As a hairdresser, it’s an honor to be entrusted with someone’s personal style — especially when it’s for a special event. For the past 11 years, I’ve had the privilege of working the Kennedy Center Honors as the key hairdresser for the Washington area, and I am so grateful to Progressions for supporting me over the past 31 years, helping me live this part of my dream. Over the years, I’ve worked on celebrities from Broadway to L.A., but this week I got to help someone extra special — the fabulous Aretha Franklin.
(Watch her incredible performance from the night here — which I promise is worth watching all the way through!)
Now to be upfront and honest here — spoiler alert — I did not do her hair, and I did not do her makeup! But my brush with The Queen of Soul left me feeling just as accomplished and impactful on her special night. Here’s the story. I was in charge of hair and makeup for one of the talented Broadway performers in the show’s Carole King segment. She went onstage, flawless, and my job was done. But as I’ve preached to many up-and-coming backstage stylists who have gone with me to events like this over the years — NEVER, EVER LEAVE YOUR STATION. Some listen, some don’t — but my mantra is, “Mind your business, not the show’s business.”
And here’s why. As I was minding my business and my station, Ms. Franklin came through with her stylist, Carlisle, looking for someone who could help with a makeup touch-up. Sometimes helping is just about connecting people, and I found the appropriate makeup artist for her. As we were talking, I noticed her stunning, Escada gown was sagging — no, FALLING — from her body. We were on the brink of a fashion crisis.
“Ms. Franklin,” I told her. “I know you’re going onstage to sing ‘Natural Woman.’ But we are NOT going to let you go out there LOOKING LIKE a Natural Woman!“
I found her a seamstress, who made the alterations in the nick of time, and her moment in style history was made.
Sometimes being a stylist is simply about helping where you can, lending a hand (or a careful eye) for the good of the show.
But you’ll only get the chance if you’re there — really there — and ready to help.
By Barbara Roybal, Progressions Stylist since 1984