They start trends. They influence Hollywood style. They change the way clients visit salons. They’re 50 hairdressers who have influenced and continue to influence the way you do hair. Whether they’re developing fresh cutting techniques, promoting education or trying new ways of coloring hair, these 50 stylists have shaped contemporary beauty.
How did we pick these 50 stylists? It wasn’t easy. With multiple editors and outside sources weighing in, we could have easily developed a list of 150. But the 50 we chose are professionals who have had a true impact on the way hair is cut, colored and styled today. Although many of our 50 stylists could be labeled with multiple titles, we categorized them into the following areas: Innovators and Pioneers, Celebrity Stylists, Educators, Trendsetters and International Influencers.
For those of you counting as you read, you’ll notice only 49 profiles in the article. Number 50 is, of course, the man on our December 2008 cover, Vidal Sassoon.
Watch our exclusive video interview, Vidal in His Own Words.
Read Alicia Liotta's article, Vidal Sassoon: Living Legend.
Read on for an inspirational look at the careers and achievements of these amazing talents. Want to weigh in with your own choices for our list of 50 Influential Hairdressers? Visit Editor-in-Chief Laurel Smoke’s blog titled “Voice Your Choice” and tell us what you think.
Nicky Clarke Nicky Clarke
His Work: Trained by UK legend Leonard Lewis, also known as Leonard of Mayfair, he launched his reputation at John Frieda, where his first super-star client was singer LuLu. Cindy Crawford, the Duchess of York and David Bowie followed. When Nicky opened his own salon, Gianni Versace was an early visitor. Then came Mischa Barton, Sienna Miller, Gillian Anderson, Helen Mirren and Jessica Biel. Parleying dozens of awards with multi-salon ownership and celebrity clout, he had the smarts to call his product line Red Carpet, as he sponsored the Red Carpet designer award at the British Hair Fashion Awards.
Why He’s Influential: When you converge cultures by cutting everyone from British royalty to the royalty of rock; snowball fame with TV appearances on Comic Relief and Ab Fab; and do good work, you touch the world.
Who Influences Him: “Leonard was an extraordinary and charismatic icon who styled the likes of Elizabeth Taylor and Liza Minelli in his exclusive Mayfair salon. I was very fortunate to land a position there, when London’s top salons divided between minimalist, Sassoon-inspired ‘cutters’ and Leonard’s glamor. Leonard’s influence has certainly never dated, and I remain eternally grateful to have been associated with him.”
click image to zoomJosé Eber José Eber
His Work: From the age of 15, he knew instinctively what women wanted most: sexy style, glamor and self-confidence. With his flamboyant good looks, the style icon, with a sense of sauvage, quickly became as recognizable as his clients—and then some. Styling Elizabeth Taylor, Cher and Jaclyn Smith allowed him to create the empire he oversees today: a namesake flagship and nine other ateliers. Each continues his philosophy of enhancing self-esteem.
Why He’s Influential: His first book, Shake Your Head Darling captured the salon zeitgeist of the time; his second, Beyond Hair: The Ultimate Makeover Book underscored his ideas about total image. A Why Do I Call You Sexy? video said it all. Four decades after he reached U.S. shores from France, he’s still in demand on shows like Oprah and NBC’s Today Show.
Who Influences Him: “My main influence is not a single person, rather an era. I admired the beauty and glamor of classic Hollywood during the 1940s and ‘50s. The artists who created the fabulous, legendary looks of Marilyn Monroe, Eva Gardner, Elizabeth Taylor and Bette Davis were the inspiration for my own styles and images.”
Frédéric Fekkai Frédéric Fekkai
His Work: Celebrity stylist, salon owner, product manufacturer and spokesperson, Fekkai is known for his genius in most salon categories. Today he operates seven Fekkai Salons in the U.S. and has an internationally recognized product line that includes nearly 150 products.
Why He’s Influential: While best known for his products and salons, Fekkai believes his success comes from his ability to “create a customized and sophisticated look for each client.” He educates his stylists “to focus on the complete picture, not just the facial features and shape of the face. When determining the best look for a client, a stylist must take into account individual personality, personal style and lifestyle. Each quality should be synergistic to create a unique portrait of personal greatness. That’s total beauty.”
Who Influences Him: “I am inspired by my son, works of art, fashion, people I admire, beautiful ad campaigns and places I visit around the world. I love watching classic movies and looking at portrait books.”
His Work: A quintessential salon professional and fashion leader for more than two decades, Garren has more than 1,000 magazine covers to his credit. His magnificent and pristine Manhattan salon is known for creatingtasteful, sensible, sophisticated and high-fashion looks for his high-profile clientele.
