22 May 2024

NAHA 25 Years: John Donato On The Life Changing NAHA!

NAHA is celebrating 25 amazing years in just a few more weeks, and we had the pleasure of speaking with visionary and stylist extraordinaire John Donato, who is the go-to-guy of photographers, editors and celebrities worldwide.

With an easy-going nature and a vision that far exceeds anyone’s expectations, John takes both men and women from simple to stunning. Donato won NAHA’s Editorial Stylist of the Year in 2008 and has been a finalist countless times, here’s what he had to say about his NAHA experience…

What does it mean in the industry to win a NAHA award, what changed in your career?
“Winning a NAHA award means a lot to me and my career. Puts me in a place of pride and great sense of accomplishment, to be recognized by some of the best hairdressers in the world, feels great.”

How did you feel the night you won the title of Editorial Hairstylist of the Year at the NAHAs 2008?
“Wow, I felt great that night. It [was] so great to be back, getting another NAHA. This one was super special. I spent my whole career from my teens working with models and photographers on editorial shoots for countless magazines. So to be able to share some of my editorial work and get an award for this story was so amazing. And yes we drank lots of alcohol and had lots of laughs with hairdressing friends from all over North America at the after party!”

What inspired you for your 2008 winning collection?
“Very simple on this story. The inspiration came from the model, the location or back drop (night club location in Toronto called Circa) and most importantly the clothes. As this was a fashion story. I wanted to create something different but still complement the fashion story. I wanted it to look glamorous and very polished.”

What has been your best memory/related anecdote with NAHA even before you were there?
“I have been a finalist in countless NAHA over the years. It’s great to win one every now and then. My memories of the friends I have in this industry from all over the world. This is the time and place I get to network, poke fun at some and just a time to have fun with people in the industry I love so much.”

From your experience, what do you think you have to do to win the coveted Editorial Hairstylist of the Year award?
“First you have to enter. You can’t win the Lotto if you don’t buy a ticket. Really what do you want to be recognized for. What are you good at. Now you can pick your category and produce your entry.”

Which artists do inspire you in your work?
“My inspiration comes from many artists. An artist that inspired me and taught me so much early in my career was Dwight Miller, and this year he is being honored for a lifetime achievement award. Dwight has touched so many artist careers. Inspiration comes from my team in my salons, students in my school, photographers models and fashion. Music videos do wake me up from time to time.”

Tell us about your professional life nowadays and goals for next years to come.
“Today I am behind the chair in my salons. I manage 3 salons and spas and a hairdressing school called Donato Academy with 180 employees. I’m always doing creative photo shoots with local fashion photographers. And I do have some commercial fashion and beauty clients I do hair for, for their advertising campaigns.”


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