January marks the beginning of awards season, our favorite time to shift attention to the hairstyles gracing the red carpets. In honor of the upcoming Golden Globes Awards, we caught up with celebrity hairstylist Gregory Russell, the man making chic manes for Lily Collins, Chloé Mortez, and Nicole Richie (to name a few). Keep reading to find out Gregory’s first red carpet client, his day-of rituals, and the accessories he always packs for a smooth awards season.
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Who was your first red carpet client ever?
My first red carpet client was Chloé Moretz and I styled her for her 500 Days of Summer red carpet. She was 12 I think and came into the salon I worked at for me to style her hair, changed there, and went to the carpet! Things have really changed for us now!
What’s the fastest amount of time you’ve had to prep a client for the red carpet?
Usually we are given between 1.5 hours to 3 depending on the importance and the complexity of the style. With that said, I think I had to do Chloe in 30 minutes a couple times when we’ve had a press day running late and then we have to do a full change! Luckily we’ve been working together so long I know her hair like the back of my hands.
What do the few days leading up to a major red carpet event look like for you?
Usually I will put together some references and have a creative conversation with my client and the rest of the beauty and styling team. We usually receive images from their fitting of what they wear and I take inspiration from the clothing and what style speaks to me.
Do you have a hair test with your client ahead of time?
I have done that and it’s so useful but usually I don’t. For really complex styles and on days that are high pressure, like the Met Gala, we have multiple bookings sometimes and if our client has the time it really helps to make the day smoother. I had a very complex style on Lily Collins this year for the Met and we did a run through that proved to be the biggest help. It made the day seamless. Or sometimes I do the test on one of my girlfriends.
How do you and your client decide on the hairstyle?
I’m always inspired by the clothing. So when I see the look I’m like, how can I add to this or balance this look. I’m generally inspired by past eras. So if an outfit looks ’70s to me I will try to pull references of the style icons of that time and some modern interpretations of them as well. I will send them to my client and we have a conversation about them and decide what speaks the most to both of us.
What personal day-of rituals do you have for preparing yourself for a major red carpet styling?
If I can, I love to get a workout in. I love what I do, but sometimes I can get anxiety about it! It really helps to center and ground me. I will also go through my images and try to have a game plan as far as products, tools, etc.
Is there a specific beverage or food you always eat on the day of a major red carpet event?
Well I love a breakfast tea latte with almond milk and no sweetener. It’s my go-to for energy and focus without getting too shaky.
Do you have an assistant who assists you the day of?
I have the best assistant, Brian Cowell. He and I have been working together for almost two years and he knows what I need without me having to tell him at this point. He also is very stylish and a great sounding board for my ideas. I’m very grateful to collaborate with him.
What kind of accessories do you pack in your kit for a major red carpet event?
I’m very fortunate that I have brands like Lelet, Jennifer Behr, and Jen Atkin sending me products to keep my kit full of inspiring pieces. Sometimes they are custom which is also really fun for me to be part of the design process.
What’s one fact about your red carpet styling process that people would be surprised to learn?
I’ve always had a passion for creating individual looks on people. It’s important to me that my client feels beautiful and looks special. I spend a lot of time looking at older references of style, like music videos and fashion shows from the past which I archive in folders for my clients that I work with regularly. It’s fun to use these references that excite me and give me motivation to create a look that says something. So grateful to all my girls for being adventurous and inspiring muses.