With a larger than life persona and celebrity clients such as Mandy Moore, Lupita Nyong’o and Angelina Jolie, Ted Gibson is New York’s most in-demand hairstylist. FAB met the visionary.
Son of America
Born in Texas in a military African-American family, Ted was raised between mainland USA, Japan, Germany and Hawaii. This richness becomes his greatest assets, imposing his frame and colorful personality early in the hairdressing industry. Thanks to mentors such as Horst Rechelbacher, founder of Aveda, and hair couture legend Eugene Souleiman, he learned the secrets of hairdressing and developed his vision. At 33, he styled many of the major Fashion Week shows worldwide, becoming a reference in the field, from magazine covers to television interviews and presentations. He opened his first salon on NYC’s 5th Avenue. Clients lined up for his ‘Big Sexy Hair’, which was inspired by his Texan upbringing and of his love for classic Hollywood glamour. He began working with a series of celebrities, beginning with Angelina Jolie, whose identity he helped define, Anne Hathaway, Debra Messing and Elettra Rossellini Wiedemann. “My career is pretty remarkable in the respect that I’ve been able to change people’s lives because I have this license and this voice,” explained the stylist, who also owns a salon at the W Hotel in Fort Lauderdale.
“The Hair Industry Has Changed”
Today Ted Gibson is at the helm of an empire, and at the beginning of a new journey. Thirteen years after opening, he just closed his eponymous 5th Avenue salon. Supported by Jason Backe, his partner in life and work for 22 years, he offers VIP consultations in a private studio and is revisiting his business plan. The social media guru heads a team of over 60 professionals, continues to develop his line of products, offers master classes and demos on his site and Instagram account, and maintains his celebrity following. “The industry has changed,” explained the stylist. “We need to change our model too. Before we used to create trends, clients were more faithful, and we were able to build a brand. Now, everything is on social media right away and clients know the new trends even before we do. I’m looking for a new muse, a new inspiration.”
“Women Are Complex Creatures”
When Gibson decided to become a hairstylist, the leading voices in the field, such as Vidal Sassoon, were white straight males; the sex symbols were blonde. Today, with the emergence of creative talent fighting for more diversity, the definition of beauty has finally shifted. “My platform has always been about textures of hair, not about the color of your skin,” he says. “Now when we think about beauty there are so many different references.” His secret: a true love for women. “Beauty is about the individual – cutting and styling hair is a way to make a woman feel differently every time I see her,” he continued. “Women are complex creatures. I know the woman is different each time I see her. I have to find out who she is and help her get there and see something that maybe she doesn’t. Hair is the most profound expression of a woman’s life.”
What will Gibson reveal this year? Surely, a new direction that will greatly impact the industry as a whole.