So once I got over my line of Olsen questioning I finally got down to business.
If there’s a common thread among the people I’ve interviewed, it’s their nostalgia for a time when talent was enough, when you worked hard and made your way up the chain to the ridiculously successful place in which they all sit now instead of these days when everyone wants a piece of the industry and who you know becomes more important than what you know.
In Part II, we talk about how Rolando ended up at Bumble & bumble, Fashion Week work versus editorial work, being on a plane with Charlie’s Angels and his Madonna moment – because really, everyone has one.
Okay, so how’d you go from sales to hair?
I went to beauty school and got a license and worked at Gerard Bollei’s salon and the clientele there were RICH. I mean carats and carats of diamonds, loaded underneath fur coats. There was this one woman who’d come in with the longest mink coat, but it was red. Dyed like the color of red velvet cake and she was a double processed platinum blond with a ten carat emerald cut diamond ring on her finger. I mean you looked at her and it was like, “Wow.” When she walked in everyone stared. She was just fabulous.
That’s amazing. So you cut there for a bit and then where’d you go?
From there I came to Bumble & bumble!
Oh, that was quick.
Yeah I’ve been with Bumble for years. I really lucked out because I was only here just a few months whenI became Michael Gordon’s assistant [Bumble's founder]. And then I did that for about a year before I was put on the floor to cut hair.
Is that fast?
It can take three years, four, five.
Yeah. It depends on how much you put into it, how much progress you show and how good you were when you got here. The apprentice program’s changed a lot since I was here, but you know, there are natural hairdressers and those who work harder to learn the craft. I think I was, well I am, a natural hairdresser.
So how do you transition from a salon to editorial?
I’d always wanted to get into editorial and it was so different back then. There were less people in it and much less competition. I don’t know how people do it now. I guess you have to become the assistant to someone really big. You have to know someone, and someone very successful.
I swear it’s the only way into anything in this industry. It’s impossible!
I mean I didn’t have a portfolio or anything but I met this agent and I had one little picture and she took me under her wing and that’s sort of how I got my break.
So now that you’re a big editorial hotshot, do you still just cut anyone’s hair?
I do have a little private clientele just because I like doing it. And if I’m at a shoot and have time I’ll cut everyone’s hair and I’m always cutting models’ hair.
Rolando does Pam Anderson’s hair at Vivienne Westwood’s AW09 Gold Label show.
Let’s talk about Fashion Week. You do a lot of shows. Walk me through that process. What’s the most challenging part?
For me, it’s the initial hair test. So I go and meet with the designer. And there are some that know what they want which is kind of easy. But when they’re not sure and just throwing ideas at you you have to try several things until they see what they like. And then there’s the stylist’s opinion, too. And these are either a week or a couple of days before.
I know you’ve done hair for Vivienne Westwood for a few seasons now. Is it easy now that you’ve done it?
No I still get stressed out every time. You have to prove yourself again – You’re as good as your last shoot. Is that what they say? So you get the look down and everyone gets one, an image of the look. And the morning of, or a few hours before the show, I walk my team through my process, how I got the look and then everyone goes off and does their models. And then as they’re doing it I keep my eye on it and sort of monitor everyone and I try and match the girls to their stylists based on everyone’s strengths and the girl’s hair.
What’s the most elaborate show you’ve ever done?
The first Vivienne, AW08. There were a lot of different looks happening and this mix up with my team and I just ended up doing a lot on my own.
Okay, so editorial. Is there a magazine you particularly love?
French Vogue. I need to work for French Vogue. I dream of working for them. I want to do a really fabulous fashion story and the cover would be nice, too. You know when you open a magazine and just go, “Wow, this is really beautiful?” I want that story to be mine. And I want it to be in French Vogue.
Who do you want to shoot it? Any model preferences?
You know I’m just going to leave that all open. I’m just throwing that out into the universe. I just want to work on a story for French Vogue. And I want it to be ten to twelve pages.
Do you prefer editorial or Fashion Week work?
You know, I’m a Gemini so I love having both. The balance is great. This season I did quite a lot of shows and I thought I’d be burnt out. But at the end I wanted more. But now I’m in the editorial vibe.
Rolando’s work in Numero
Didn’t you do Kirsten Davis’ hair for the Sex and the City tour?
Yeah! I’m doing her again next week actually.
So how’d that come about?
