We were able to catch up with legendary session hairstylist Orlando Pita at the Intercoiffure Fall Atelier in NYC where he gave an amazing presentation on behalf of Kérastase. Orlando has rubbed elbows with top designers and celebrities in the industry for 30 years!
It was a privilege to speak with him before his presentation of two looks he did for the Carolina Herrera Autumn/Winter 2014 and Spring/Summer 2015 Collection. “It’s important to try to get hairstylists to start thinking how to construct different kinds of hairstyles. If you don’t have the right products or the right tools it is hard to get the right hairstyle. So it’s very important to have the collaboration of Kérastase here because their products do help you achieve the look a lot easier.” Here’s the top ten things you need to know about Orlando Pita!
1. What is your favorite styling product so far?
“There is no favorite product for me or favorite anything. Because I feel that favorite puts you in a box and I like to be open to everything. If you look at the people in this room we all have different hair types. So for me to say one is my favorite product that may not be the right product for her and as a hairdresser I need to have an assortment of favorite products.”
2. What do you think makes your work different and so recognized even from the designers?
“I always strive to do things that I have never seen before, not saying that it has never been done before, but obviously we do not get to see everything. I always try to challenge myself to do things that excite me and maybe in that same way excite the client I am working with to book me again. I feel like if you repeat yourself season after season then you don’t become relevant anymore, and our job is to forecast what we think may be a desirable hairstyle for the following season. I’m already in that mindset of trying to come up with what is right for that designer, and also being a great team player I think has gotten me far in my career. I realized very earlier on in my career that it is not me alone who does good work. It needs to be everybody involved, to bring in all the ingredients to make a beautiful cake.”
3. So while you are backstage the designer needs someone to trust and say, “Okay I’m fine with this stylist.” Right?
“The people I work with I’ve developed long relationships with. Especially Carolina Herrera. This season particularly was very much a season of real hair, a lot of designers wanted real hair. Even though they wanted real hair I tried to sneak in pieces of my identity. Carolina doesn’t really follow the crowd in that way. She has elegant clothes. She wants her models to look elegant and there are people who want to look elegant and impeccably beautiful. That’s why I chose her because it is at least a living, breathing hairstyle photo instead of standing in place.”
4. What is a hairstyle you like more nowadays and the one you hate?
“I won’t say that I hate them, but I’ve had enough with the extensions on the wand and the curl things. I feel like it’s sort of became the Farrah Fawcett hairstyle which overstayed its welcome. Throughout time I think there are generic hairstyles like in the 80s it was the stiff bangs that went up and the permed pony tails. I think that it is time to move on from that hairstyle. Now women know how to do it themselves, everybody knows how to do it themselves. It’s up to us to move things forward.”
5. Which was your proudest moment as a hairstylist?
“I guess I would have to say I did Yves Saint Laurent last show. It was a couture show of his 40 year retrospective and he picked four to five outfits that were his favorites. It was a 3 and a half hour live show on French TV and it was 135 models and he brought back all of his favorites like Jerry Hall and Amalia. I mean, I love fashion and I love clothes so for me to see all those clothes was a highlight in my career.”
6. What do you think would be the best advice for young stylists working in the fashion industry?
“What is really important is to find something that identifies you. I think that the hardest thing to do is when people look at you and say “Oh, looks like an Orlando hairstyle.” That’s always good because I think you become more and more recognized. When I started in 1984 we didn’t have all these magazines, we didn’t have all these designers. We worked behind the scenes not in front of the scenes. Now, the backstage has become accessible to everybody and I think it is important to have a style. Something that sets you apart from the rest. Let’s face it: maybe a handful of us or two handfuls of us got to be the top hairdressers in the fashion world. So if you do not have an identity, you are not going to get there.”
7. What is the way to really start in the fashion world?
“If you look at the story, it’s not like when you study law, you go through this process and this process and then you take your bar exam and become a lawyer. With having a career in the fashion business, you just don’t know. I mean when I was starting out I didn’t know that these people were going to become stars. For instance: John Galliano, I did his first show and I didn’t know he was going to become a star. You gravitate toward people that you have likenesses with and you try to do your most creative work. And hopefully like in my case, ten years later, all of us kind of little by little became stars and kept working together. You don’t know this is going to happen, and you don’t know you are picking the right people. I was following my heart, these were the people I really like.”
8. What celebrity did you enjoy most hairstyling?
“I would have to say Madonna. I worked with Madonna for a long time, I did like twelve videos with her. Now we live in a time that there are managers, there are publicists, they are image control people. So when you work with a celebrity, they all have an opinion. Everyone tends to be safe, and to look the same. We don’t have a lot of differences now. With Madonna I was able to do special things and she was up for it. A lot of times they use this logic that you want your fans to recognize you. Well I think Madonna was recognized for looking different and being innovative.”
9. Can you share with us some of your guilty pleasures?
“My pleasures are just to detach from the world and society. I feel that my job is really social and I’m always pleasing somebody. If it’s not a designer, a photographer, a client in the salon, or three hundred people in an audience. So I think my pleasure is to really just run away from it all. I have a house in the country that’s on a dead end street on the river and I go in the river and I just get lost in my thoughts with my husband and my dog and my family. I only have a landline, there is no internet connection, so it’s really difficult to get in touch with me.”
10. Where do you see yourself in the next ten years.
“Wow… I so do not think of the future in that way, I try to stay in the moment because I do so many things. When I think of goals in my life, I think of who I want to be as a person. On a career level I’m exactly where I want to be. I can’t ask for more, I would have never thought I would’ve gotten to where I am. Like being on stage talking to other hairdressers.”