Backstage

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Eric Gabriel

Eric Gabriel has worked with some of the world’s most well known photographers, including Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, Patrick Demarchelier, Annie Leibovitz and Bruce Weber. His work regularly appears on the covers and pages of Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, i-D and Italian Vogue, and his clients include Heidi Klum, Madonna, Anthony Keidis, Duran Duran, Johnny Depp and Natalie Portman. We spoke to Gabriel about his experiences working with models, musicians and A-list actors.


How did you end up working with celebrities?


I started my career working with models – actually when I first worked with Heidi, it was when she was working as a model – so I never consciously thought about working with celebrities. That was just a natural progression as, over the last few years, the fashion industry has shifted so much from models to celebrities.

How is working with a celebrity different from working with model?


Celebrities have become much more fashion-forward in recent years. I’ve found that most celebrities really respect our industry and appreciate what we do. One drawback when working with celebrities is that they usually come with a highly opinionated PR team.

Models are more like a blank canvas. They have a perfect bone structure. Celebrities don’t necessarily have “perfect everything.” It’s a different kind of beauty with a celebrity, and a different kind of challenge.



You work with a lot of high-profile people – how are you helping to set hair trends?


I usually look at how the person in question typically looks and try to do something new because, in fashion, you always want something new.

How do you handle “reviews” of your red carpet styles (good and bad)?


The comments come from everyone, even your parents! The great thing about fashion is that it’s generally accepted that not everyone can like everything and not every look has to be pretty or perfect. I know what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. I don’t think you should play it safe all the time, and that’s one of the things I love about working with Heidi.

What do you do when your clients’ hair just isn’t working the way you want it to?


Bad hair days happen. One thing to remember is that there are always alternative styles and sometimes you have to change the intended look a bit. When something is clearly not going to work, you have to explain that to whomever you’re working with and sell it to them in an honest and truthful way.

Who cuts your hair?


Me! I grew up in a family of hairdressers and didn’t like how any of them cut my hair, so I learned how to cut it myself when I was 13.

What is your daily hair routine?


I wash my hair once or twice a week. It’s great to have natural oils in your hair and, even if you wash just once a week, your hair and scalp shouldn’t smell unless you’re going to the gym or sweating like crazy. I have short hair, so in terms of product I don’t use much aside from Oribe Rough Luxury Molding Wax, which is actually my favorite hair product.

Is there one product that you consider to be “Heidi in a Bottle”?


Whether I’m blowing her hair straight or building texture, I always use Oribe Volumista on Heidi’s hair.

You’ve styled a lot of musicians. Who were some of your favorites to work with?


Marilyn Manson, Trent Reznor and Madonna [see Eric's work in Madonna's "What It Feels Like (For a Girl)" video below]. They were all so fun, creative and inspiring. It wasn't just about doing their hair; it was about creating images.



Do you have more freedom to go a little wild or edgy with your music clients as opposed to actors/models?


It depends on the musicians, the kind of image they want, the kind of people they are and the magazine I’m working with.

Who in the music industry could most benefit from a "hair makeover"?


Everyone! Just kidding. Christina Aguilera comes to mind first. She always kind of makes me cringe.

Which musicians’ styles do you admire?


I loved what Amy Winehouse did with her hair. I also think Gwen Stefani has great hair.
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