George Papanikolas is really something else. Recently named "Matrix Celebrity Stylist," the Beverly Hills based colorist/stylist is best known for his color designs on so many celebrities, including all the Kardashian sisters. The most recent Kim dark to light shading created quite a stir on the bold color lift and seamless placement that looked both modern and tasteful.
MODERN invited him to demonstrate that highlighting technique that can be considered ombre (ok it IS ombre) that is a two step combination of balayage and unique color placement involving backcombing, patience and skill. I spent the day with George at the Water Street Studio in NYC and was not only impressed with his obvious talent, but with his smart, humble and competent style.
George grew up in the LA area and went to the University of Southern California (USC). Upon graduation, he went into the business world for five years before realizing his heart lay in hairdressing. It turns out this was a good move. After beauty school and an apprenticeship with Chris McMillan, George eventually found his way to the Andy LeCompte Salon (where he has worked on up to 50 clients a day), and the Rita Hazan Salon in NYC. His clients have included (and include) Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus, Miranda Kerr, Megan Fox, Nicole Richie, Minka Kelly, Hayden Panettiere, His work has appeared on multiple covers, including Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Lucky and InStyle and he has worked on the ad campaigns for Guess and Lee. Needless to say...he is a busy guy.
So, how does he find time to ALSO go to the Belle Femme Salon in Dubai where he spends several days working with a full schedule of highlight/balayage clients? How does he make it work while spending so much time traveling back and forth from LA to NYC? Why does he make Instagram an important part of his professional life? Needless to say, George does not have pets, his housekeeper takes care of his plants and in whatever spare time he has, he does his hobby: buying, fixing up and then flipping houses.
George and I had multiple conversations throughout our nine hour day. He was warm and engaging to everyone at the studio including photographer Roberto Ligresti, fashion stylist Rod Novoa, nail artist Julie Kandalec and make up artist Claudio O. He generously shared professional advice to MODERN's intern (and recent beauty school grad) Amanda Smith: "Make sure to start with a salon that offers great education. Every new stylist should work in a salon that has regularly scheduled classes and workshops." I also asked him what Kim Kardashian was REALLY like. "She is so lovely and down to Earth. I love working with her." (Oh well...I tried to get a scoop!) Most impressive was his willingness to share his knowledge, formulas and techniques. While his styling is accomplished and consumer friendly, it's his color technique that really shines a light on him as unique and a true pro. (Make sure to see how he does it in our April issue.)
As far as Instagram is concerned, George believes that it is an important tool for any salon professional. He even helped me post the Instagram pictured here, including caption and hashtags. It had 200 "likes" in just a couple hours. (tips: don't overdo it and make sure to use several and appropriate hashtags.) George points out that you, the salon professional, can and should use Instagram (and other social media) to become the superstar of your town.
Check out these two videos to learn more about George's Dubai experience and how he credits Instagram for much of his success.
That being said, make sure to follow George @GeorgePapanikolas and while you're at it, follow MODERN: @ModernSalonMagazine and please follow me: @MulhernMaggie. I just started mine during last New York Fashion Week. I'm still learning, but with George's advice I think I have a better "handle" on posting. If you take his advice, perhaps MODERN will be interviewing you soon about your own Dubai connection!