Meet the L.A. and N.Y. beauty pros whom power players — including Donna Langley and Bonnie Hammer — rely on for flawless red carpet foundations.
An executive's vast knowledge of production or media doesn’t necessarily go hand in hand with a keen eye for what's flattering on and around the face, and the attention-garnering hair and makeup looks that might suit talent often aren't appropriate for entertainment industry professionals. Thankfully, help is only a call, text or DM away from esthetic pros in Los Angeles and New York who possess the taste and vision to help keep up appearances for dynamic women in demanding careers.
Ås Nicole Mangrum, Oprah Winfrey's hairstylist, says, she likes to “add a little edge” and push clients “out of their comfort zones whenever I can.” Oprah is all thumbs-up on Mangrum's efforts, telling The Hollywood Reporter that she has become "obsessed" with a certain introduced style (read on to find out which one). Here, the top glam gurus who help the leading female industry decision-makers look the part in the office and out on the town.
Clients: producers Jean Doumanian and Cindy Cowan
Cowan, who has two Sony films about to start production, relies heavily on Adi Aloni of Simadi Salon. "I make excuses to go to New York just so I can get a haircut from him,'' says Cowan of the stylist. “He has a way of cutting it that brings out the glamour, so even when I wake up it looks sexy. For Keegan-Michael Key's wedding, he gave me this amazing style that was half up, half down with waves, and he added a few blond streaks; it looked very beachy and romantic.'' Adds Doumanian, "He takes a look I've had and improvises it to keep me contemporary as time marches on. I am now wearing my hair just above my shoulder — he spotted the trend early on. Most successful women want a style that allows them to be taken seriously; we can’t be as dramatic as performers. If colleagues saw me look like Lady Gaga, they would think I lost my mind, and my credentials."
Clients: NBCUniversal Cable chair Bonnie Hammer, actress-writer Brit Marling, Cosmos Studios CEO Ann Druyan, writer Celeste Barber
Working out of West Hollywood's Mare Salon, Albin has seen a shift among her industry execs toward "more effortless and natural" hair, something she attributes to women’s empowerment. "These powerhouse women are getting their beachy, textured, effortless styles while running the world." Gone are the “old-school business-executive looks. No one I work with wants hair that doesn’t move and doesn’t represent their own personal style and taste," says Albin. Cosmos Studios' Druyan notes that when she's "going to an important meeting, I want that extra confidence that comes from feeling I look my best. Marilee is known for quick, efficient blowdries and availability to work in or out of the salon." Druyan adds, “Her warmth and wide-ranging interests always make for a great conversation, too.” Albin has been working with Hollywood execs for about seven years. "Being a certain age doesn’t mean you have to have a certain length or look," she says. "You can still be you and feel and look like you without having helmet hair.”
Clients: 20th Century Fox vice chair Emma Watts, WME's Nancy Josephson and Michelle Bohan, ICM Partners agent Joanne Wiles, Management 360’s Evelyn O’Neill and Nicole King, producer Desiree Gruber
During her three decades of hair coloring, Cunningham has loved witnessing young clients "grow within the industry and presto, one day she's a studio head or hotshot agent." The co-owner of Beverly Hills' Mèche Salon says, "My executive ladies are very loyal. My hours are insane like theirs, so we both work on our schedules to make it happen." Bohan, a client of 10 years, praises her work ethic and adds, "Tracey has the rare combination of being incredibly successful and supremely humble and down to earth." Cunningham’s ethos of eschewing trends appeals to her impressive roster: “I stick to beautiful, natural-looking colors and my clients appreciate and need that; not high-maintenance color because of their schedules. My ladies love their hair to look healthy and natural and of course on point whether they're brunettes, redheads or blondes.”
Clients: Universal Filmed Entertainment Group chair Donna Langley, director Marielle Heller, co-founder of Friends at Work Ty Stiklorius
Gan credits her in-demand status to a "calm personality and ability to read the room." Adds Stiklorius: "She’s an awesome conversationalist that makes time pass quickly while she makes you look like the most glamorous version of yourself, nothing heavy or overdone." Gans says it's important that she “stay up to date with trends in Hollywood and keep a revolving door of new and exciting products that are on the market." A radiant complexion is Gan’s signature: “Everyone wants to be glowy,” says the pro, who adds that clients are experimenting with a few more pops of color, including a blue-green Chanel shadow Langley recently sampled and loved. Aqua shadow or not, the end goal is always the same: “They need to look strong and like themselves."
Clients: Nancy Meyers, Barbara Walters, Tribeca Enterprises CEO Jane Rosenthal
Sally Hershberger’s discreet, cozy brownstone has become a gathering spot for the entertainment crowd. Alongside Reese Witherspoon, Candice Bergen, Meg Ryan, Kevin Kline, Kate Hudson and Gretchen Mol, executives receive keratin treatments and are styled in one of her NYC salons. "Giving hair a treatment that makes drying it faster and easier is always a plus for high-powered women,'' Hershberger explains. Her lead colorist, Sharon Dorram, has taken care of Rosenthal for 15 years. “Jane always gets a base color and a few natural highlights. To stand out, I give her one bigger highlight she refers to as her "disco stripe,'' says Dorram. “The majority of executives like [Evenstar Films'] Elizabeth Cuthrell want to keep their hair natural, and I like it to be piecy, like children’s hair — lighter around the face and at the ends, which softens features."
