Interview Of The Week with Marc Orsatelli: Born to be a hair stylist

Marc Orsatelli was born in Corte, in a small university town right in the center of the island of Corsica. He left his hometown for Paris in 1988 to become a hairdresser. More than three decades later he is a celebrity hairstylist working with the greatest people in the fashion world.

Why hairdressing?

Hairdressing has been my passion since childhood. I was doing my sister’s and my girlfriends’ hair, even their dolls’ hair as I couldn’t have dolls myself! One of my aunts lived in Africa. She was pretty eccentric and always had amazing hairstyles – that made me dream. It was pretty obvious that one day I would study hairdressing.

How does a hairdressing student become a celebrity hairdresser? 

In my first year in Paris I assisted one of my friends on a fashion show. I was only supposed to be assisting but I got lucky because I was asked to create two hairstyles designed by the head hair designer (chef de cabine) of the show. That was my first experience as a “studio hairdresser”!

From there my career grew. After that first fashion show I was sure to be available to work after school hours. I tried to work on as many fashion shows and catalogue photoshoots as possible.

I was lucky to meet and assist Danilo who was the hairdresser for Thierry Mugler’s shows. He has been my greatest coup de coeur. With Danilo magic always happened and I discovered a new world of creativity. The moment I started working with him I understood that hairdressing is not only my job but my path in life. Working with him was a stepping stone in my career.

Then I met my manager, Aurélien. Together we have done a lot of advertising campaigns, fashion catalogues and photoshoots for magazines. Besides being creative, my job is about getting to know the right people at the right time. I must say I have been very lucky on that count.

I worked with Odile Gilbert (has been described as France’s most celebrated female hairstylist – Tibloom note), Julien D’ys and Orlando Pita on fashion week for several years. I’ve always liked them and admired their work. Being part of their team has been a great honor and given me the chance to work on some of the greatest fashion shows – such as Yves Saint Laurent, Chanel, Dior, Gucci, Tom Ford and Jean Paul Gaultier.

I also had the great luck and honor to work with Karl Lagerfeld for many years, and with John Galliano. John’s fashion shows are always magical. Being part of his personal glam team makes me particularly happy. He is a true genius and it is a gift to listen to him and talk about his vision for the Margiela shows just before they start. (John Galiano is currently the creative director of the Paris-based fashion house Maison Margiela – Tibloom note).

I also worked with Christophe Kutner the photographer, who gave me a lot of advice and helped me develop an eye for photography. He passed away in 2016 but I still remember his words and heed his lessons.

Last but not least I had the opportunity to be involved in creating books such as Dior by Demarchelier, William Klein for Vogue Hommes and Ali Mahdavi et Alexi Malka for the latest book about Thierry Mugler. A collaboration with Dita Von Teese is in the works. She still inspires me!

When you work with such great artists how much room do you have for your own creative vision?

For fashion shows and magazine photoshoots the team always works the same way: we are given a brief that obviously we have to respect. Being part of the creative force means being at the service of this image. Then I use my know-how and my personal touch to create the hairstyle. I do think this balance is crucial for a successful, cohesive presentation.

Apart from the designers’ and creative directors’ vision where do you get your inspiration from?

1920s to 1950s hairstyles are my real passion and source of inspiration. Monsieur Antoine, a Polish man, was a genius of French hairdressing in the 1930s. He fascinates me with his great ingenuity and sublime creations. (Antoni Cierplikowki was the word’s first celebrity hairdresser when he opened the salon Antoine de Paris in Paris and became known as Monsieur Antoine – Tibloom note).

Monsieur Alexandre and his buns are a great inspiration for couture. (Alexandre Paris was a famous French hairdresser who was responsible for creating Elizabeth Taylor’s coiffure in the Hollywood epic Cleopatra. He also styled stars like Greta Garbo and Audrey Hepburn – Tibloom note).

Actresses such as Rita Hayworth, Catherine Deneuve, Monica Vitti, Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly and Brigitte Bardot have also had an influence on me.

Do you have a specialty?

Not really though I have always loved working with artists such as @dj.solange (click here to read about Olympia here) and @lola_ dragonessvonflame – characters of Parisian nightlife. I make wigs for them. I’ve also loved working with performers like @missfame and @violetchachki with whom we did some photoshoots in Paris. I also often made wigs for Marc Zaffuto and Emmanuel d’Orazio who are the creators of the famous Club Sandwich parties and the Manko Cabaret.

I feel very comfortable working with any style but personally I prefer structured hairstyles that rely on technique. They are so sophisticated.

What is the best and worst part of your job?

Thanks to my job I have had the opportunity to travel around the world and meet amazing women and men from so many different places and cultures. The most difficult thing is carrying a 40 pound suitcase full of equipment to work every day!

The fashion scene has changed a lot. Fashion is now accessible to everyone and social media gives many talented people an opportunity to market themselves. What advice would you give to someone who wants to break into the fashion world as a hairstylist?

Sadly, these days fewer risks are taken and budgets have decreased in the creative fashion world. Regardless of these changes, if you want to achieve something in the fashion industry you have to be patient. Don’t count the time you spend at work. Work, work, work… just enjoy and love the process of mastering the techniques.

What are your plans for the future?

I hope to keep meeting amazing people and working with teams of super creative stylists and producers like those who brought me to my last shoots; great projects such as Cartier by @cedricklapich, Chloe Nomade by @ryanmacginley, Armani with @sarasampaio and @barbarapalvin and my latest shoot for Bulgari with Johan Renck (Swedish director – Tibloom note), Naomi Scott, Lily Aldridge (model, Victoria’s Secrets Angel 2010-2018 – Tibloom note) and Zendaya.

marc o inside pic.jpg

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