Beauty. Fashion. Hair. Repeat.
Joseph DiMaggio — a distant relative of the late, great New York Yankees outfielder — absorbs fashion like you and I breathe air.
So much so that the heavy rock drummer-turned-top-notch-stylist left music to pursue his passion: hair.
This 31-year-old New York stylist gets excited when discussing new trends in the beauty world. That happened last week when we landed a phone interview with the runway stylist, who was in Omaha Sunday to teach Gloss Salon and Day Spa stylists new cutting and styling methods.
The key to his hair-cutting world is continuous education — educating others and learning more about his passion. This eventually brought him to L'Orťal Professionnel as a Portfolio Artist and as their Master Session Artist.
Now, he travels teaching others new cutting and styling methods and “rocks out” editorial fashion shoots around the globe.
He continues to work behind the scenes at Fashion Week and most recently led the runway show of designer Jen Kao.
Read what he had to say on the jump.
Q. You're a drummer. How'd you get tangled up in hair?
A. I was playing on a heavy, hardcore band, so I wore my hair crazy. I kept getting it cut but wasn't getting the look I wanted. So I went home and did it myself — cut and color. It took three hours. All the other dudes in my band — and eventually other touring bands — asked me to do theirs. Pretty soon, I had fans asking after our concerts if I'd cut their hair.
Q. I read somewhere that they'd stand in line for one of your signature cuts.
A. I loved cutting. I never charged. I didn't have any training. I was just sculpting with scissors.
Q. When did you make the transition from music to hair school?
A. It wasn't much longer. I didn't want to be in a band with seven dudes anymore. I moved from California back home to New York and researched the best hair school for me. I then enrolled at the Aveda Institute.
Q. You have a natural talent — dexterity, the ability to use your hands and fingers well — that not many people, even stylists who've been in the profession for years, possess.
A. It came really easy to me. Being a drummer, I'm great working with my hands and fingers. I had already been working with people for years, so I didn't have that awkwardness you get when cutting a person's hair for the first time. By the end of my class, I was showing people techniques because I was better at doing them than my instructor.
Q. You broke out onto the New York fashion scene rather quickly. Who was your mentor?
A. Odile Gilbert, a French stylist and goddess in hair who has been around forever. She's the reason runway stylists treat hair like art. She also was the stylist responsible for all of the hair seen in the 2006 film “Marie Antoinette.” I worked as one of her main leads in her team for a few years.
Q. How has that experience helped you find your personal style?
A. I'm not a three-piece suit guy, although I could wear one rather nicely. Most days, I wear drop-crotch pants — before they became trendy — scarves, loose, flowy clothes that drape. I'm inspired by Asian culture. If I had to describe my style, I'd say urban-samurai-monk.
Q. Give us the juicy details on hair trends.
A. The hair chalk movement is pretty big. It's semi-permanent coloring that doesn't wash out with one shampoo. It looks like sidewalk chalk, but it's made for your hair. You'll notice that natural, loose waves are in. Styles that don't have a lot of volume. All things easy for the consumer to do. Messy buns are in, but I prefer to call it “lived-in” hair. It looks as though you've slept on it or lived in your hair.
Q. Thoughts on New York Fashion Week?
A. How much time do you have? (He laughs.) It's becoming very commercialized and ruining what Fashion Week used to be. ... So great. So exclusive. Back in the day, a designer and stylist would work together throughout the year planning, building rapport and building trust on their coordinated looks. Then, you'd get a product sponsor. It was simple. Nowadays, designers are capitalizing on Fashion Week by charging stylists ridiculous prices ($60,000 on upwards) for sponsorship, and with social media and all of the bloggers, everything gets out there immediately. It's a lot harder to predict true trends.
Q. So quality stylists and beauty brands are backing out of Fashion Week?
A. L'Orťal pulled out last year. That money could be used better elsewhere. What ends up happening is all these mass market brands like Conair and TRESemmť step up, pay for it, bring in their own people, and the level of work goes down significantly. Hair styles and trends are simple and dumbed down. The hairstylists who are creating these ... let's just say they can cut hair, they can't dress hair.
Q. What are we missing out on?
A. We're not seeing fun, great hair. The intricate designs through the use of braiding and overlaying.
Q. So how are you getting your runway fix?
A. Underground fashion shows. I do it because I love the shows. Love the fashion. Love the pressure.
Q. Lately, you've been traveling and educating stylists about technique.
A. Yes, I'm teaching folks to bring hair dressing back to the basics: foundation techniques and cutting. You never really stop learning how to style. You have to understand why you're cutting or styling a certain way and then make it your own. I could teach a monkey how to do hair, but he'll never understand why. My philosophy in life is that I do everything with intent.