The stage was set and the lights were dim against the audience at the International Beauty Show in New York City. It was standing room only—one would think a concert was about to begin. The speakers were blasting the very best of the Queen of Divas, Diana Ross, as the jumbo screens gave us a closer look at the amazing styles that the famed Ted Gibson and his team were creating. Many of the world’s leading hairstylists and their apprentices were eagerly waiting in front of the main stage to hear and see the one and only Ted Gibson and his incredible team to appear. Ted Gibson is fondly known as the man with the golden shears. As a fan and follower of Mr. Gibson and his work, it was such a special moment for me to hear him speak and watch him totally transform a head of hair—flawlessly and effortlessly; I now understand why he is one of the industry’s highest paid celebrity hairstylist at $1200.00 a haircut (and oh, don’t forget to tip)!
While Ted Gibson owns two salons, one in New York and the other in Ft. Lauderdale, he also owns the Ted Gibson Advanced Academy where he instructs innovative hair cutting and coloring techniques. Of course, these two enterprises are merely the tip of Mr. Gibson’s empire, with the rest of his time being spent as Creative Director at Milady Standard Cosmetology the most commonly used resource book for cosmetologist. This new edition sets the stage for all that is new, innovative and creative from around the world. Each chapter in this new edition clearly places Ted Gibson at the forefront of the beauty and hair industry.
After reading and rereading Ted Gibson’s resume, I began to wonder if I was reading an A-list invitation to the Oscars, Emmys and Tony awards—seemingly the who’s who of all the ingénue’s and Hollywood royalty “Dolls & Guys” lined these delicate pages. Watching Ted Gibson is the ultimate experience. Before Ted even touches your hair with the scissors, his smile and energy captures you without saying one word.
After observing his day filled with teaching classes and stage performance, I had the ultimate pleasure of interviewing him. This incredible, gifted man is indeed inspirational and so very humble. I felt very comfortable in his presence, our interview was like two old friends having a delightful conversation; we discussed everything from the newest trends, colors, to the advanced and natural products. I was fascinated by his inspiration for the looks he created for the International Beauty Show, and the list of what’s hot what’s not, what’s staying and what should and would be retired.
Here’s what Ted had to say.
Kheli: What was your inspiration for this year’s show?
Ted: Well you know I like to push the buttons a little bit. I like to do something out of the box. Something unexpected. For me it’s always about sex. I want a woman to feel sexy. I want a woman to feel desired. I want her to feel like she is the most special person in the world. And that goes for if I’m working with Lupita or Angelina, to doing someone behind the chair at the salon, to working with models. I really want that to happen for them. It’s not just about doing hair. It’s about being able to have a movement, and helping people to understand their worth. It’s more than just cutting and coloring. That’s my vehicle and my message. But it is more than just that to me.
Kheli: What advice will you give to aspiring hairstylists that want to “breakout” in the industry but they lack confidence and maybe they’re setting boundaries for themselves? Or the younger Ted Gibson who is just starting.
Ted: The thing that most people don’t understand is that they go through life waiting for things to happen rather than making things happen. And what that means is that I’ve always been a person who thought that it didn’t matter if someone told me that I couldn’t do it. That made me want to do it even more. I’m an only child. I grew up in a military family. My dad was in the Army so we traveled all around the world. I was alone a lot so I really only relied on myself for certain things because my mom and dad both worked. I remember when I was about 14 years old and I said to my mom: Mom, I want this I want that and she said “Well if you want it you better work for it.” Even at an earlier age then that I had a job. So in order to get things that I wanted I couldn’t rely on anyone else to give them to me. I had to give them to myself.
Kheli: What looks and eras of beauty give you inspiration? What makes Ted say, I like that and I want women to feel that way. I want them to feel sophisticated. Wear a full head of hair like Diana Ross, or edgy like Madonna. But now it’s Lupita or Angelina Jolie.
