Oribe

In 1992, The New York Times noted that runway hair, once designed to show off the clothes, had itself become a big deal. The occasion was a Chanel show at which the deliberately disheveled hairstyles created by Oribe, already a lauded "top stylist" and "hair maestro, received as much attention as the clothes; Oribe had even obscured the faces of some of the models with hunks of hair. "All Karl Lagerfeld, the designer, asked me to do," Oribe told the newspaper, "was make the girls feel wonderful梐nd they did."

Who would have guessed that the next hair legend would be the one-time bad boy from Cuba with the movie star good looks and the tattooed sleeves? Today one can't know fashion without knowing Oribe. He has defined the notion of fashion over the course of a career of unprecedented longevity and scope. Oribe's combination of session, celebrity and salon work spans over three decades, and he is always in the right places with the right people at all of the right times.

Oribe working with Steven Meisel and Fran鏾is Nars.

His collaborators include countless photographers, like Bill King, who introduced him to the fashion editor Carlyne Cerf de Dudzeele, a co-conspirator during his Steven Meisel years, who went from French Elle to American Vogue taking Oribe with her. There was the meticulous Irving Penn, who Oribe still refers to as Mr. Penn; Richard Avedon, who Oribe collaborated with as early as Avedon's time at Self magazine; Helmut Newton, who shot Cindy Crawford for American Vogue with hair that Oribe teased to infinity; and others like Patrick Demarchelier, Annie Leibovitz, Herb Ritts, Francesco Scavullo and Horst.

Oribe has worked with creative directors like Fabien Baron and Keesha Keeble (who introduced Oribe to Meisel); make-up artists like Fran鏾is Nars, Pat McGrath, Kevyn Aucoin and Stephane Marais; and fashion designers like Gianni Versace, a mentor who inspired Oribe抯 tattoos, and Karl Lagerfeld, who took the rock and roll hairstylist under his wing. All told, Oribe has contributed to just about every major magazine and worked on just about every major fashion show (he was one of the first American hairstylists invited to style the European collections). And then there are the models, the celebrities and the icons he transformed who won抰 be mentioned here, save for Diana Ross who showed Oribe how to really secure a wig.

Christy Turlington for Comme des Gar鏾ns. Photographed by Steven Meisel. Hair by Oribe.

It began for Oribe in the late-80's, when fashion became fashion and its producers sought out its uncharted extremes at high speed. It was the start of an era-defining five-year collaboration with the photographer Steven Meisel. Theirs was a magical combination that demanded notice almost immediately, beginning with an image of Christy Turlington, then still a teenager with a career just as young, as a wide-eyed fawn for a Comme des Gar鏾ns ad campaign and catalogue.

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. Oribe and Meisel, along with the make-up artist Fran鏾is Nars, were inventing the supermodel, that ambassador for the glamorous spoils of the booming fashion industry. The rise of Meisel抯 team and the one-named wonders like Christy, Linda and Naomi was well documented. When Turlington and Naomi Campbell soaked in a Los Angeles hot tub smoking cigarettes for Meisel and Vogue Italia, Oribe had plopped the 60抯 bobs onto their supermodel heads. It was Oribe who laughed alongside Turlington on a gondola in Venice in American Vogue. And it was Oribe's tattooed forearm pulling on Turlington抯 long blond hairpieces in Allure.

The June 1990 cover of Vogue Italia, so pointedly expressed Oribe's vision of robust 60抯 glamour that it was as if a black, stretch gauntlet had been thrown down. Meisel shot Linda Evangelista evoking Sophia Loren; her head was tilted back under ravished curls by Oribe that set off miles of neck, acres of bare shoulders, parted lips and the heavy brows of an icon. It was inevitable that years later Oribe would style Loren herself, at the Hotel Ritz in Paris where she posed for the photographer Michel Comte with her head tilted back, in only a bathrobe worn off the shoulders and jewels. Loren offered Oribe the option of removing her hairpiece; instead Oribe added more hair, which he worked into a magnificently voluptuous halo. For Oribe, there could only be more Sophia Loren, never less.

