fun. My favorite kind of day is when I抦 working in a studio with a lot of space. I抳e got creative control, and that抯 cool - having so much freedom of expression. I love when that happens. When you抮e working on a celeb, it抯 great, but you抮e just making them look like themselves; it抯 a little more limiting.

What are some of your favorite trends you see coming up for fall?
I抦 feeling this drier texture: hair that抯 been a little bit ratted, then backcombed. It still has lots of movement and separation. And I抦 over glossy lips; I like the drier hair paired with a matte lip, which I get with a lip stain.

Where do you look for inspiration?
Right now, I抦 really inspired by Oribe hair in the early 90s. And I love looking back to anything vintage, especially from the late 50s to early 60s - there抯 so much to pull from there. And now there抯 this whole focus on an early Americana look: suspenders, men with handlebar mustaches and women with braids.

What are your go-to products from the Oribe line?
I love Original Pomade. It allows me to keep hair flexible throughout the day, and it smoothes ends and gives separation and definition. And Cr鑝e for Style: I work it throughout the hair, brush it out, and then add dry shampoo strategically to add volume.

Any upcoming work that you抮e excited about?
Fashion week! I go back to New York twice a year. It抯 so exciting because you get to see what other people are doing. It抯 just nice to be in such a creative environment.

What抯 your mantra for being a good stylist or achieving good style?
It抯 so easy to come in and work on automatic pilot, but stylists have to do their research. Hair and makeup people should have a point of view, know the tools, and be prepared. It抯 all about doing your homework.

- LAUREL LEICHT

Love it? Share it!