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Odile Gilbert for i-D Magazine
Fashion magazine i-D interviewed Hair Stylist Odile Gilbert about her career, her inspirations and who she admires in the industry! Read i-D's biography of Odile on their site, and read the full interview below!
On beauty school… I spent three years at school. After that you have to do an exam — on a real person, creating certain styles, colors, and cuts using their real hair. Thankfully, I passed. I was still living in Brittany then, so I moved to Paris, where I met the great hair stylist Bruno Pittini — and he hired me. He was working in a salon but also on shoots, with actresses and models. We worked with Helmut Newton. I was 19 and I had no idea.
On the industry… The biggest change I've seen over the years has been the Internet. Now you have information everywhere. And there are so many shows, and so many more designers. Fashion has become much more international. It's a real industry. Back when I started out, there weren't so many magazines either, which meant every country was quite separate. I moved to New York in the 80s because I realized I needed to speak English and experience America. I stayed for 11 years and shared an apartment with Francois Nars.
On her success… I'm a girl and there are no girls who are as successful in the hair business. I don't know why that is. But I do know that you have to have a lot of energy to succeed. And because there weren't many other hair stylists at all back then, I looked to the magazines, designers, and photographers. I love photography; I collect myself. If I see a real print, I want it. Steven Meisel, Peter Lindberg, and also newer photographers like Alasdair McLellan. And in America I love Bruce Weber.
On working with the greats… Each time you meet the big photographers — Avedon, Penn, Meisel — it's still exciting. And every time you think, 'Am I going to be good enough?' Because they're always impressive. Every photographer uses different light and has a different personality, so you have to adapt. And there's no school for that. One of my favorite moments on set was with Irving Penn. I asked him to sign his book A Moment Preserved and he said to me, "Now, you must have a lot of moments preserved in your life!" It was really cute.
On trends… I love to experiment! Of course I'm well known for certain looks, but I think working in the fashion industry you have to be able to do whatever they [the photographer or designer] wants. For years the look will be natural, natural, natural, then it will go back to crazy. At the moment it's quite natural, but there is always one moment when it switches. And I'm sure Jeremy Scott will always be crazy! It's fun, no?
On experience… In this industry it takes a while to become successful. You need years! Even the well-known photographers have spent decades getting to where they are now. There are a lot of talented people in fashion, but what is important is experience. What you learn in school is not enough. You have to do things step by step.
Odile Gilbert is part of Exposure NY's styling division. Exposure NY is photography agency / stylist agency in New York City.