James Pecis is the guru of creative runway hair. His global career and Fashion Week resume makes him a celebrity among the world of beauty and beyond, making his image someone hairdressers worldwide relate to through the shiny pages of a fashion magazine or through celebrity’s start-studded Instagrams.
With education being one of our top obsessions, and one of the most important roles of this guru in the business, we sat down with James to talk about the Oribe Ateliers, which allow ANYONE to learn from him personally, as well as others from the Oribe team, as listed below.
This five-city educational tour has two events left:
Monday, October 17 – Nashville, Track One (1211 4th Ave S)
Educators Presenting: Coby Alcantar, Kien Hoang, James Pecis, Christian Ceja-Compin
Monday, December 5 – L.A., Milk Studios (855 N Cahuenga Blvd)
Educators Presenting: Coby Alcantar, Kien Hoang, James Pecis, Louis Orozco
I know that you have been educating for some time now and I wanted to get your opinion on Oribe’s Journey to Mastery.
“What we wanted to focus on was the message. So we had to ask ourselves what we wanted to say to hairdressers: we want to focus on being current in our industry. So, with the ateliers we sat down with a group of our educators and went through the looks that we created during the shows and focused on this whole new idea of what is current and happening. Our clients now have the ability to see a fashion show the same day and that has lead to them trying to book appointments that same evening trying to get the same fringe cut they saw in the fashion show. So what we have decided to do is instead of coming up with new content for every class we are actually taking things that we do every day and then we are applying it to what we are trying to teach. We take what we are doing on the runway and show how to take it back to the salon. That is how we keep the classes as current as possible. Clients are now coming in and they are smarter than they have ever been before. We like to focus on trends and trends within the trends.“
Why did you think about launching this kind of educational programme?
“This Journey to Mastery came about due to a turn of education that is out there with no quality control. Social media has changed how we view success and quality. It really has blurred the lines and created a gray area so social media is something that we definitely focus on. We want to use social media as a tool in the future. This is a very exciting time because social media enables that which allows them to have a global portfolio. Social media offers exposure to those who may not have had it before. Taking it back to the educational side, Oribe has wanted to do something like this because it’s always been at the highest level with everything that they do; from their fragrances, to their packaging and their products, we wanted to come up with an educational programme that would just blow everyone away. It would be more like the MIT/Harvard of hair. And that is what we have done!”
How do you decide the trends that you want to feature at the events, what you want to focus on?
“What I did this season was I sat down with our group and I went through all the shows we worked on and all the shows in general and we focused on the things that were being repeated the most. What I did is personalize the editorial that I work on, because that I do during the year influences what I do during the shows and vice versa and what happens on the campaign. So I’m trying to take references from the shows, editorial and campaign from the previous season and we explain the look and the steps to achieve it.”
“With the Journey to Mastery there are different segments of the teachings that we call The Foundations and those we don’t change; they are extremely important. The core foundations are the must-knows. But there is another chapter that shows what evolves each season so that the class continues to focus on what we are actually doing right then and there. What happens is we sit down and come up with collections, and its really cool and really fun, but it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with that’s going on at the moment. You need the creative bursts. We are a very creative and talented group of individuals, we aren’t just following trends – we are working with the teams that are creating them for the season.“
On that note, tell me about the class program that the team is working on.
“My plan for this year is a game plan for Oribe to revolutionize its social media and enhancing and strengthening the brand’s identity. People used to think social media could be done on the fly and now they are beginning to realize that there has to be a strategy behind it. There’s nothing out there like this. It’s not easy – it’s hard and its meant to be hard.“
“Some of the other features that are setting us apart and game changers are, one, is to have a programme that’s open to people everywhere, the reasoning behind this is because the content is superior, it consists of intense hardcore classes that actually better the skills you have. By opening this to everyone everywhere it enhances the credibility of the programme. We just spent a few weeks on an intensive grading class and we are all excited about it. It teaches users not the standard salon techniques but proper add ins, extension, box sprays and many other techniques. And it’s hard, it’s very hard and we had to devise different types of teaching styles.“
Was it intended to be as hyper-specific as it is?
“Yes, it’s part of the foundations and we have a setting class that teaches you how to use a curling iron 10 different ways in a very thorough fashion. The other thing I think is very cool is that you can pick and choose what you want to see. If someone wants to go through the whole programme and truly advance their knowledge and then at the end they would get a two day tutorial and they would be able to plan the different looks for their own photo shoot and they would learn what to do with different looks including when to wash the hair etcetera. The programme may not be for everyone but there is material that is helpful for everyone.”
Let’s talk a little bit about you, personally. In terms of future with the brand, what are your goals with Oribe?
“This year has been awesome! Better than what I expected. I just had a meeting in Miami 2 days ago, got the team together and focused on the identity and goals of the future. Oribe is going through a transitional period and we are continuing to work through it. It’s very important to stay current, accessible, young and cool all at the same time, that’s a major focus for the brand and me. We just reshot an entire campaign unlike anything they have done before. We are rebuilding the infrastructure of the team to make the education stronger and more effective as we go along. We are also looking at product development and next year we will be launching some products that are like nothing they have ever had before.“
Any way you can drop some hints to Estetica about them?
“Oh, absolutely! There is a dry shampoo coming out later on I call it magic… it’s like a textured dust that comes out in a non aerosol pump and I have a feeling that will be something super special. It is definitely one of my favorite products.“
How do you push yourself and keep that spark of creativity? Do you go crazy with materials? Flowers are popular in the runways!
“It’s so funny that you mention that because I was on a call the other day with some people in London and we were talking about building flower crowns. It’s fun to play with hair. You know it can be ridiculous and crazy sometimes but it’s just fun! That’s the thing with art, there doesn’t have to be no rhyme or reason… it’s all about what feels good!“
By Alejandra Acuña