• Master colorist Lena Ott<br />
<br />
Image courtesy of Lena Ott
  • Inside Ott's sun-drenched Soho salon, Suite Caroline
  • Suite Caroline's well-curated book collection and retail area
  • The stylist stations at Suite Caroline<br />
<br />
Image courtesy of Lena Ott
  • Customized seating in the salon
  • Lena created this rainbow hue on model Chloe Norgaard and Beatrix Ost for this 'Harper's Bazaar' shoot
  • The back of Chloe Norgaard's rainbow color for 'Harper's Bazaar'
  • Lena colored models Karen Elson, Jacob Morton and Guinevere Van Seenus for this shoot photographed by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott
  • Lena and the Suite Caroline team<br />
<br />
Image courtesy of Lena Ott

Lena Ott

Lena Ott has made a name for herself as the go-to colorist for models wanting a change of hue. Her list of clients includes some of the fashion industry’s biggest names, from designer Alexander Wang to supermodels Doutzen Kroes and Anja Rubik. Earlier this year, Ott opened her salon, Suite Caroline, in a sun-drenched second-story Soho loft that feels quintessentially New York. We asked the young beauty pro to share a few of her favorite moments from her successful career, her best tips for aspiring colorists and which Oribe products she recommends to keep their colored locks healthy.

How would you describe the design of the salon, and where did you find the inspiration for it?

We’ve been calling the design “Soho Tropic.” I worked with these designers, UHURU, who are based in Red Hook, Brooklyn. I found them when I was looking for mirrors, and I fell in love with everything they do. I had a lot of custom furniture made through them.

Where did the salon’s name, Suite Caroline, come from?

The salon is named after my mother. When she passed away from breast cancer, my dad bought a guitar and named it Sweet Caroline. When I heard it, I thought, “I’m going to name my salon that someday,” so I wrote it down in a sketchbook and nine years later, named my salon Suite Caroline.

What’s one thing that makes Suite Caroline unique?

Above all else, we’re a team and everybody supports everybody. It’s not one man out for him or herself. My staff knows that we’re not in competition with each other—we’re all extremely supportive and understand that there’s enough to go around.

Why did you decide to open Suite Caroline?

I opened Suite Caroline because it was time for me to start doing my own thing and seeing my visions through...but it takes a village! That’s why I chose not to name the salon after myself. Suite Caroline represents the entire team. Part of achieving my personal goals as a hairdresser is by helping others achieve theirs. The longer I'm an owner, the more I understand that and it feels amazing to brainstorm ideas with my team and make them a reality.

You’re basically the go-to for models wanting to update their color. How did you get your start in the industry?

I started working at Bumble and bumble in 2001. It began with being given the opportunity to work on "in house" models for and eventually I was booked with some of the "new faces" from certain modeling agencies that Bumble and bumble had relationships with. It grew from there.

That being said, you’ve gotten to work on some amazing projects like Gaga’s “Alejandro” video and with Gwen Stefani. What are a few of your favorite projects that you’ve worked on?

The first that comes to mind was doing the rainbow hair on model Chloe Norgaard and Beatrix Ost for a Harper’s Bazaar shoot with Terry Richardson. That was the first time I got to do pop colors like that on a model's hair and not a wig. Another favorite was going upstate with photographers Mert and Marcus on a two-day shoot. There were huge, huge trailers and a food truck that came everyday. One of the shots had a big bonfire in the background. There was so much detail! I got to create a really fun grunge look for fall. I gave model Karen Elson one of my favorite special red blends and took male model Jacob Morton blonde like Kurt Kobain. Malcolm Edwards and I used temporary chalk to create a coral tone on model Guinevere Van Seenus, since she had to go right back to her pale blonde after. I colored six models total. It was one of the few times I got to work on a production of that scale, and I won’t ever forget it. Most recently, I've been using markers and different mediums to create graphic designs on the hair and that is turning into a favorite!

What are your tips for aspiring colorists who want to break into editorial?

You want to link up with talented editorial hairstylists who are like minded and fun to work with. They’re typically going to be the ones that bring a colorist onboard for a shoot. Also start building relationships with modeling agencies. Their trust is important.

Which colorists do you look up to?

I'm really impressed by Laurie Foley's editorial career. She was also an influential mentor of mine. I love what Victoria Hunter has been doing for the Marc Jacobs shows recently. Also, I admire and look up to the work that my team is doing at Suite Caroline daily.

What are you currently listening to? Reading?

I’ve been listening to a lot of Stevie Nicks and I’ve been reading All About Love by Bell Hooks.

Which hues are you loving this season?

All summer I was into gold being present in colors (although there are always exceptions). So far for fall and winter I've been using more toners than I did over the summer with hints of pearl or pink to mute out the yellow.

What are a few tips for caring for color-treated hair?

I just started using Intense Conditioner for Moisture & Control, and I love, love, love it. I recommend using a mask once a week to all my clients. Also, Split End Seal!

What’s one movie every creative person should have in their reference library?

I would say the skateboarding documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys. It’s not an art movie, per se, but they really pioneered something, not for monetary gain but solely for the love of their craft. Also, The Fall is a visually stunning film.
Go Back


First to Know

Get the latest news, offers and style tips delivered to your inbox.

Thank you for subscribing.