Whitney Van Osdol

Chrissy ON Aug 03, 2009 AT 9:22 am

Whitney Van Osdol

Whitney Van Osdol

By Chrissy Iley

From the very first time Whitney Van Osdol blow dried my hair I knew her hands were touched by the god of hair. Her eyes saw things that others didn’t. At the time she was an assistant at John Frieda LA, but from that first styling experience I knew that Whitney is a star of the future.

Let me define the experience more precisely. Whitney made my hair look beautiful, but in a way that it had never done before. She curled in a way that was more elegant and precise. She has a knowingness way beyond her years. And knowingness of hair and a love of it. She told me later, “I loved hair since I was three years old. I was always doing my doll’s hair. By the time I was five I could French pleat.”

Whitney's icon Marilyn Monroe

Whitney's icon Marilyn Monroe

At the time Whitney was still learning about hair, for which she had a huge appetite, grabbing inspiration from old Hollywood and John Frieda senior stylist Matthew Shields (does Jane Fonda’s hair), and Teddy Antolin, who creates the Raquel Welch wig range. But Whitney already had something that is beyond learning. Many many people over many many years have blow dried my hair, which is naturally thin, lifeless, limp. Falls out within ten minutes, a few hours or a day of leaving the salon.

Whitney’s style had staying power. The next day it became something else. Different, but still styled, still full and feminine.

Whitney perhaps learned by osmosis. When she was eleven her mother went back to barber school and Whitney helped later in the salon where her mother worked. “That crystallised everything for me. The more I was around hair the more I loved it. I left Chicago at 18 to go to Vidal Sassoon’s school in California where I learned a lot more. In the beginning I didn’t know if I wanted to do colour, cutting or styling. But I soon realised that I loved to cut and style. With colour I would get frustrated that I was never the one to complete the look. When you style you can transform and see your work.”

Try loose pin curls for instant Hollywood glamour

Try loose pin curls for instant Hollywood glamour

Before long John Frieda clients from salon to red carpet were seeing Whitney’s wonderful work. Whitney is a platinum blonde, blue eyed gorgeous girl who channels Marilyn. But Monroe is not the only silver screen goddess that inspired her work.

I just love old Hollywood. I love ‘done’ hair, hair that’s set, hair that’s elegant. I love a finger wave. I love pin curls. I like to adapt that style and make it more every day. But still it’s a version of something that is considered, glamorous. If it’s messy bed head hair it is just so because it’s meant to be, because it’s designed that way. My favourite thing is that I’ll do a cut or a blow dry and after you’ve slept on it it evolves into something else. It’s still something that it’s meant to be.”

All clients of course get a full consultation. “Mostly about their lifestyle. How much time they want to spend on their hair. And of course working out the best shape for face shape and proportions. You may want to do something simple, like check your parting is on the right side. Everyone has one eye that’s smaller, so you part your hair on the good side.”

Whitney has perfected the lasting blow out. “I use a minimum of hair products depending on hair type, but making sure it’s the right product for the texture of their hair. The John Frieda range of products is incredibly versatile and I love working with them.”

Click here to read part two of this interview.

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