Ted: It’s women that inspire me. They really inspire me. Whenever I have the opportunity to work with a woman it’s something about the essence that I want to bring out maybe she doesn’t even know that it’s there. That’s my gift. I think I do okay hair. (He’s being more than modest–he’s great.) But my gift is what I help to give them: When they are photographed and seen by millions and millions of people around the world in a matter of minutes; when they step out of the room and onto the red carpet that they feel like a million bucks; and that I’ve given them a piece of me which helps give them confidence. That can be from an A-list actress to a woman who lives in New Jersey to the woman that lives on the Upper East Side. Confidence goes to many different places. It also affects many different people like children, husband or wife. Her job, her health—everything. My hashtag is #hairchangeseverything. Because it’s the truth. You can take it to the next level.
Kheli: I really loved what you did with Lupita Nyong’o’s hair for the Oscars. You gave confidence to women of color—American, African and African descent who were afraid to wear their own natural hair texture to own who they are and say it’s beautiful to themselves that this is my depiction of beauty. And it gave brown girls like me our face in Hollywood. A beauty that I can identify with my own features. And she’s one of People’s magazine 100 Most Beautiful People. The most beautiful woman in the world! That’s so awesome. I want to thank you for creating that movement. Our daughters thank you as well.
Kheli: What do you prefer, long or short hair?
Ted: For me my tag line is #beautyisindividual. It’s always about the individual beauty. It doesn’t matter if she’s a size 2, 6, 12 or a 24 my job is to help her discover how beautiful she really is when she never even thought that she was.
Kheli: Let’s talk romantic looks. You were just married, congratulation! What style advice do you have for brides and grooms?
Ted: I’m getting away from really long beards. I think guys are going to start going back to clean shaven. For women what’s great about hair these days is that you don’t have to look to what your mom did to decide what your hair should be for your own wedding. You can define it yourself. It can be long, down and waved or create beach waves. It can be half up half down. It can be a French twist. It depends on how your dress is or where you’re getting married. Those factors dictate that.
Kheli: Is there a connection between love and hair.
Ted: Oh, it’s totally connected.
Kheli: How do you make the connection?
Ted: When a woman loves her hair everything is right in the world. I never heard a woman say “I’m having a bad skin day” but she will say “I’m having a bad hair day.” And when she’s having a bad hair day, she puts on a hat. She’s fighting with her children or she’s fighting with her husband. As soon as she’s had her hair done she’s a completely different woman.
As our wonderful chat was coming to an end, I asked what were his top 5 beauty staples for hair that every woman should have.
1. Hairspray, 2. Headband (jeweled or black), 3. Dry shampoo, 4. The best curling iron (medium size). You can create large waves or a set, and finally 5. But of course, you need TED GIBSON!
Kheli French is a contributing beauty editor for World Bride Magazine. Kheli is a licensed cosmetologist, colorist, master hair cutter, certified instructor and CFO co-owner of AMF HAIR EXTENSIONS. Kheli’s mantra is “What makes hair different is the texture. Hair works on memory, it can be trained to do whatever you want it to.”
Kheli has worked with a plethora of women and men all over the world, which is displayed on the cover of Iman’s The Beauty of Color. During NYC MBFW, Kheli stunned the audience when model Karolina Korkova hit the runway for designer Atil Kutoglu. Kheli gave the femme fatale rapper Charli Baltimore her signature red hair (Cherri Charli), which inspired the look for Jennifer Garner’s character for ABC’s thriller drama series “Alias.” This Philadelphia native is the owner/stylist of Le’ PINK Champu located in the swanky Manayunk.
In 2010, Kheli French won “Best of Philly” from Philadelphia Magazine:
When a Vera Wang model needs an updo, a Victoria’s Secret catwalker requires blowing-out, or Lil’ Kim, Anita Baker, Selita Ebanks or Lauryn Hill needs natural-looking extensions, a splash of color or an amazing cut, they come to Kheli (or Kheli goes to them). No wonder: From her salon’s two-year-old Manayunk location, she modestly works magic on any kind of hair for clients that walk through the door. That is, when she’s back from Fashion Week. Read more at Phillymag.com here.