The team from Estetica Spain has been fortunate to be able to interview, Alexis Continente, the hairdresser from Barcelona responsible for the iconic Adam Driver/Maurizio Gucci look created for the House of Gucci film.
Adam Driver, Lady Gaga, Jared Leto, Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons… the looks of the film House of Gucci, directed by the legendary Ridley Scott, are on everyone’s lips. Estetica has had had the opportunity to talk with the hairdresser Alexis Continente, who runs the Conti salon in Barcelona with his sister Miriam, and who created the look of Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver), protagonist of the film – a key factor in understanding the character’s evolution over the years.
ALEXIS, FIRST OF ALL, HOW WAS IT WORKING WITH A CINEMA LEGEND LIKE RIDLEY SCOTT?
I was lucky enough to work on four of his films – he is a true god of cinema. When you see him directing a team of 500 people behind the camera via a radio, you are fascinated. He leaves you with enormous positive energy and his way of working really motivates you.
He likes to get down to business, so you can’t waste time. If you approach him for a leading character, as I did for House of Gucci, you have to be very direct. He is a very visual person. I would present my “mood boards” and he would discuss the options he had thought of for Maurizio Gucci’s hair. He would ask me about my choices, then I would discuss them and he would choose one of the options. So, you are always part of the team.
I IMAGINE THAT THERE ARE DIFFERENT CHALLENGES, TO RECREATE A CHARACTER LIKE MAURIZIO GUCCI; FOR WHOM THERE ARE SO MANY PHOTOS
Yes sure. We tried to understand where the director wanted to go, how he felt at ease and what kind of look the character had at that moment, tracing his image; initially shorter hair – how soldiers wore it – then longer as was the fashion later on. This evolution is also reflected in the film.
HOW DO YOU CREATE AN ICONIC LOOK LIKE THAT OF MAURIZIO GUCCI?
We are talking about the evolution of the character through the 70s, 80s and 90s; the period in which he was appearing on magazine covers. So obviously we are based on real references. However, I must also say that there was a technical decision on the part of the director and the actor. This was was: “how much do you want to look like the real character?” It is a complex process; visual effects technology means it would be possible to practically recreate a Maurizio Gucci twin.
Then there is a technical aspect behind it. This involves hours of make-up and which must also be taken into account. Adam Driver, who is the protagonist of the film, shot almost every day for four months. So, as can be seen in the film, it was decided from the first meetings that the character should have a very similar appearance to that of Maurizio, without being an exact replica.View this post on Instagram
HOW MANY HOURS OF WORK PER DAY DID THE CHARACTER REQUIRED FOR?
For Adam we created eight different hand-sewn wigs, recreating Maurizio Gucci’s different hairstyles over the years. In total, between hairstyle and make-up, there were about three hours of work a day. In the morning two hours for characterisation and in the afternoon practically one hour to take everything off. If you look, for example, at the look of the character of Jared Leto, who plays Paolo Gucci, and which was made by my colleagues, we are talking about four hours in the chair each morning.
THE LOOK OF MAURIZIO GUCCI HAS IS NOW ON TREND; IT IS RECEIVING PRAISE ALL OVER THE WORLD AND IS ALSO THE KEY TO UNDERSTANDING THE EVOLUTION OF THE CHARACTER.
Yes, that was the idea. The look that Adam wore at the beginning represents that period of the 70s; with a brown and silky hair of medium length covering his ears. It could have been the look of a swot studying law. Then he goes to New York, cuts his hair and wears it like a business man; with slightly long hair at the back, for that typical 80’s touch. And finally, another path, when he leaves his wife. and goes back to basics. Here is has with a more relaxed appearance again, with slightly longer hair and some grey highlights.
HOW DO YOU ASSESS THE EXPERIENCE OF YOUR WORK IN HOUSE OF GUCCI AND THE IMPACT OF THE FILM?
