A Conversation with

Richard Marin

In the game of hairstyling, Richard Marin is a mega-artist. His celebrity-client roster reads like the dream guest list at any A-list bash (think Cindy Crawford, Megan Fox, Diane Kruger and Tina Fey), and his work has appeared everywhere from the cover of Vogue to Coca-Cola advertisements to the red-carpet premiere of Bridesmaids. Something soothing for the rest of the population? His specialty is real-girl hair, maximized. In fact, he was the go-to stylist for Jennifer Aniston during her Friends years and everyone knows how that phenomenon turned out for hair enthusiasts.

We caught up with Richard to see how he broke into the industry (bet you weren抰 expecting catalogue work in Munich), why he really reads all the Twitter debates about his work, and how he perfected what Ms. Crawford calls the 搑ich-girl blowout.

How did you get started in the industry?
I started more than 20 years ago, and I did what you were supposed to 20 years ago. I was assisting here in L.A., and everybody who was fantastic recommended that I go to Europe. Back then, it was: 揋o to Europe匶ou won抰 make any money, but you抣l get incredible tear sheets.

I went straight to Milan for a week, and I pounded on everybody抯 door saying that I would assist, I would do everything for free. I got some great editorial there, and when I ran out of money, I went to Munich and did a lot of catalog work just to get cash to survive. Then I went back to Italy and worked backstage for the shows. That was boot camp.

How long were you in Europe?
I hung out there for about two years before making my way back to New York and getting my first American agent. It was the early 90s. The supermodel factor was out in full force. It was Christy, Linda, Cindy, Naomi. It was a very exciting time, and hair was super-important. It was big, retro hair. Beautiful.

And your next move?
I went back to L.A. Everyone told me I was going to ruin my career.

Why did you go?
I抎 met the girls from Friends on editorial shoots I met Jennifer Aniston and Lisa Kudrow while shooting for Elle, and they were the catalysts. It was the first year of their show, and they said I should work on it.

Were you a Friends fan?
I didn抰 watch much TV, but there was something in me that wanted me to do this. I did the show for four years. I had one of those 揳-ha moments at the beginning. I thought it was really bizarre...all these girls from around the country started writing about the hair, and it really hit me that it was so important to so many girls and women卼hat image. It was at the moment when everyone抯 focus was starting to switch from model to celebrity. I felt like I was right in the middle of the storm.

Everyone knows 揟he Rachel. How did you and Jennifer Aniston plan her look?
One of Jennifer抯 requests to me, the first day I started working on the show, was about that cut. She said, 揑抦 getting rid of The Rachel everybody in the world has it. She wanted to grow her hair out and start something else completely. We were very into straight hair. Bone-straight, flat-ironed hair卛t was about getting away from the layered, wispy, choppy haircut. But then, everyone wanted Jennifer抯 bone-straight, long hair. It was funny we couldn抰 get away from it.

What other looks stick out to you from that time?
At the end of my years on Friends, in 1999, we started doing beach waves. We all know where that went. I always say that Gisele and Jennifer Aniston are the queens of that look. It catapulted my career much more than anything else that I could have been doing at the time.

How has the industry changed since you got started?
The celebrity, fashion and music worlds are so interconnected. When I started, everyone was in their own camp music stuck with music, celebrity stuck with celebrity.

Do you like that everything抯 a mix today?
It depends on what day it is. Sometimes, I think it抯 incredible, and sometimes I think this was a huge mistake. I抦 surprised at how big the celebrity influence still is. I抦 not sure if it抯 peaked or it抯 still rising. The reality-star phenomenon is really blowing me away.

What do other stylists want to know from you?
How to get into this business. That stumps me now. It used to be formulaic. You went to Europe, you worked backstage, you did editorial for free匢 was talking about this, and the whole tear-sheet concept, with Sonia Kashuk the other day. You would write down on your journal what you did, put Post-Its on your desk to pick up the magazine when it came out, and that抯 how you抎 build your book. Now, you could do a shoot, and by the time you get home it抯 already online. So my advice is卨ove what you do, and do it a lot.

How do you stay busy now?
I look forward to awards-show season, and I really like working on press for movies. In the age of social media, it抯 really gone bonkers. I抦 not kidding when I worked on two girls from Bridesmaids, I left the house where I was getting them ready for an event, and when I got home it was already on Twitter.

How does that affect your work?
Social media sets the bar higher because your work is instantly critiqued. Once my girl leaves to go to a red carpet, from the time she steps out of the car, people are going to be talking about her look. It has to be pretty close to flawless.

What抯 your take on trends now?
We抮e exactly where we were 20 years ago. We抮e in that part of the cycle. It抯 just the higher-tech products that are different.

Do you read all the comments about your work?
Yes. All of them. I抳e been on that bad list, and it抯 not fun. It makes me take a second and third look at my work, and I think, 揌mm, were they correct? I still want my client to feel like she was the prettiest girl at the party, and if that抯 how she feels and three people disagree, then it抯 fine.

How would you define your style?
Through my career, my hair has always been fashionable but attainable. It抯 what real girls are doing. I never make my clients look like they抮e on the runway because runway-to-reality is rarely a good look.

Where is your style right now?
I抦 doing simpler looks like when I started out. I抦 getting away from waves卪ore into fuller, straight hair that still has a bend to it.

Always a good look
Cindy Crawford has a great name for it. She calls it 搑ich-girl blowout. It抯 not curled, not overworked卝ust beautiful, full shiny hair that moves.

Who are some of your favorite clients to work with?
Cindy and Diane Kruger.

Cindy Crawford is an icon. What抯 it like working with her?
She and I are pretty good friends. We still work together a lot. Sometimes she抣l say, Just do Cindy hair, and I know what that means. Sometimes she wants to go a little rock 憂 roll.

Where do you find inspiration?
Right now, I抦 super-influenced by Lauren Hutton from the 70s卼hat whole American Gigolo thing. I抦 loving Guy Bourdin pictures卼hat crazy, big hair. I抦 loving all the wigs that Gaga抯 doing.

What are a few staples that you always keep in your kit?
Dry Texturizing Spray. My boar-bristle round brush. My blow-dryer. If I have those things, anything is possible.

Follow Richard抯 latest styles on Twitter: @richardmarin

- JILL HILBRENNER

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