Again, word of mouth. It’s just a constant process of referrals – whether it’s models, makeup artists, agents or whoever saying, “Oh you know who’d be great at this?” Or someone sees your stuff in a magazine and gets in touch. So I’d worked with a stylist on a New York Times story and she knew Kristen in LA and put us together.
That press tour must’ve been major.
Oh my god, the London premiere was insane. I was like, “What do I wear?” So I went to J.Crew and got these paisley pants and I bought this beautiful blazer at another store, with a white shirt. And when I rolled up, because we all got our own private cars to take us there, so I was with the makeup artist and the paparazzi were just like on top of us. So the producer turned to the director and was like, “Who is that?” And then they realized I was no one.
Would you ever do hair for a movie?
You know what? Drew Barrymore asked me to do hair for one of her movies once and I turned it down because it’s just such a different vibe. You spend weeks and weeks and weeks with someone and the hours are crazy and it’s about getting one look down and repeating it over and over again and I’m just a fashion person. But if they asked me to do a 70s fashion period piece I’d totally do it!
Does anyone ever make you nervous?
Someone made me super nervous the other day actually! I had a really really really famous singer take the brush out of my hand.
Who was it?
No! I would freak to do Madonna’s hair.
Okay, but everyone I interview has a Madonna moment. Tell me yours.
I was good friends with Debbie Mazar, a long time ago when she was doing hair and makeup. When was Speed the Plow? Madonna, that era. So I was working in LA, staying at the Sunset Marquis and I ran into Debbie and she was like, “What are you doing for dinner tonight?” and then she was like, “You have to be my date.” I mean I didn’t know where I was going or what I was getting myself into but I get to the restaurant, some fashion-y whatever and who are we having dinner with? Madonna, Rupert Everett and that guy who’d just done a video or something with her? The Sex Book maybe? They were all at a table.
Oh my god? Did you die?
All I could think was, “Oh my fucking god.” I remember exactly what I was wearing because I was sitting there going, “Oh my god, I’m sitting here with the most famous person in the world.” And she kept looking over and smiling at me – because you know she has a thing for Puerto Rican boys – and I was much younger and cuter.
What were you wearing?
Denim. I had on jeans and a yellowish linen shirt and a denim jacket. And I had hair then! I mean, Madonna. And then we went dancing afterward.
Did you guys talk?
Yes! I just kept thinking, “Oh my fucking god. Madonna just paid for my dinner.” And I remember shaking her hand because I’d never touched such soft hands in my life. Her hands were beautiful.
Her skin is unreal. I never really thought of her as a particularly pretty person, per se, but after the first time I saw her in person. I mean, her skin glows like there’s a light bulb underneath.
Did you touch her hands?
No I didn’t, I was an intern and I handed her champagne at a party. But I did not touch her hands.
You should have, they’re amazing. Then actually Debi Mazar had this birthday party and Madonna was there again!
So you guys are like old friends!
Oh god no, she doesn’t know who I am. But I loved my Madonna moment. You know what other moment I had? I was doing Drew Barrymore -
Oh god I love her.
She’s incredible. The most lovely person. And she has an amazing house. I did her a couple of years ago during Charlie’s Angels. So I was on this Lear jet, this private G4 with her Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu and I was like, “Oh god I’m with Charlie’s Angels!” So that was amazing.
Has anyone ever been a terror?
Oh yeah. I got one that was really – wait, off the record?
Can I just take the name off?
Okay sure. A super famous movie star, more famous in the 70s. She’s known to be a nightmare and I did her hair – though she was more of a nightmare to the makeup artists. Anyway, she had a magnifying mirror that she would hold up to like every single pore, every single hair and then she made the makeup artist move every single eyelash a millimeter at a time. Like so minute, and then at the end, the bitch was being filmed under soft lighting for like a video conference.
I wonder if people are like that anymore. If they still pull that shit.
Well, you know, I was reading this book about Bette Davis and Joan Crawford and Bette had a run in with this particular person and she just couldn’t stand her.
People are nuts. Favorites?
DRINK: Don’t drink alcohol. Super into vegetable juices right now.
PLACE: New York City
MAGAZINE: French Vogue
FOOD: A lot. I love my mom’s Puerto Rican cooking & Angelika’s Kitchen. But if I could live on pizza, vanilla ice cream and white chocolate macadamia cookies, I’d be a very happy person.
PRODUCT: Bumble & bumble Does It All Hairspray