Vogue Italia June 1990
"La Pi Sexy"

It can be said that 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 his decades of service to beauty, because one never knows when the lavender wig with the leopard stripes becomes useful. (There was a time when he carried Evangelista抯 clown red hairpieces in a McDonald抯 bag, which he knew drove the model crazy).

For Oribe, there can never be enough volume, in every sense of the word, which is why his work with Gianni Versace during the early-90抯 was so extraordinary. They shared an affinity for Miami decadence, both personal and professional.

Kristen McMenamy and Nadja Auermann for Versace. Photographed by Richard Avedon. Hair by Oribe.

Oribe created powerful imagery with Versace, like the advertising portfolios by the photographer Richard Avedon of the models Kristen McMenamy and Nadja Auermann frozen in mid-tussle, or the model Stephanie Seymour, posing with Marcus Schenkenberg, with Oribe-spun Medusa curls that Oribe lifted into the air with cross-currents of wind. The Versace extravagance culminated at a dinner in New York City staged by Versace and populated by models wearing Versace and enormous, sometimes towering Oribe creations piled with balls of hair wrapped in nets, with top knots and more top knots punctuated by colorful streaks, all decorated with ornaments coordinated to the table settings.

In hindsight, the evening could have been a celebration of an age about to pass梟ot unlike the designer Christian Lacroix抯 gala at the World Financial Center days after the stock market crash of 1987. Fashion was exhausted and the popular aesthetic was on the brink of a radical shift from the overblown to the understated. Oribe loved constructing these skyscrapers of hair, but he was also the one backstage at the historic, tide-turning 1993 Marc Jacobs for Perry Ellis grunge show, masterminding the new sloppy, lank hair. It was heartbreaking work for a maximalist, but it had an impact that was no less seismic.

Salon life has always been an integral part of Oribe's career. Oribe learned from his hairstyling mentor Garren how owning a salon can be grounding, and so he established his first, Oribe at Parachute, in 1987. It was a minimalist affair with stripped-down stations consisting of a mirror, a chair and one of Oribe抯 signature black equipment boxes. It was during this time that Oribe became well known for an eponymous talent agency梩he Oribe Agency梩hat represented future beauty industry heavyweights like Laura Mercier, Fran鏾is Nars, Kevin Mancuso, Danilo and Jimmy Paul.

Oribe at Parachute, Oribe's first salon in New York in 1987.

In 1991, Oribe made news when he opened his palatial Fifth Avenue salon at Elizabeth Arden in New York City (he was introduced to the cosmetics company by the model Vendela who was its new face). The three million dollar, 6,000-square foot Venetian palazzo was the perfect expression of Oribe抯 larger than life approach to hair. For example, to reach his chamber, with its mirrors and frescoes, terraces and skyline views, one walked down a theatrical corridor and through heavy red drapes that pooled on the poured terrazzo floor which was lit by candelabra held up by statuary. As a communications director for Elizabeth Arden once said, 揂t the end of it all was this attractive biker-looking person in black leather and jewelry with studs. A study in contrasts, it was exactly what Oribe wanted. Another salon, this time at Coral House in Miami Beach, had an underwater theme梠versized paintings of supermodel mermaids, a fish tank for a reception desk and a blue glow at night.

Oribe's current salon, off of Lincoln Road in Miami Beach, is relatively low-key with a slick floor of glittering poured plastic, dark wood and Porsche-designed chairs. At any of the locations, one could expect a sensational collision of personalities, whether it was Susanne Bartsch, Dennis Rodman, a society lady, or a young Jessica Simpson. One would also encounter the hair stars of tomorrow working there, like Sally Hershberger and Serge Normant.

While Oribe adapted to the culture and the shifting currents of his life, the projects never stopped. In 1992, he received the honor of being asked by the Metropolitan Museum of Art to design hair from raffia for the reopening of the Costume Institute galleries, a sculptural mission well-suited to his artistic hand. The results, which Oribe spent months completing, decorated Ralph Pucci mannequins created specially for the occasion with Christy Turlington抯 likeness. It was a refined expression of the masterful underpinnings of his fashion work.

Cindy Crawford on the premier cover of George Magazine. Hair by Oribe.

In 1994, in celebration of his new salon, Oribe 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.

