Luis Alvarez loves cities. In his 30 years in the industry, as an editorial stylist, as a photographer and now as co-founder and creative force behind Aquage, he worked in every fashion center in the world, trips he describes as “creative pilgrimages.” His object is to fuel his art.“A prerequisite for every artist is a perpetual influx of creative inspiration, and there is no better place to become inspired than a city,” he says.To feed his creative flame, Alvarez finds that he returns time and time again to the fashion capitals of the West, Paris and New York.
The two cities offer him very different inspirations.“Paris is an opulent and embellished city; everywhere you turn, you find a masterpiece,” he says. “But the secret is to slow down and focus on the details.“In Paris, inspiration seems to manifest itself in elaborate, complex, intriguing ways, like a story that reveals its mystery only to those who have the patience to allow it its own time.“The energy in Paris is one of discovery.”
In contrast, he says, New York is built for speed.“When you’re there, you feel like an electromagnetic charge is running through your veins. The energy is one of power.“In New York, your inspiration focuses on form and function. It’s no longer about details; it’s about the gestalt. Your creative ideas flow in an elegant, streamlined, fluid manner.”The synergy between environment and creation, between individual and place is something Alvarez explores both to express himself and to communicate with other image-makers on the imaginative level.“I feel that I have arrived at a place in my career where one of my most important roles is to inspire other artists and help them discover their own path.”Here, Luis Alvarez’s creative vision, shot in Paris and New York exclusively for MODERN SALON.
To shape the hair for this portfolio, Alvarez uses a system he developed at Aquage called “pliant strength.”“Think of the hair fiber as a natural fabric with an inherent level of flexibility and the product that you use on it as either a fabric softener or a starch,” he says. “First determine the hair’s natural level of pliability and flexibility, then either increase or decrease it with the proper combination of product and technique. If you view the process in this manner, you will be able to achieve virtually and level of texture, hold and control.”To raise and lower the level of “pliant strength” in the hair, Alvarez relies on a trio of favorite products: Aquage Finishing Spray, Working Spray and Beyond Shine.“If I were stranded on a deserted Island and had to create a photo shoot, these would be the three essential products I would pray for,” he says.
“With them in my creative arsenal, I can create virtually any shape or form.”To get the most out of styling products, says Alvarez, apply the same intensive research and testing you would to a color formula.“Having a thorough understanding of a product’s capabilities is essential when taking creativity to its extreme,” he maintains.
“I always recommend that every professional thoroughly test a product’s capability until he or she becomes totally familiar with the performance attributes of that particular product.“When you can use a product with total confidence, knowing that you will be able to achieve consistent and predictable results under virtually any condition, then and only then will that product truly become a professional tool.”
Photography and hair by Luis Alvarez; make-up by Wanda Alvarez; production by Don Wismer; fashions by L’Impasse.