Turn the calendar back to 2002 and you would find Celebrity Hairdresser Ben Skervin spending most evenings every week at behind his chair with Madonna in front of the mirror.
Ben was tasked with transforming Madonna every evening into her character - Loren - in the play Up for Grabs.
Was Ben tasked with creating Madonna's hairstyles from his own vision? No, it was a collaboration between the two. Like most celebrity hairdressers, it is important for the client and the hairdresser to find a common ground or a meeting of minds so that both feel comfortable with the outcome.
In an interview in the Evening Standard in London Ben explained "Madonna and I discussed the visual and practical needs, including the amount of time on and off state, quick changes and the evolution of the character throughout the play".
With the character and her ongoing evolution in mind, Ben created a "sassy do" which translated into an "elegant wavy do" for the first part of the play and as her character unwinds towards the end of the play, her hair became messier and more in keeping with the personality and the role.
The hair gig with the famous Madonna was just one more rung in the ladder for the fast rising 33 year old celebrity hairdresser who had dreamed of working with celebrities as a hairstylist since he was 10 years old.
At age 16 years he decided to make a run for his dream and moved to London all by himself where he became a very hard working assistant at Vidal Sassoon. After much hard work Ben got his break when he met Michael Jackson's tour manager and was introduced to dancer Jaime King and invited back stage for Michael's London performance. By age 18 Ben already had a taste of the celebrity hairdressing life.
From that fateful meeting he was asked to work with En Vogue and found himself backstage doing hair for their concert. His celebrity hairdressing career took off at that point. By 1997 he was very much in demand and left Sassoon to work for RCA Records and MTV.
His celebrity client bookings swelled and he started working with Cat Deeley on a regular basis. He also worked with Ricky Martin, Alicia Keys, Geri Halliwell of the Spice Girls and Five. Ben has also coiffed the famous locks of Orlando Bloom and Hugh Jackman. Besides doing celebrity hair for performances and shows, he started working as a print/session stylist.
His breakthrough work was with Japanese Vogue. From there he worked on several International Vogue shoots including Korean Vogue.
In his cover work he has coiffed Linda Evangelista, Claudia Schiffer, Isabeli Fontana, Julia Stegner, Victoria Beckham, Sienna Miller, Jennifer Hudson, Kate Moss and Milla Jovovich.
In the celebrity hair trade its often whom you know that helps create job referrals. It turns out that Jaime King, that Ben met with Michael Jackson's tour manager because a favorite choreographer for Madonna and thus became the connection for Ben to work with the superstar.
When interviewed about his work with Madonna, Ben commented "she's great, really cool and very funny. When you work with stars, whoever they are, at the end of the day they are human and Madonna is very down to earth". He has also become good friends with Cat Deely.
Ben also said "for me the biggest compliment is when a star feels comfortable with me, and enjoys and likes what I do. Madonna goes on stage happy every night, and that's the greatest gift I can give to her."
In March of 2006 Ben was back behind the chair working his hair magic on the beautiful actress Keira Knightley who was up as best actress nominee for "Pride and Prejudice". Ben, who divides his time between London and New York had a clear vision of the best look he wanted Keira to telegraph to the billions of people watching the British beauty work the famous Hollywood Red Carpet.
Since Keira had never been to the Academy Awards, Ben wanted to make sure she made a fabulous first impression.
Because Keira was only 20 at the time, he wanted to keep her looking young and fresh rather than overdone or too glamorous. He feels that you should enhance the current version rather than go way over the top. In fact, he believes that the mistake many of the younger celebrities make is going too far too fast and looking like a drag queen, or worse.
Both Keira and Ben won kudos for the spectacular sassy ponytail she wore. Since Ben and Keira had worked together over a dozen times (he designed her popular pony at the Toronto Film Festival in September 2001) before the Academy Awards, the longtime celebrity hairdresser had a strong vision of her ideal image.
For celebrity hairdressers, preparing an actress for the Red Carpet at the Oscars is much like reaching for the brass ring. It promises much higher fees and if the hair turns out to win media kudos, it can permanently tie the celebrity to that hairdresser for a long time to come. There is also the potential for other rewards since as offers for the celebrity hairdresser to win lucrative contracts to hawk hair care or other beauty lines.
The Oscars is the ultimate global runway populated by hordes of live microphones and reporters. The evening can make or break the career of celebrity hairdressers, fashion designers, stylists or the stars themselves because of all the powerful opportunities.
And speaking of the fees? Oscar nominees and presenters around Los Angeles are attended to by an elite group of celebrity hair professionals, who travel from around the Globe, in some cases, or just as far away as London and Milan to fan out among hotel suites and private celebrity homes to blow dry, roll, brush and braid for fees of $3,500 to $7,500 for 20 minutes to an hour or so of hands-on work.
Some celebrity hairdressers might be part of the entire beauty team that co-ordinates everything from the gown and accessories to how the hair plays into the final presentation. Other celebrity hairdressers will simply polish their client's tresses and leave.
Why does it cost so much for a Oscars hairstyle? It's the ultimate commercial for all of the actors and actresses to show off their marketability for future films and related work.
His work graces magazine covers, runway and red carpets around the work.
2008 - The International Hairstyle for Head and Shoulders. A natural fit as the brand raises awareness of the key cosmetic benefits of their shampoos and conditioners.
Celebrity hairdressers are often written into film contracts. so studios include the fees in their budgets for promotion and advertising which would include potential Golden Globe And Oscar appearances for eligible actresses.
For those actresses walking the Red Carpet without a nominated film or studio behind them, things can get sticky.
For a Celebrity Hairdresser who wants to snag a future celebrity clients, they might work on the hair for free or a very tiny fee. Sometimes promises will be made in exchange for free hair services.
A savvy publicist may be able to recruit a studio to pick up the celebrity hairdresser's tab if the studio is trying to sign the celebrity.
Celebrity hairdressers understand that is it important to shy away from being provocative for a big awards event. If their hair client makes the "Worst Coiffed" or anything but "Best Coiffed" list it is a nail in their career and could hurt them from winning A Celebs in the future.
Sometimes hair gets a little more attention than makeup unless its a really strong, singular look. The hair and makeup should not be the first thing you ever notice.
If it is and distracts from who the actress is, it is often considered a failure. If Harry Winston pays you to wear a hair clip, you should but wearing something hanging off your head is not a good idea.
Mena Suvari at the 2000 Oscars was a styling nightmare in an Escada beaded dress looking like Nancy Regan instead of Marc Jacobs...young, cute, hip.
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