Client: Former HBO vp Janet Schwartz
Though layers are of-the-moment, in the wrong hands they can be disastrous says the stylist, who works out of one of NYC's Riccardo Maggiore salons. "Layers add a natural tousle and volume, but a lot of people layer toward the bottom, and that can make hair very stringy,'' she says. "I layer toward the top to give more height and fullness.'' Schwartz, who recently headed promotion, planning and scheduling for HBO, says Liberatore gives her hair a boost for big occasions: “She gave me a classic bob with highlights, and when I attended the Emmys I wanted to look special walking in, so she hit my classic bob with a glaze that reflected the light and made it extremely shiny."
Clients: Warner Bros. chair Ann Sarnoff, ex-Nickelodeon president Cyma Zarghami
Says NYC-based Labrecque about executive hair: "They don't want to look done, or like every hair is in place, so I keep them looking 'polished messy' and youthful with textured layers and a little side sweep.'' Labrecque, who has worked with Renee Zellweger for years, observes, "Actresses like to change their look, but executives prefer consistency; they want to look like their headshots. Last year, hair was longer, but this year the trend is just to the collarbone."
Labrecque commands a certain authority: He "doesn’t know how powerful he is; people will do whatever he says, and he is one of the best colorists ever,’’ says Zarghami, who was president of Nickelodeon for 15 years and is launching her own production company. “I’ve said, ‘I think I should go darker,’ and he just gives me a look and says, ‘I don’t.’ When I was inducted into the Broadcasting Hall of Fame, I put on a phony pony that he gave me and thought I looked fabulous!" Zarghami adds that the hairstylist is "very modest. I was recently in his Palm Beach salon and saw him working on Martha Stewart, and he’s never even mentioned she was a client."
Clients: Oprah Winfrey, Gayle King, Michelle Obama, Ariel Investments co-CEO Mellody Hobson, Valerie Jarrett
Though Mangrum acknowledges hairstyles are “never about me,” the Chicago native likes to "add a little edge" and push clients "out of their comfort zones whenever I can." Winfrey, who's been with Mangrum for four years, tells THR: "She introduced me to the high pony, and when I became obsessed with it, she was direct in telling me, 'You have to give it up for a while' for the health of the hair." Instead, Winfrey says she's "going natural." The stylist says that’s an industry-wide trend: “Women are starting to own their natural hair textures again and are wearing hairstyles like natural blowouts, afros, braids and twists, whereas in the past, straighter and more corporate-inspired hairstyles were considered most appropriate. I see an overall shift in our society where individualism seems to be trending over mainstream beauty standards. People are choosing to live more authentic, natural and healthy lifestyles.”
Clients: Producer Mara Brock Akil, showrunner Courtney A. Kemp, Viola Davis, Kerry Washington, director Sanaa Hamri, Laila Ali
"Kerry Washington once told me, 'I hire you because of your talent, but also I can trust you — you're around my family and my kids,' " says Moultrie, known for her ability "to transform the structure of your face, illuminate the skin and camouflage exhaustion," says client Kemp. “If I’m in L.A. and she’s not available, I do my makeup myself.” Moultrie does what she dubs appropriate beauty: Clients "know that I'm going to make them look appropriate for whatever event they're attending," which means forgoing trends and OTT looks: “A strong lash, for example — pretty as it is — it doesn’t communicate 'executive.'"
Client: Producer Toni Bullock
For freelance producer Bullock, who works for OWN and Netflix, the hair on her brow is more of a priority than the hair on her head, so she makes regular visits to Umbreen Sheikh at Wink Brow Bar, who also offers lash extensions. "A good brow makes your eyes look open and younger after 12-hour days. Umbreen keeps them full and tints them. I use a concealer to highlight the brow bone, which is a trick I learned from makeup artists on set. All I have to do is throw on a little blush and lip gloss,'' says Bullock. She explains that people on set have become more appearance-conscious in recent years: "When I started, if we looked too trendy, they would joke we were trying to look like the talent, but just because we work behind the scenes doesn't mean we don't want to look stylish."
Clients: Zoe Saldana, Carey Mulligan“Hair is a bit shorter this year in general,’’ explains Eisaburo “Ishi" Ishikawa, who closed his own salon this summer and now works within Riccardo Maggiore in midtown. “I have given some executives a bob, where I give actresses more layers because they need to be versatile and able to wear their hair in different styles." Ishikaya is famed for artistic cuts and sleek blowouts done with a $500 Lumielina drier that locks moisture in. Aside from his thespian clients, he also cares for the tresses of many Lincoln Center executives and performers, including Mick Jagger’s girlfriend Melanie Hamrick. “Ballerinas don’t let you cut their hair at all," he sighs.
A version of this story first appeared in the Oct. 9 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.