Oribe Canales died December 16, 2018 at the age of 62. Known simply as Oribe, Canales took the beauty and fashion industries by storm for decades—his name synonymous with glamorous, gorgeous hair.
Just six years after graduating Continental School of Beauty in Buffalo, New York, Canales, a native of Havana, scored his first magazine cover—GQ. Since then, his work has been featured on countless magazine covers and editorials as the era of supermodels emerged, he opened multiple salons, and his namesake product line, Oribe Hair Care, just celebrated its 10-year anniversary.
Thanks to the products’ performance, beautiful packaging and, what Oribe Hair Care President Daniel Kaner calls, “craftsman style” education, the brand was received with open arms by not just the salon industry, but also by beauty editors, session stylists and clients around the globe, who quickly became #oribeobsessed.
“Throughout my career, I’ve tried to be sponge-like,” Canales once told MODERN SALON in an exclusive interview. “I’ve always been willing to do everything and ready to work with other talented and inspiring people. It’s an amazing industry. I’ve loved every day of it.”
Remembering the Legend
The Oribe network of salon owners and stylists who knew and worked with Oribe were eager to share memories of meeting the man and how he influenced their careers and their lives:
“As a young stylist I idolized Oribe. I watched him through the pages of the fashion magazines where he invented the supermodel. In January of 2009, Obadiah Salon was fortunate enough to be among the first in the country to launch Oribe Hair Care. In those early launch days, Oribe himself would attend the launches. I remember being so excited to see him work in person. He was so gracious and giving with his time and talent. One of my funniest memories with him was in Vegas when he offered to pay for me to get a tattoo if I got the Oribe emblem. Of course, I did it! Being a champion of his brand for 10 years and having the opportunity to work next to him has inspired me to do better for the people I work with and my clientele every day. The respect and love he, his husband Zaki, his assistant Judy and his incredible team have shown me from the beginning has left me more inspired to carry on his legacy.” —Vu Montgomery, stylist at Obadiah Salon, Bellevue, WA
“I loved the way he walked around the room as we worked. He commented on how we were doing, and if he liked it, you knew it! If not, he made sure it was corrected. He was very clear with what he wanted and every single stylist in that room knew it. Besides giving me the gift of his teachings, I learned very quickly how talented he was. His hands worked fast and furious. It was like watching a gymnast perform at the Olympics. He made everything look effortless.” —Linda Refosco, co-owner of Lure Salon, Vancouver, BC
“We were shocked and saddened when we heard about Oribe’s passing. It is so hard to believe that such a bright light could be gone. So many words come to mind when we think about him: mentor, artist, inspirer, genius, glamorous, movie star, leader, gracious, talent, but mostly, Oribe was a friend. He made you feel like you were the most important person in the room. Here was this legend, one of the greatest hairdressers from the modern era, encouraging you and telling you what a ‘genius’ job you were doing, it was almost surreal. Oribe made everything fun and his energy was contagious.” —Jack and Joelle Ray, owners of Samuel Cole Salon, Raleigh, NC
“I was introduced to Oribe almost 25 years ago, and we connected immediately. He understood the importance of family, and while he encouraged me to be an editorial stylist, he understood the demands of being away from home and my children. I am forever grateful for his advice about family because I have a wonderful relationship with my daughters. Oribe and I became very close, and I would visit him in Miami when he opened his salon. I also worked with Oribe when he was the exclusive stylist for Jennifer Lopez. Oribe never forgot my passion for being in the editorial and fashion world, and so when he became the lead stylist for Giorgio Armani, he made me a part of his team. I’ll never forget the years we spent in Milan, Paris, and New York together. They were once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Oribe was iconic and forever changed the industry … and me. He was legendary, and he will continue to be my inspiration and the inspiration for many in the hair care industry.” —Gary Gemma, owner of Gary Patrick Salon, Pleasanton, CA
“I started hairdressing in 1979, and shortly after that, in the early ’80s, I became familiar with Oribe and his work. To me, he was larger-than-life, and I always looked up to him. Once in Milan, my daughter, Alex, who was 20 at the time, was assisting me backstage all day. After one show, Oribe sat down in his usual way—legs crossed, arms sprawled back and puffing cigarette smoke into the air—and asked Alex if she thought she could create the look that just went down the runway. ‘Can you do this, Al,’ he said. She said she could and she did—it looked great. He gave her a chair and allowed her to style a few models at the next day’s show. She was knocked over, and when she looks at her career that is a moment that will always stand out. Oribe lived more in a weekend than most do in an entire lifetime. He lived life with such passion and appeared to be fearless. He was always on the search for new ideas. Once at a show, he set the hair in pin curls, put Rock Hard Gel directly onto the pin curl and threw sparkles on it. It looked beautiful. Halfway through the show, he starting pulling pins out, and the sparkly hair would hang down looking incredible. After the show he said to me, ‘You’ll never see me do that again.’ He never did anything twice.” —Scott Miller, Scott Miller Salon and Spa, Rochester, NY