The first time I met Oscar Blandi more than a decade ago, I didn’t know he was sitting right next to me at dinner. I was quite familiar with celebrity hairstylists because of my hands-on editorial approach to magazine photo shoots. Earlier that week, I was speaking with the legendary (and Jennifer López fave) Oribé about Blandi, and Oribé was effusive about his peer. If you know anything about the couture coiffed set, these boys do not make it a habit of complimenting one another but Oribé was adamant: “Richard, Oscar Blandi is the real deal—he’s genius!” I was intrigued.
By the mid-1990s, Blandi, 45, was one of Manhattan’s hottest commodities and the hairdresser of choice for Hollywood powerhouses Drew Barrymore, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Garner, Faith Hill and, perhaps most important, a rising supernova on the pop cultural zeitgeist, Kelly Ripa. So, yeah, I felt like I knew a lot about Blandi before my invite for an intimate dinner for eight arrived and as fate would have it, I was seated next to the most charming, handsome, polite guy I’ve ever encountered in New York City—and he was the nicest person by far that night at SoHo hotspot Mercer Kitchen. It took seven minutes of conversation before I knew that Oscar Blandi and I would become friends. And we did.
Today, the Naples, Italy, native is a Manhattan force of nature. Blandi’s Madison Avenue salon is a beehive of perpetual well-heeled activity, his Oscar Blandi Product Collection has exploded off the shelves (Sephora, Ulta, QVC), and his numerous A-list celebrity clients are as devoted as ever. Yes, folks, right now is very much Oscar Blandi’s moment. And it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.
How old were you when you came to live in New York City? What were those first few weeks like?
I was 22. I remember thinking how strange everything was. Everything was so different—the language, the hectic pace. I had just landed from Naples, from a sheltered, slow-paced lifestyle. But I was determined to come to New York because I wanted to build my own legacy separate from my father’s. My father was very hard on me—he’s a very hard-core hairstylist—and I was young and impulsive, so I left.
What makes Oscar Blandi special?
I don’t think I’m special; I try to do something special for my client.
What’s the biggest mistake women make with their hair?
Two big ones: They over wash their hair—stop washing your hair, ladies; and they don’t treat their hair at bedtime. We have to treat hair the same as we treat our skin. Most women I know would never dream of going to sleep without washing their faces and applying moisturizer—I do that, too. But so few women brush their hair nightly and use a conditioning treatment, and they should.
For me, luxury is being able to purchase a great watch because I really want it, but the definition of luxury varies depending on who you ask.
Tell me about New Jersey.
I love New Jersey! We have a lot of clients from Jersey. Richard, you know I race motorcycles and I do that at the New Jersey Speedway.
How do you keep passionate about standing behind the chair?
You have to walk away once in a while. You have to miss it, that’s how you keep the passion alive.
In ten years you’re…
Still in the business, but I’ll be married with children living in Manhattan and Miami. That’s the life I want to have.