Expert Advice

5 Questions With Michael Shaun Corby, Stylist for Project Runway

Lauren Salapatek | November 7, 2013 | 2:48 PM

This season, high fashion meets high-end hair care as Alterna Haircare joins the team at Project Runway All Stars for the first time. Led by Global Creative Director Michael Shaun Corby, Corby works backstage with the show’s designers to execute weekly hair styles. MODERN got an exclusive interview with Corby and asked him about his experiences on the show.

Tune into Project Runway every Thursday at 9 p.m. EST to see the exciting styles come to life.

5 Questions With Michael Shaun Corby, Stylist for Project Runway

Tell us about Alterna and Project Runway's partnership? How did it start? What does this mean for Alterna?

Alterna Haircare has been making waves all over the world for several years now. However, this year we made a lot of buzz with the announcement of Katie Holmes as our co-owner. When the opportunity came from Project Runway All Stars, it was a natural fit because our co-owner was already a friend of the show. Katie Holmes was a guest judge on last season's finale. It was also an opportunity to really highlight the artistry of professional hair stylists.  We couldn't pass down the exciting opportunity to be a part of this great show on primetime television! Alterna has been a part of fashion for a very long time, but now we get to show the world what we do backstage.

Walk us through a typical day on Project Runway. From concept to creation of a designer's look, what was the "hair process" like?

The most surprising thing I can tell you is that it's actually all real. Before I worked on the show, I thought perhaps there were some smoke and mirrors involved and that show would allow a long window of time to create such demanding hair styles. The truth is you only have 30 minutes, and if the make-up takes 40 minutes then you only have 20 minutes for hair. I was allowed to take a quick peek at the dresses which helped me envision the hair style I wanted to create. Also, the interviews with the designers were very helpful, even if we had to start from scratch when their minds would sometimes change half way through the completion of the styles. I am thankful I had such a great team that could work with me to make it work even when time wasn't on our side!

How long did you have to consult with each of the designers?

I had less than one minute to consult with each designer. Designers are really sequestered and getting any time with them or even getting near them is impossible until the cameras are rolling.  I tried to be fair and give each designer the same amount of time but sometimes the clock was running out and we just had to jump in and make it happen.

What was the most challenging part about being on the show?

For me, the most challenging part of the show was the moment a designer changed their mind on what they wanted and we had as little as five minutes to alter the look.  I have to admit that on more than one occasion, I made the executive decision to leave the style as previously discussed and pray that Isaac liked it and they didn't get voted off.

Did you ever have any "uh oh" moments? How did you fix them?

Many! Some of them would give away the show if I told you but here is one that I can speak of. I was working with one of the celebrities and got a call that I was needed on stage to check on one of the models. Suddenly while I was backstage, they called "Rolling-quiet on the set!” but my celebrity was only half way done and I was stuck on a completely different set unable to get out and get back to her! I waited patiently and used my iPhone to avoid a total mishap but my nerves were shot and I was sweating bullets for at least 20 minutes afterwards.

What was the most rewarding part about being on the show?

The most rewarding thing about being on the show is to be able to create the perfect style to compliment the incredible looks on the show. Seeing it all come together on camera and knowing that we did it and we made it happen and we rocked it for 19 million viewers to see is incredibly exciting!

Do you have a favorite hair style design that comes to mind when you think back?

My favorites were braids and high ponytails. We really did something original with both of these looks. Most people think that there is not much you can do with a ponytail and braids but wait until you see what team Alterna did.

What advice do you have for other stylists if they ever have to consult with a professional designer?

I learned after the very first show that, while they are very talented, designers of clothing are not designers for hair. It is up to the stylists to guide them and advise them on what hair style will best suit the look.  I really stood my ground on several occasions to fight for what I knew would look best. After, I would hear the judges compliment the hair and I would get a little tingle of pride knowing that we made that happen and we fought for what we do best...amazing hair transformations!

5 Questions With Michael Shaun Corby, Stylist for Project Runway


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