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Last updated: February 11, 2019

Oribe Educators Remember Oribe Canales

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Oribe onstage at an Oribe Hair Care event at Umbrella Salon in 2009. Photo courtesy Umbrella Salon.

Remembering Oribe Canales

When the news of the passing of hairdressing icon and industry legend Oribe Canales broke the morning of Dec. 17, 2018, social media was awash with tributes.


“A pioneer of beautiful, cool, glamorous hair,” wrote acclaimed British hairdresser Errol Douglas. “He loved the messiness and the imperfection and saw how interesting that was,” wrote Jennifer Lopez, whom Oribe helped transform into the iconic “J.Lo” persona. Cindy Crawford remembered Oribe with “incredible talent, your charm and good looks and just enough bad boy to keep us all laughing.”


The remembrances posted by A-list celebrities, award-winning hairdressers and the women who made the word “supermodel” a thing in the ’90s is just a small glimpse of Oribe’s legacy on global beauty and fashion. A constant innovator, Oribe’s reputation for pushing boundaries helped him pivot through decades of a changing industry, always creating. Below, we’re looking back on Oribe Canales through the eyes of three Oribe Hair Care educators.


Oribe Canales with Kien Hoang (center), Christian Ceja-Compin (third from right), Dan Nguyen (far right) and other educators backstage at the Moschino Resort 2019 show in LA in June 2018. (Photo courtesy Dan Nguyen.)


Oribe’s Career

Oribe Canales is known for iconic runway looks and editorial collaborations, working with Garren in New York City before partnering with prolific fashion photographer Steven Meisel, with whom he helped build the idea of the supermodel. Cindy, Linda, and Naomi are some of the names he made household.


Oribe’s wig table during a shoot for Vogue. (Photo courtesy Kien Hoang.)


From the expensive, over-the-top glam of the ’80s and ’90s, Oribe moved into the millennium with Jennifer Lopez, who knew his work from magazines and requested him by name. Building her J.Lo persona helped rocket the singer to superstardom.


“He was like the king, you know?” says Oribe Director of Content and Training Kien Hoang (@kienhoang) and owner of Umbrella Salon in San Jose, Calif.  


Oribe onstage at an Oribe Hair Care event at Umbrella Salon in 2009. (Photo courtesy Umbrella Salon.)


Then in 2008, amid an economic downturn the country hadn’t seen in decades, Oribe launched Oribe Hair Care—a collection of high-end, high-performance products based in never-before-seen technology and luxury ingredients.


“We had just opened our salon right at the fall of the economy, and he was able to re-inspire us, re-spark us and gave us confidence heading into a new era of beauty,” Kien remembers about his first encounters with Oribe.


So Many Stories

There are countless stories of hairdressers meeting and working with Oribe, and hearing them paints a picture of a man brimming with generosity and a giving spirit.


Dan, right, with his business partner Linda Refosco, left, and Oribe at the first show Dan worked with Oribe, Armani Privé in 2009. (Photo courtesy Dan Nguyen.)


Take the story of Dan Nguyen (@dannguyeninsta), Oribe International Educator, editorial artist and founder and creative director of Lure Salon in Vancouver. Oribe Co-Founder Daniel Kaner saw Dan’s work in 2009 and shared it with Oribe, who personally asked Dan to work backstage at the Armani Privé show in Milan. After a few shows with Oribe, Dan received terrible news.


“I was diagnosed with leukemia shortly after—at this point, I only got to work with him four times,” Dan shares. “He was so kind and sweet. When I got sick, he reached out when I was in the hospital, over and over again. He knew how much I loved working backstage…He gave me so much hope.”


Then there’s Adam Livermore (@adam_livermore), Oribe International Educator and editorial artist based in New York. Oribe helped Adam get his start in NYC, from a salon job to educator opportunities, but Adam’s mind was really blown when he assisted Oribe on a Vanity Fair shoot. Oribe allowed Adam to set a model and brush out the set so Adam could put it in his portfolio.


“Unheard of!” says Adam about the opportunity. “I honestly can’t imagine any other hairstylist of his caliber in the universe who would do that for an assistant.”


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Above, a video of Oribe backstage at Moschino in 2018.


Learning Industry Lessons

With so many stylists under his wing, Oribe left many in the industry with takeways affecting how they work and interact in their own salons and backstage environments.


“What always blew me away the most about Oribe was that level of generosity,” shares Adam. “Most people, when they become successful, tend to protect their success and their connections because they’ve worked hard to get there and stay there. There’s almost this fear that you’re going to fall off and someone else will take your spot. Oribe was the opposite of that—he’s like, ‘Yeah, take my spot! It’s fine!’ He was so, so generous that way.”