I am very happy and proud of the final result. Shooting with Ridley again and with that incredible number of cast actors was something wonderful: Jeremy Irons, Al Pacino, Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Jared Leto, Salma Hayek… It was a very hard job, with many hours of work at the day, but at the same time a lot of fun. Ridley loves shooting in real places, and it was great to be able to shoot in places like the Vatican, the Palace of Justice and other iconic places in Rome, where he was always full of paparazzi waiting to see Gaga and Adam. It was an extraordinary experience that I really enjoyed.
AND NOW … WHAT IS AFTER HOUSE OF GUCCI?
Once the movie was done, Adam asked me to continue with him on his next project and that’s where I went. We spent six months in Cleveland, United States, to shoot his new film which will premiere on Netflix next year. For the rest I really like traveling, learning about new cultures and I’d like to continue working for a good part in the world of cinema, especially with Adam, who I really appreciate as an actor and also personally. Confirmed projects? There are some things, yes, but at the moment I can’t talk about them… I’ll tell you about them! (Laughs).
WHEN DID YOU GET IN CONTACT WITH THE WORLD OF CINEMA?
It was in 2012, I had already been with Mie Mani for eight months. The salon owner had a friend who looked after actor Chris Hemsworth’s hair and occasionally brought Chris’s stuntmen to the salon, so that they had the same styling as the actor in the film in question. This hairdresser, Luca Vannella, already knew how I worked and started asking me to take care of the hair of the stuntmen or to create a wig so that it was the same as the one worn by the protagonist. One fine day Chris Hemsworth himself came into the salon. At that time he was shooting Snow White and the Hunter, he had dark hair, with extensions on the back, and Luca asked me to help him fix his hair.
After the job, I threw myself: “I want to go to studies to try”, I said to my friend. At first he advised me against it, since it was a very different type of work, with wigs for HD and that you had to be very specialized … But over time I continued with the idea of working in the cinema. The next film Chris made in London was Thor: The Dark World and that was when I kept lobbying. My friend told me that if I wanted to try, then there were no problems, but that he couldn’t promise me anything. And that’s how I quit my hairdressing job and went to work – initially for free – at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire.
DO YOU REMEMBER A PRECISE MOMENT WHEN YOU THINKED: “MY LIFE HAS CHANGED”?
“Well … yes. Natalie Portman was starring in this same movie and her mother was on set and she needed to do the color before she flew to Los Angeles to attend a charity event. Since he didn’t have time to go to a salon, and the professionals who work for the cinema usually don’t do the dyes, my boss Luca asked me if I would like to do it: “Just don’t mess around”, he warned me. So it was that I did the color in one of the campers parked in the base camp. “I think she was happy,” I told my boss.
Two days later Luca called me to tell me that the lady was so satisfied that she wanted me to suggest how to order the same color in Los Angeles. For me it was already a great success… but another two days passed, and Luca called me back: “Come, it’s urgent”. He came in and said, “Get ready, Natalie asked me to color her in two hours.” So I showed up for the paint in the trailer where Chris Hemsworth was also present. Natalie was very happy and when I finished coloring her, Chris asked my boss if I could color him too, to avoid going to the salon in London. And this is how, in two months, I went from working in a salon in Shoreditch to the world of cinema and having the hair of Natalie Portman and Chris Hemsworth in my hands.View this post on Instagram
The movie ended and I was shocked… (Alexis Continente laughs) It was all over, I lost my job and I had to take a step back. But my resume wasn’t the same anymore: I could already say I did the color for Chris or the wigs for Natalie and the personal color. This is already an important wild card. I remember it was the turn of Exodus: Dei e Re – my second great film with Ridley Scott – and for the occasion they offered me a permanent “junior” contract for the entire film. I was in the trailer with Christian Bale, with Sigourney Weaver, with Aaron Paul… it was like a dream. There was also María Valverde, who in the film played the wife of Christian Bale, who for me was the first great actress for whom I took care of her image on a daily basis throughout the film.
From then on, it was through word of mouth: I got better and better on the subject of HD wigs and hairpieces, having the opportunity to work for Mamma Mia Here We Go Again, Murder on the Orient Express with Penelope Cruz, The Mummy, Transformers : the last knight… and for television, in series like Gomorrah and Penny Dreadful, nominated for an Emmy Awards.