Why He’s Influential: Garren’s work is featured regularly in leading fashion publications including U.S. and Italian Vogue and in a bi-monthly “Ask the Expert” column for Allure. Throughout his career, he has collaborated with the industry’s leading photographers, including Steven Meisel, Steven Klein, Annie Leibovitz and the late Richard Avedon to create memorable images for both editorial and advertising.
He has been employed by world-leading cosmetic companies such as Lancôme and L’Oréal, as well as top fashion designers including Dolce & Gabanna, Escada, Bill Blass, Calvin Klein, Prada, Versace, Valentino, Marc Jacobs and Anna Sui, for whom he creates fashion-forward, cohesive looks for their advertising campaigns and runway presentations. His celebrity client list includes Victoria Beckham, Scarlett Johansson, Nicole Kidman, Eva Longoria, Sarah Jessica Parker, Drew Barrymore, Madonna and Oprah Winfrey. Garren also continues to create trendsetting looks for today’s hottest fashion models and, 10 weekdays a month, he dedicates time in his New York salon to enhancing the beauty of everyday women, giving each private client a style that meets her personal needs.
Who Influences Him: “I have been influenced by so many great artists, including Kenneth, Alexandre de Paris and Vidal Sassoon. I have also been influenced by designers from the ’70s including Yves St. Laurent, Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel and Calvin Klein.”
Ted Gibson Ted Gibson
His Work: Product developer, salon owner and celebrity stylist, Ted Gibson made headlines when he upped the price tag on hair cuts in New York. Known for “the most expensive hair cut in the world,” Gibson charges $950 in his Union Square Salon. His freshly launched Ted Gibson line of products and tools are already a hit among editors, celebrities and socialites.
Why He’s Influential: “I get to work with some of the most beautiful women in the world, including Anne Hathaway, Gabrielle Union, Angelina Jolie, Debra Messing, Joy Bryant and Demi Moore.” His work has appeared on hundreds of covers internationally, ad campaigns and on the runways of some of the most important designers.
Who Influences Him: “That’s easy,” says Gibson. “My mom and dad, Man Ray, Horst Rechelbacher, Jason Backe and God.”
Orlando Pita Orlando Pita
His Work: One of the most sought-after editorial hairstylists, Pita’s designs have graced the covers of countless magazines worldwide and his work has been seen in hundreds of ad campaigns and television commercials. He is also one of the top artists during fashion weeks worldwide. His Orlo Salon in New York City is a haven for models, celebrities, socialites and royalty.
Why He’s Influential: “In my 25-year career, I’ve been so honored in having the ability to work collaboratively with so many talented people. For me, I am constantly trying to challenge myself in all aspects of my work—whether it’s editorial fashion and beauty features, campaigns, runways around the world or in the salon with my clients. Last year, W magazine was kind enough to name me as one of fashion’s most influential people—that is when I knew I made the right choice in becoming a hairdresser.”
Who Influences Him: “My parents. My mother was a seamstress and my father was always fixing things around the house—I watched both parents constantly work with their hands. It was only appropriate that my profession allowed me to work with my hands, too.”
John Sahtag John Sahag (deceased)
His Work: Born in Beirut, Lebanon, Sahag moved to Australia at age eight. By 18, he was already a hair styling star in Sydney and moved to Paris to be closer to the fashion houses. Eventually moving to New York in 1985, he opened the John Sahag Workshop on Madison Avenue to accommodate his impressive client roster of celebrities, models, editors and other influential icons in the beauty and fashion industry. The workshop was also established to train other hairdressers in his signature dry-cutting method. World renowned for his extraordinary vision, intensity, integrity and his unusual, abstract editorial work, the designs of this “rock and roll” artist appeared in the photographs of Helmut Newton, Irving Penn, Hiro and Albert Watson and on the covers and in fashion and beauty magazines all over the world.
Why He’s Influential: “John Sahag approached hair with reverence, believing it to be spiritual material,” says Thomas Clancy, director of education, John Sahag Products and Craftsman at John Sahag Workshop. “He provided a refinement to our industry and thought it important to make it a lifelong quest to become a more cultured human being.” In addition to his recognition by his peers, Sahag was presented with Cosmetic Executive Women Beauty Editors Choice Award in 1999, recognizing “a stellar individual who distinguishes himself by making exceptionally innovative contributions to the industry.”
Who He Has Influenced: “All hairdressers worth their salt have been influenced by John Sahag,” says Clancy. “Artists of all mediums are influenced by the way John saw shapes and made them come out in his medium, which was hair. He was known as a genius who followed his soul to find shapes not seen by others. All who crossed paths with John Sahag, if they weren’t a craftsman or artist, were influenced by his kindness and spirituality.”