In 1995, when John F. Kennedy Jr. cast Cindy Crawford as a midriff-baring George Washington for the inaugural cover of his celebrity-stoked political magazine George, Oribe styled the Revolutionary lace-front silver wig.

In 1997, Jennifer Lopez called for Oribe. They had never met, but she had imagined him doing her hair ever since she was a girl on the subway reading his name in fashion magazines. Oribe was ready for a challenge outside of the fashion world and so he accompanied her to Miami to shoot the cover of her first album, On the 6. He lightened her hair and pulled it tightly over a wig into a long ponytail. It was a done deal桽ean Combs, her boyfriend at the time, told Lopez not to let Oribe get away and she didn抰. Oribe worked with her during her rise (when he created the J.Lo persona with her) and at the heights of her millennial celebrity. Lopez was excited by fashion and dared Oribe to translate his editorial sensibility for her, creating a new vocabulary for the masses (the last pop star with comparable influence willing to represent the extremes of high fashion was Madonna). For example, Oribe had full license to create the outrageous permed wigs Lopez wore for her 揚lay video and NBC concert special. And while most of Hollywood was feeling glamorous in wedding hair at the Academy Awards in 2002, Lopez arrived with classic Oribe 搊ver-the-top sexy 60抯 fashion scary hair, as he describes it. Many critics panned the hyperbolic bouffant, but Lopez had the good taste to absolutely love it. Lopez was everywhere and so was Oribe.

Oribe on set with Jennifer Lopez.

Oribe is always where the news is occurring. While working on the winter 2003 Louis Vuitton campaign, Oribe met the photographers Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott. They were leaders of a new generation of hyper-fashion image makers who recognized Oribe as the perfect creative accomplice. Together Mert and Marcus and Oribe captured Kate Moss as Marilyn Monroe for W.

Then, after a Giorgio Armani campaign shoot with the model Agyness Deyn, they shot the rave-inspired cover story for Katie Grand抯 style magazine Pop with Oribe giving Deyn抯 signature pixie cut a sparkling metallic makeover brushed into shapes usually reserved for video game characters. He enjoyed the London creative boom with British Vogue covers shot with Craig McDean and pages and pages of Beth Ditto from the band The Gossip梐n icon in the making梚nterpreted by Steven Klein for Pop. Oribe continues to set new standards in his craft, most recently with one of the most iconic ad campaigns of 2008. The Richard Prince inspired Vuitton ads, feature glamorous beauties, luscious hair, American muscle cars and black lacquer backgrounds an Oribe signature scene if there ever was one.

Louis Vuitton Spring/Summer Campaign 2008

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. At the end of 2007, Oribe called up an old friend of 20 years, Sonia Kashuk, founder of a leading cosmetics brand, to seek some guidance in creating the line that he always imagined and envisioned - old world hairstyling supported by new world technology and the finest ingredients. The end result will define luxury hair care A line of edited products focused on the needs of most discerning people; Oribe, his clients, peers and everyone likeminded who believes that elegant beauty, high performance, hand craftsmanship and luxury share the same side of the spectrum.

In classic Oribe tradition, his products and his genius first came to be tested and seen on the pages of magazines. 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 the W抯 June issue; Impermeable held his created looks against the humidity for the Beach Spread in the Summer 2008 V; and Superfine was the hair spray and hair perfume on set of the last Tom Ford ad campaign.

There is no one who can claim Oribe's influence on beauty, and his ride is nowhere near done. Oribe is one of the select few whose sensibility encompasses the timeless and the ever-changing, from the voluminous glamour he lent to the pre-supermodels like Beverly Johnson, Carol Alt and Kim Alexis who he photographed with Ruven Afanador for The New York Times Magazine, to his vision for a Dolce & Gabbana accessories campaign by Steven Klein with the model Missy Rayder posed nude except for heels, a belt and humongous Mars Attacks hair, to the realization of his dream product line that was created with an assembled team of the top industry veterans and craftsmen from around the world. Oribe loves what he does and continues to do it, constantly and passionately, continuing to invent and re-invent, building his body of work and his influence on hair and fashion that defines the generations.