Sunday, August 8, 2010


After fielding several emails from readers asking where I work, I decided to offer some insight into my world over the past 10 months. I would like to share with you a bit about the salon where I spend my days, and some of my experience so far. As I mentioned in previous posts, I've followed Orlando Pita's career for many years, dreaming of having a good long conversation with him about hair and his journey with it. One day I was doing online research to see what he was up to, and I came upon this article on the man and his salon by Karen Tina Harrison. An excerpt:

"Orlo is all about hair: No other services are offered, and its plain white space underscores the salon’s tight focus on the scalps and manes of the city’s fashion elite. Set in a Meatpacking District walk-up, the salon is owned by coiffeur Orlando Pita, who honed his reputation over decades of photo shoots."
Harrison describes the salon well, its focus being great hairdressing and efficient service in a studio-like environment. That short article provided me with all the information I needed to know; I was on the right track to finding a new home.

During my interview with Orlando, I was so nervous! You must understand, I fantasized of simply having a talk with him, but applying for a job at his salon was a little out of my league (or so I humbly thought). As we chatted about my career and professional goals he asked a key question: What was I looking for in applying for the position? My reply was simple: I know there is so much more to hair than I now realize, and I would love to widen the scope of my experience and learn all I can. He smiled and I knew he got my point.

As many of you can relate, their are so many layers to the creative aspect of our business, and it's very easy to become comfortable with what you know. Needless to say, the past 10 months have been the most challenging of my career, creatively. Not to say that the early years were not challenging; they most definitely were. The difference with this position was that although I was at my strongest point creatively, I was about to enter a new environment that would drastically change my experience with hair as I've known it thus far.

Let me explain. Throughout my career I've heard so much of 90 degrees, 45 degrees, traveling guidelines. I am very visual, so cutting by numbers just always struck me as odd. The flip side to this is that although being visual is an asset, there has to be a level of precision. So is it possible to have a very visual, relaxed approach to a haircut backed by very clean, precise technique? The answer is "yes" and I have spent the past 10 months adapting to this compromise. Hair-cutting as I know it has totally changed and this is no exaggeration.

The truth is, I can't explain it fully, nor can there be a DVD or even a website illustrating my point. It's a very personalized technique pertaining to the client's face shape, density and texture, and it's done with a razor on dry hair. At Orlo, Joe Martino has been guiding me into this new creative direction and has been generous with sharing what was taught to him by Orlando himself.
What I love most about training under Joe is that he understands my background in cutting wet hair with a razor and scissors; he knows how I think (or how I used to think, I should say). It's been exciting to witness my clients notice the big difference in their hair, and the resulting influx of new clients that are looking for something special that they hear I can provide.


Another area that has been essential to my training is my experience working Fashion Week. It's really a whole other world. In the salon, styling hair is far more forgiving as it's softer, more flexible, and there are no cameras or bright lights. Conversely, during Fashion Week it's totally about efficiency, detail and the ability to hold fresh looks for the cameras. I recall working for the Carolina Herrera show: The look was a sleek finish (not pin-straight) and we were to rely solely on the brush. On finishing, I sized up my model and she looked great. Orlando then came by to coach me (it being my first show ever). Gentle as usual, he expressed satisfaction... right up until he separated the hair, that is. There it was—a small section that was not adequately polished. He kindly but firmly pointed out that every section of hair should be perfect, always. I took his advice to heart. Now, for every client I touch, I remember that moment and try my best to pay attention to the details. I have learned that this vital lesson—attention to detail—is what separates the men from the boys in our industry. : )

I'm sure many of you can relate to the idea that having your dream job can be an utterly rewarding experience, with a ripple effect touching every aspect of your life. Those of you who can't relate (at least not yet), keep working hard and one day you too will have the job you've always wanted. And that's a promise.

Antonio Gonzales


Youmna Zod said...
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