One look at the mission statement of Studio DNA Salon and it’s obvious that celebrity stylist Aubrey Loots is all about making every client, famous or otherwise, feel like they deserve a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. I was lucky enough to catch up with Aubrey this past September to talk his personal hair philosophy, his position as head stylist at ABC’s The Taste and some great tips for achieving red carpet worthy hair. Read on for the interview and to find out which celebrity he would love to give a hair makeover…
The Daily Quirk: What inspired you to become a stylist?
Aubrey Loots: I think creativity. I’m from South Africa originally and I was a year away from finishing high school and just hated it. I wanted to do something creative. I went to a trade college, and I saw hair dressing and I was like ‘That looks like fun.’ There was a three year apprenticeship program and I actually finished in two years- depending on performance you could finish earlier, which I did. I was working in a salon and going to school at the same time and I just fell in love with it. I kind of found that thing at an early age.
TDQ: And what made you want to come to the US?
AL: Fame and fortune [laughing]. I always tell people I dreamt my way to the states. From a very young age, I kind of had the sense I was born in the wrong country and always dreamt all through school about living in the states, especially LA. We didn’t get television in South Africa until 1976, and from that moment on I was so enamored with film and television and fashion and all of that stuff. I think that subliminally led me into hairdressing and then here.
TDQ: How would you describe the aesthetic of your salons?
AL: The aesthetic of the salon is high-end, airy and spacious. They’re great creative spaces. We call them Studio DNA Salons. My husband and I designed them together. He runs the business and I’m the creative. They’re a great place to come and hang out. I like to say, ‘We’re high-end without all the BS.’ We don’t have any of that going on. We’ve become kind of known for that. It’s a really comfortable place and we’ve created this culture where it’s all about the client’s experience.
TDQ: And how about your personal philosophy as a stylist?
AL: Helping people find the style that works for them. It’s like the mission statement on our site, which my husband and I created before we even opened our doors, Studio DNA is a full service salon and retail where every service and every product is intended to uplift and inspire you to your own personal greatness. And that’s what we do. It’s not just the doing of the hair. It’s also having a relationship with the client. I’ve been doing this for twenty-six years and I love what I do. Having that connection with someone sitting in your chair that feels so special in that moment, creating a style, creating a look, creating a color for them, I think that’s what we are about as a company and me personally as a stylist.
TDQ: How did you first become involved with styling for events and celebrities?
AL: It was really all word of mouth. Being in Los Angeles, I have a lot of clients that are producers or directors or behind-the-scenes people. They ask you, ‘Hey, can you come help out for this thing?’ And one thing leads to another. Same thing with runway. I do a lot of runway in Los Angeles and New York and I do some work in Paris. Your work has to speak for itself and from that you get more work.
I would say the first big celebrity that I got was Julia Louis-Dreyfus and she’s connected to Lauren Bowles. who’s a client of mine. I do a lot of her red carpet and I see you have interviewed her too. Styling for Lauren and Julia certainly opened some doors. I did a photo shoot with Jane Leeves from Hot in Cleveland a few years ago. I think that was the first big celebrity photo shoot I did and that was kind of like, ‘Oh, ok. I can see the direction my career is going.’ And a lot has happened since then. I would say definitely Lauren and her husband Patrick [Fischler], who’s also an actor, I’ve known them both for many, many years, they definitely contributed to doors being opened. And I’ve been doing Vonda Shepard’s hair for many, many years. I haven’t been asked this question in a long time and now that I think about it my very first real celebrity back in the day would be Vonda Shepard.
TDQ: You’ve done everything from styling for the red carpet, to the runway, to photo-shoots and television. Do you prefer any one over the others?
AL: Where I really thrive and feel alive is when I’m doing editorial shoots, red carpet events and runway. I’ve been in the salon for 25 years and I have great clients in Los Angeles, and I love my clients. But creatively, where I thrive is definitely when I do work for red carpet, runway and editorial. In fact, I just came back from New York. I just did my first big, big editorial for ELLE Magazine. I did the shoot for the December issue coming out and also for March 2014. And it was just a phenomenal experience. It was my first real, big magazine. So, yeah, red carpet, runway, and editorial for me. It’s a creative outlet.
TDQ: You’ve also been busy as Head Hair Stylist for The Taste. How did that come about?
AL: Such a fun show! One of my best friends is Melanie Mills. And Melanie Mills is a big celebrity makeup artist. She ran [the makeup department for] Dancing with the Stars for many, many years. She got a call last season to do The Taste. I’ve never ran a show department and she threw my name out if they were interested. They called me into a meeting and I got hired on the spot. Again, a word of mouth kind of thing. I did last season. It was great. ABC is bringing it back for another season. We’re just started shooting yesterday [at the time of the interview], in fact. So that’s how that happened.
TDQ: Out of the four judges, whose hair were you most excited to get your hands on?
AL: I would say, oh dear, it’s interesting because last season, Nigella Lawson brought her makeup person to do her hair. This season I’m doing Nigella’s hair because the show’s gone union, so the union rule is that a makeup artist is not allowed to touch hair and hair is not allowed to touch makeup. I was very excited for Nigella. She’s such a doll. But I have to say out of all the judges, Anthony Bourdain I’m most excited because I’m a big fan of his. Out of all the judges I would say Anthony Bourdain.
TDQ: It will be award season before we know it and given your experience styling for the season, what’s the best piece of advice you could give women who want to achieve a sleek and shiny look worthy of the red carpet?
AL: Sleek and shiny for the red carpet, I would say a good blow dry and a flat iron is definitely going to do the trick. There’s one of my favorite products to achieve that look. It’s called Oil Reflections by Wella. It helps with the humidity, gives incredible shine and that’s always in my kit. That is definitely a product for anyone who wants a sleek shiny look for the red carpet. That’s been my product of choice.
TDQ: How about for those lacking in volume that really want to pump it up and look runway ready?
AL: I use Extra Volume Mousse by Wella. It’s a great product. It’s lightweight, but it really gives you extra volume. In fact, I use it all the time.
TDQ: What do you think is the biggest hair mistake women make when caring for their hair?
AL: The basic mistake that people make preparing for hair, the first thing that comes to me, is everybody in the shower puts conditioner on wet hair. Most conditioners, 99.99% of conditioners have some kind of oil base to it, and oil and water don’t mix. When you put in that conditioner on really wet dripping hair, you’re not getting much nourishment at all. So, I would really educate my clients to step outside of the water, wring the hair out with your hands and then put your conditioner in. That’s one thing and I think the other big mistake people make is, people are into curling irons and flat irons. Nobody uses thermal protection products, which are a heat protection for your hair. So, those are my biggest pet peeves that I try to coach my clients on all the time.
TDQ: And one more just for fun – If you could give any celebrity a hair makeover, who would it be and what would you do?
AL: The celebrity I would Love to give a makeover to is Lindsay Lohan. I would chop it off to a Michelle Williams length and make her a beautiful Rose gold copper! She desperately needs a makeover!