About Face: Oribe Canales, Driving To The Max

About Face: Oribe Canales, Driving To The Max

V chat with Oribe on Meisel, salons, celebrities, and the cult classic Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray to celebrate 10 years of his hair care line.

V chat with Oribe on Meisel, salons, celebrities, and the cult classic Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray to celebrate 10 years of his hair care line.

Text: Stella Pak

New York is a transient city where people come to live their dreams and try on a few fantasies. When they don’t work out, the energy of the city teaches you to be resourceful and discover your own talents you didn’t expect in the beginning. Oribe Canales came to New York at 21 looking to be an actor. For Oribe, hairdressing was an easy career he could latch onto if it only takes 6 months to become a professional. Fast forward through his legendary body of work of maximalist glam, we find ourselves celebrating 10 years of his luxury hair care line, Oribe. V chat with Oribe and talked Meisel, salons, celebrities, gossip and the what’s become a cult classic, Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray to celebrate 10 years of his hair care line.

What have been some of the most defining moments of your career?

It’s certainly the people. I started my career with legendary Steven Meisel. We were both young, ambitious. We worked together for a very long time with Carlyne Cerf (de Dudzeele) doing amazing iconic work that’s timeless and still holds up. I was always really an ambitious kind of guy. After working with Steven all day, I always tried to get a deal to open my first salon. I thought it was important to have salons so I can take real people and incorporate it with my work. It gave me a different take than just doing vanity hair for magazines. I’ve had salons for many years and I enjoyed that part. Supermodels have to be in there. That was a historic moment. Working with Linda, Christy, Naomi, Stephanie and Claudia… then, Jennifer Lopez came into my life after grunge. Grunge came when I did my first show with Marc (Jacobs). I really didn’t take to grunge that much.

That was during his Perry Ellis show?

Yes. Perry Ellis was when you first saw a wreck of a girl. Compared to the glamour girl I was used to doing for Versace and used to doing for Calvin and the other designers. It was always a beautiful girl. This girl was beautiful but in a different way. It wasn’t particularly my style.

But then, a couple years later, came Jennifer Lopez. Jennifer was launching her singing career and Puffy and that whole thing. And for ten years, I was part of the creation of JLo. That was really major and important. I’ll never forget it. It was a major influence to do my next thing, which was Oribe hair care. I had the opportunity to develop my line. Very few people have that opportunity to create their product. Oribe hair care was the cherry on top. I don’t want to say my career is over. But it was certainly one of the greatest highlights.

You mentioned JLO who helped catapult your career. What made you want to work with JLO at the time when she was up and coming, debuting her singing career?

I had just seen Out of Sight. I just thought her and George Clooney had the most incredible chemistry. I was dazzled by her. I thought she was so gorgeous and so strong. I thought, ”Oh my God. I would die to work with her.” And sure enough, it’s just how life is. I get a call saying Jennifer was doing her first album cover in Miami and if I interested in doing it. She’s a fashion kind of girl and she’s read my name in magazines. I went to Miami and we just hit it off. Puffy’s the one who told her, “Don’t lose that guy.” For the next 8-10 years, we did everything together. Watching her growth and the super star that she is, just amazing. It was a great experience.

What is the distinct creative difference between editorial and celebrity hair?

To tell you the truth, when working with a celebrity for magazines for instance, if you can just break them down to the person… some are harder than others. I’ve worked for V so many times. For instance, Nicki Minaj was someone who was harder to break through than say, other celebrities I’ve done.

Is it the personalities? Where you want to understand them at their core to interpret that through hair?

Exactly. Getting them to trust you. Getting them to know that you just want to make them look beautiful. That’s really the only difference. For instance, say for the salon, doing a Kim Kardashian or a schoolteacher, I feel like it’s the same thing. I’m just trying my best to make a person look beautiful and glamorous. Always sexy.

You are considered a maximalist with your hairstyles that brought you to the top working with an iconic team of image-makers. What are your thoughts on the simplified natural looks we see nowadays on the runway?

At the time during the 90’s, Gianni Versace would say, “I don’t care about the clothes. Just make the women look beautiful.” And they made hairdressers and makeup artist feel incredible. Nowadays, I feel like designers don’t want to be upstaged by the girl. Bland a bit. Simple. Young. Skinny. Just show the clothes. It’s a different time. It’s beautiful too. It’s boring to see 60 girls who look kind of the same. But with Versace, you would treat each girl individually. Made it more beautiful and more glamorous.

I see that a lot. When I go backstage to some shows, you see cookie cutter girls where they kind of look the same.

There are a few hairdressers that still do the big shows. Guido and Pat do a lot of shows. But nowadays companies sponsor the shows. As a matter of fact, companies have to pay the designers for the show, which I find strange. It’s a different thing. And the designer doesn’t want the hair to upstage the show. It’s kind of boring

I read in an article that you launched your first product line back in 1999. What encouraged you to go for it the second time around?

The first time was really fun and amazing. People still ask me about it. It was a really cool line. At the time I wasn’t ready and didn’t have the time to really build a brand. Timing is everything. I needed a team. I got to do it again with the right people at the right time. I never lost the ambition to have a product line. I just knew it had to be the right thing. I got super lucky. I’m very fortunate and I’m very thankful for all the great opportunities. Certainly the opportunity to work with Sonia Kashuk and Daniel Kaner on Oribe Hair care was the opportunity of my life.

What has your journey been like over the past ten years of launching Oribe?

It’s a lot of work to begin a brand. The beginning was so exciting to imagine products. To have it come to life. Imagine someone change your logo and package it the way you need it to be. To be luxury and over the top. Daniel encouraged me to put my essence to the brand. I gave it everything. Everything about the products was original. There were no products that looked like that. Everything was mass and smelled like strawberries. It was garbage. So when we launched the brand in luxury, and performance, we wanted the best of the best. The storyboard was amazing. I remember the first time we put it together, there was a photograph that Mert and Marcus had shot. She was dressed like Dietrich and it was the idea of that glamour. I remember there was a Bugatti car. I remember it was so beautiful and outrageous and expensive. There was a really tiny red diamond because Lorraine Schwartz told me red diamonds are the most rarest and the most expensive. I wanted the brand to be like that. I was obsessed with Tom Ford and his whole glamour trip. I love brands like Hermes, Chrome Hearts. We wanted a brand that was like that in the hair care category.

Why did you choose the Dry Texturizing Spray to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the brand?

Dry Texturizing Spray says everything about Oribe hair care. It stands for innovation, imagination and performance. It’s one of our greatest products. Anyone can use it. There are no rules. You can use it as a texturizer, you can use it to reshape your head and it’s funny. Every once in a while, I’ll be watching a movie and you’ll see it on the set. It’s nice. It’s a great feeling. It’s a great way to celebrate our tenth year. It feels like 20 years and it’s really great to celebrate it. Building a brand takes longer to build success the way we achieved. We’re just a baby brand. There’s so much more Oribe hair care is going to do. We’re opening in other markets and coming to other countries. It’s an exciting time for us.

Can I get an appointment with you?

Anytime. Call my girls.

Credits: COVER IMAGE SELECTED FROM THE ARCHIVE OF V

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