Talk about overachievers. In high school, Kristin Ess was working at a posh Beverly Hills salon, paving the way for her current stylist spot at Warren-Tricomi salon in Los Angeles. At the young age of 20, she began working on runway shows, eventually creating hair for designers including Marc Jacobs, Diesel, St. John, Rami Kashou, and Thom Browne. She's also worked with Rachel McAdams, Amber Valetta, Rachael Leigh Cook, and the Hills ladies.
A few weeks ago, I got to talk with Kristin about her career, hair trends, and the best drugstore steals. Since we had a lot to talk about, I'm splitting the interview into a few parts. Be sure to come back tomorrow for more insights and advice from Kristin!
You started working in a Beverly Hills salon when you were in high school. How did you know at such a young age that you wanted to work with hair?
I have nine brothers and sisters—I'm number 10. Most of them were younger than me, so I was always doing someone's hair. It was always my thing. Everybody knew that's what I was going to do. I did a report on it in the fourth grade for my career report, and my mom still has that and it's framed. It's like, "I want to move to Beverly Hills and do hair for One Life to Live" or something. I just always knew I wanted to style hair.
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Before we talked, I was trying to think of well-known stylists that are women. I know of a ton that are men—Ted Gibson and Harry Josh, for example—but for women, it seems like there's Sally Hershberger but not a lot of other famous female stylists. Why do you think that is?
I don't know, but I'm working on that! It's always been my problem. Do you know Odile Gilbert from Paris? She's been in it for a long time. She's amazing. She's done Galliano runway, Viktor and Rolf, everything. And her work is very distinct—you know her work when you see it. There are a couple of women, but very few.
[Hair styling] is definitely saturated with men. It's funny, because I was actually watching the screening of Bumble & bumble Hair Heroes when it came out. I was sitting there with [B&b founder] Michael Gordon and I asked, "Why are there no women in this at all? You guys are styling women's hair and there are no women hairdressers." It's all men. It's just so funny to me.
Yeah, it's very strange because I feel there's such a bond with a hairdresser, and sometimes women might better understand what it's like to have long hair.
Exactly. It's funny because we always have that conversation. If there are men, whether there are gay or straight, I think sometimes a straight man doing hair knows what he wants to see a woman look like, so he can produce sexy hairstyles. And then gay men, I have conversations with these guys, and some are like, "I always wanted to have long hair, so I try it on my clients. With women, we know because of firsthand experience. It's interesting that you mention it—because people know it, but nobody really mentions the fact that there are not a lot of women doing editorial styling.
Come back tomorrow for more of my interview!