in attendance : Oribe Backstage 2011

Las Vegas NV – May 22 to 23 2011Hair stylist Erin Moser of Chez Ann Salon and contributor to many Auxiliary Magazine fashion and beauty editorials attends Oribe Backstage 2011 and tells us all about it.

Luxury. Extravagance. Perfection. This is the epitome of Oribe.

Erin’s hair model, middle

Even if you have never heard the name Oribe, you have seen his work countless times in every form of media. Oribe (pronounced OR-bay) is one of the most world-renowned celebrity hairstylists whose combination of session, celebrity, and salon work spans over three decades. He is constantly defining styles and breaking down creative barriers. He has worked with the likes of photographers Richard Avedon and Annie Leibovitz, fashion designers such as Gianni Versace and Karl Lagerfeld, makeup artists François Nars and Kevyn Aucoin, and too many stars to name including helping launch Jennifer Lopez’s career, and nowadays he has styled for Miss Momma Monster herself, Lady Gaga.

When you work with the best, you have to play with the best. And when I say, “play with the best”, I mean it. Oribe has teamed up with people that have made his wildest dreams come true. After thirty years of innovative styling, he decided to launch his signature line of truly original styling products. As they state, “This line is for taste-driven individuals who know that personal style – perfectly expressed through excellence.” These innovative products have helped me do things I never imagined possible, even once I was wearing some pure 24 Kt gold in my hair.

This past May, Oribe and his team held the 3rd annual “Backstage” event. The first was in New York in 2009 and was all about darkly romantic vampires. The second was in Las Vegas in 2010 and seemed to be heavily influenced by John Waters’ image of “Grotesque Glamour”. Backstage Las Vegas is all about extravagance, big hair, unique tastes, great music, and the highest forms of hairdressing in the city that truly never sleeps. Each year, the die-hard followers of Oribe come together to see his stage show and take in all the inspiration, and then run with it, putting on our own runway show.

This year’s venue was The Joint Theatre in the Hard Rock Hotel. On the first night, Oribe took the stage in his always-polished suit, cigarette in hand, creating larger-than-life looks on his casted models. DJ Aladdin spun custom mixes of hand-picked songs. As Oribe himself put it, “If this was the last show I ever did, this would be it.” The show really summed him up. Inspirations for this year were “Pussycats” aka powerful woman with gigantic hair, candy colored wigs by celeb colorist Anthony Palermo, Greek sculptures, the underworld, and the post-apocalypse. There were bubbles, smoke, glow-in-the-dark bodies being painted to an amazing light show, wigs being cut on nearly nude models, and the finale of a Venus-type woman standing in place as wefts of hair blew wildly from her limbs as Oribe stood behind her, working an industrial fan, blowing the mane of hair every which way. He and his team, all in creepily futuristic plastic masks accepted the crowd’s wild applause. After a night of inspiration overload, everyone was anxious for the next day, hands-on with models and then our fashion show.

Everyone got up after a long night of partying at the exclusive spots where we were all treated to VIP Access, and the we headed to the workroom. This year’s mission was to transform 200 models for the runway. All of our models started off looking the same, black tanks, black leggings, and they had our work bags. Inside contained some amazing new and limited edition Oribe products to sculpt our final look. We were to each mold our model’s hair into a shape, “from the underworld, the apocolypse, the future, where everyone is perfect and plastic,” as Oribe put it. After the hair, we had to place a clear mask over their face, just so it distorted their face. I had my idea at “underworld”. Horns, of course. Luckily, my model had a mane of gorgeous hair, so I sculpted away with an entire tub of white Rock Hard Gel, creating spiraling horns. When I was finally done, I realized I was the only one who did such an evil-looking style, but I was so happy with it. Apparently Oribe and his team were too, and they seemed to like my crazy approach. And then there was the tulle we had to turn into an impromptu outfit with the last 5 minutes to spare. The few minutes before the show and behind the scenes are always a scramble, but you always hope it goes off without a glitch.

The girls hit the runway to the final set of our DJ’s choice mix of “Supernature”. They looked so uniform until your got to their hair. There was every shape you could imagine. A sea of girls painted white. White hair, white faces, all draped in white. It was exactly what he was pushing us to do, you could even read it through his mask. Oribe and his masked team helped the girls make a rotation through the theater and around the runway so we could take it all in. A show takes many hours to create, and for just a few minutes, you get to really see the bigger picture. Amazing.

Who knows what will be planned in this next year. Everything always gets bigger and better when it comes to Oribe. And you never know what random curiosity will inspire him. I feel so special to have been following this team for the past 3 years. Everyone who has been at this event knows what I am talking about. I am so glad that a true master of the craft has taken hair where it’s never gone before, and is willing to share the tricks up his sleeves. Although, right when you get those new tricks down, Oribe is always ten steps ahead with a new style idea. True style is really such an individual thing, and he understands that better than anyone I think. You can find inspiration in the most obscure places if you know where to look, even if it ends up being in the scattered mess you make while molding your very own hair into some sort of sculpture.

photos : Erin Moser

– Erin Moser

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