A Conversation With

Anthony Palermo

With an expert eye for selecting the perfect tint, shade and hue, celebrated colorist Anthony Palermo is one of the most influential and in-demand stylists working today. The co-owner and Color Director of Anthony Leonard Salon in New York City has a portfolio that boasts editorial work in every major magazine and a client list that includes famous names like Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista and Jennifer Lopez, to name a few. We talked to the longtime friend and collaborator of Oribe about some of his favorite early works, teaming up with Oribe on projects and talks us through experimenting with new shades for spring.

What sparked your interest in becoming a colorist? How did you get into the profession?
I always loved fashion, so I got a job dressing models at fashion week in Bryant Park in the early 90s. I became obsessed with models like Linda Evangelista and Kristen McMenamy; they would change their hair color every season. I would watch Oribe doing hair backstage and was inspired to work for him, so I went to beauty school.

Who was your first major client?
My first major client was supermodel Christy Turlington. The moment that defined my career was when I got a call from Madonna to do her color. It was definitely a dream come true.

You have been a longtime collaborator of Oribe's. Where did you two first meet?
I had a friend, David Gonzales, who worked for Oribe Salon on Fifth Avenue. He told me they needed assistants and he got me an interview. They hired me on the spot, and I loved it from the moment the elevator door opened. I knew that I was going to have a long-lasting relationship with Oribe and the people who worked for him.

What have been a few of your favorite editorials or jobs to work on?
I have so many, but a few that stand out would have to be Rihanna's red for the cover of Vogue, Linda Evangelista with rainbow-colored hair for V Magazine, Cher with terracotta-colored hair for Vanity Fair and Jennifer Lopez with dark hair for the cover of W Magazine.

What's the collaboration process like between you and Oribe?
We speak all the time when there is a project he is working on. He loves to give me references, but he also trusts my opinion and respects my ideas. I always get it when he explains his vision. After 20 years, I would definitely say we have a very unique language.

You recently worked on a shoot with Daria Werbowy for the March issue of British Vogue where she wears a few colorful wigs. Do you think that bright hues are going to be a big trend for spring?
I love hair color that makes a statement, whether it抯 about the color or the placement. The wilder the better, especially in editorials.

How can someone experiment with these bright colors in a non-editorial setting?
Start slow; wild hair color is a big commitment and very hard to correct if you don't like it. If you want pink hair, maybe start with a few highlights before you do the entire head. Also, fooling around with wigs and hairpieces is a good idea.

How does working on a look for an editorial differ from than working with a client in the salon?
They are two completely different animals. Editorials allow me to explore the creative fantasy-like side of my mind. My salon clients live real lives in NYC, and most of them are very professional, so they want a more natural look. I love showing them my editorials because they are always very impressed at what I am capable of doing and love the images in the magazines. I enjoy displaying my work around the salon.

Is there a specific color or look that you are asked to do a lot of by clients in the salon?
I am known in the business for doing amazing blondes; it has become my signature. There are so many different shades to play with. I think every woman should be blonde once in their life...or at least blondish.

Any kind of color you won't do for a client?
I am pretty open and I listen to what they are telling me, then I try to make suggestions to steer them in the right direction. I tell my clients that having a colorist is the best luxury you can have and to take advantage of my knowledge and good eye for color.

Are there any celebrity colors you love right now?
I love Miley Cyrus' hair color for the cover of German Vogue. Oribe and I collaborated on that. It抯 the prefect shade of blonde. I also love Charlize Theron's hair color for her skin tone. Another is Jessica Chastain梙er color is amazing. A very big challenge for me was making her extensions for the Golden Globes this year. According to Oribe, the catch is that her hair is totally natural and has never been colored. Getting the text from him that night saying, "It's perfect!" was quite satisfying.

How can women update their shade for spring?
Updating starts with change. If your hair is too dark, try going lighter with highlights or playing with different shades of glosses to enhance what you have already.

Are there any other hot colors or coloring trends to experiment with this Spring?
I think redheads are going to make a big impact this spring卼he brighter the better!

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