“I think he allowed freedom,” Kien says. “He really would encourage us to look into the past…he allowed us to visualize and gave us freedom and encouraged us to reinvent. I take all of that and put it into my work and creative process.”


Oribe backstage in 2012. (Photo courtesy Oribe Hair Care.)


Fearless Education

Kien is crucial in developing Oribe Hair Care’s education platform, and it’s clear that Oribe’s influence is still strong. “[The brand is] really authentic, and it’s something we’ve learned with him through all of the backstage shows and in-salon presentations he’s given,” Kien says.


One lesson he’s taken from Oribe? “I learned not just to visualize, but to draw,” he says. “Look at the result first with these beautiful images, hand drawings, and then go back and create the foundation…all those techniques, all those ideas, we inherited in our Journey to Mastery program.” 


An illustration Oribe sent to Kien. “He loved to draw and illustrate his vision and concepts for us to study and create,” Kien shares. (Photo courtesy Kien Hoang.)


“His hands, how he attacked the hair and the products—he was fearless. Everything is possible,” shares Dan. “Dare to dream it. Rules are made to be broken. He was so strong technically—he was all about learn the rules, then break them. Practice, practice. Become a master. Go to the next level. When we’re on the road sharing knowledge, we want to get this message to our network, because that’s who he was.”


Adds Adam, “We innovate and look to the future all the time, while we also try to not lose sight of his aesthetic DNA. We try to remember that environment he created of everybody respecting everybody, and not being afraid…As an educator, I try to remember that spirit of generosity and freedom.”


Boundary-Pushing Products

With roots inspired by Oribe’s commitment to pushing boundaries, it’s no wonder Oribe Hair Care has created technologically advanced products with cult followings. The brand’s best-seller, Dry Texturizing Spray—a game-changer that just celebrated its 10th anniversary and is known through the industry as simply “Dry”—encapsulates Oribe’s aesthetic in a bottle.


“Dry is something that, at the time, revolutionized products in the industry because of how quickly and powerfully it gave the ability to build hair,” Kien says.


Oribe directing backstage at the Oribe Hair Care Backstage event, La Fama, in 2013. (Photo courtesy Adam Livermore.)


Adam recalls how the brand was in Vegas attempting to set a new Guinness World Record for the largest number of people doing hair at the same time. “We were in a big conference room in a hotel in Vegas, we had just launched Dry, and had 200 models all with blonde Barbie wigs. There was Oribe leading the charge, ‘Use Dry Spray and make it BIIIIIIIG,’ and his voice was starting to go out and he sounded insane, and all these stylists were just dousing these models with Dry, and it was this huge cloud, this thick fog of Dry. It was just a hilarious moment of glamour and excess and craziness, but beauty and creativity. That moment of, ‘We don’t know where this is going, it could be a disaster!’…and that’s Oribe. It gives you Oribe hair. Voluminous, soft, decadent.”


Oribe surrounded by models in Vegas. (Photo courtesy Oribe Hair Care.)


For Dan, there are two products that are the essence of Oribe: “Dry Texturizing Spray and Royal Blowout. Such a contradiction, and that’s who he is. He can make it big and sexy, or take it all away and it still looks beautiful. That to me is Oribe. Such a dichotomy.”


Oribe at La Fama, 2013. One of the looks was inspired by Oribe’s poodle, Brutus, pictured here. (Photo courtesy Adam Livermore.)


Lifelong Memories

When we lose someone we love, it’s natural—and healing—to consider the legacy he or she has left. For these Oribe educators, they are proud and happy to know the man who helped launch their careers, gave them life-changing opportunities and taught them so many lessons will continue to have a reverberating effect on the industry. Here are some of their favorite memories.


Oribe and Kien, 2009. (Photo courtesy Umbrella Salon.)


Kien: “He always encouraged growth and confidence. That’s what he’s given to all of us—to be imaginative and to constantly reinvent. For me, he’s very magical.”


Adam: “He had a way of making it seem like anything was possible. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone else who created that ambiance.”


Daniel: “Our love for each other and for the brand and our education is his legacy. We are, because of him.”


Oribe Hair Care is celebrating the man who left an indelible mark on the hair industry spanning decades and leaving lasting impressions. Adam says it best: “You can’t really be afraid of anything if you’re going to try to create something. That’s what this whole industry is about. Be fearless. Be absolutely fearless.”


Oribe in 2010. (Photo courtesy Oribe Hair Care.)