Behind the creative process of editorial shoots, fashion videos, and celebrity faces is a team of artists who make a vision come to life. Evanie Frausto, the hairstylist behind Sky Ferraira’s first Pitchfork cover and Petra Collins’ Met Gala look, among many others, is one of those creatives.
After relocating to New York from Los Angeles, Frausto made a name for himself, not just for his hairstyling, but for his brilliant wig-making skills. Now, the beauty prodigy has major names who trust him to execute his own vision on set—a vision that’s loud, unapologetic, and over-the-top colorful. It’s the perfect antidote to the effortless beauty aesthetic that’s emerged over the last few years, the kind of creativity that reminds us why we fell in love with fashion in the first place.
Below, Frausto opens up about beauty school, his MySpace days, and his craziest on-set story (hint: it involves Nan Goldin and a fish pond).
Tell us a little about your background! How did you get into hairstyling?
“I got into hairstyling because I was too broke to go to college. I was a bad kid in school, so I didn’t have the grades either. I’m from Orange County, California. When I was graduating high school, I happened to be working as a receptionist for a hair salon in a JC Penny at a nearby mall. I thought, ‘this could be an easy way to earn some cash.’ I worked hard at hair school and dedicated myself, but, more importantly, I started to enjoy it. I wanted to get away from Orange County, and hair school got me to LA. While there, my classmates and I went on a trip to New York, I never came home. Hair was my ticket here.”
What were some significant moments in your upbringing or your past experiences that lead you to this profession?
“Well when I was really little, I loved this song “Pelo Suelto” by Gloria Trevi. It means ‘free hair.’ I would put my T-shirt on my head and swing it round like it was my hair. That, and me stealing my sisters’ barbies when I was a kid. I loved their hair—I’d cut it with craft scissors and color it with markers. Long platinum hair Barbie would get a Crayola crayon purple bob. My sisters would be pissed.
“Fast forward a few years and MySpace happened. That was a massive thing for me. Dark eyeliner, multi-colored or jet black hair, extensions. I’d do everything to my hair and my friends asked me to do everything to their hair—cut it, dye it, extend it. The scene kid stuff was a whole world with a whole other perspective on beauty. It had such an impact on me.”
How has your aesthetic has changed since you first started out?
“When I first started, I was in the salon world. It was very safe and comfortable—basic blowouts, long layers, beach waves. I didn’t resonate with it. I would be so bored. But then I got to work in fashion—on set, backstage, and in editorial. I discovered this new world, and I fell in love with the fantasy that can be created in fashion. I could tell a story with hair—color, length, shape, wigs! You can transform people. I became unafraid. When I do hair, I no longer think ‘how does that woman wear her hair everyday?’ Instead, I think, ‘what is going to stand out?’ or ‘what is going to get a reaction?’”
Have you had any life-changing moments in your career thus far? What has been your favorite project to date?
“Gosh. I don’t know how to pick. Working with Nan [Goldin] on a fashion story was amazing. She has a totally different eye. I loved her being herself. She got me to jump into the water with Chloë Sevigny to fend off the fish that was nibbling at her legs. I love Nan.”
Your hairstyles and wigs are very attention-grabbing. For you, is there separation between life and your art, or do the two flow seamlessly into each other?
“I think they definitely flow into each other. I’m sitting in my apartment with hair all over the floor; wigs cover all the furniture, there’s hair products across the kitchen and dye all over the bathtub. There are two full wigs setting in my freezer as I write this, and four drying in the bedroom. My partner spends hours hopeless picking up hairpins, from the floor, from the laundry. We even get hair splinters sometimes. If you haven’t heard of those, they’re worse than usual splinters. But I’m quite a chill person, I don’t wear any color, and I’m not that attention seeking, so I guess my work is louder than I am in that way.”
Has working in this profession affected your style?
“I wear black jeans and a band T-shirt everyday. I think my hair styles relate more to my interests, particularly music—I love everything from punk and electronic to disco and witch house—and movies by people like Tim Burton and John Waters. I experiment with my hair a lot—I bleach it, color it, cut it, and shave it off. Whenever I go through any kind of change in my life, I always change my hair. I guess my hair is how I express myself.”
How would you describe your aesthetic?
“This is the hardest question to be asked. I don’t feel like I have one aesthetic. I take inspiration from so many places, it’s hard to put words to it. I’m always trying out new things and pushing myself. But even though I say that, so many people say they can distinguish my work. I guess it’s different when you’re in it.”
Talk us through your creative process.
“The process is different every time. Sometimes, there’s a very specific brief. Sometimes, it’s more of a collaboration. Now that I’ve been doing this longer, people know my work so they ask me to just do my thing, which is a lovely compliment.When I have to prep for a shoot, I start with references: some images and some ideas. Then I get my hands on the materials—on the wigs, the hair, or the feathers, or the glue gun—and just play around and see what works. After that, it’s just a case of working late into the night until it either comes together or falls apart.”
How do you hope the industry will evolve?
“I mean, I really love that the industry is increasing its diversity. Particularly in casting; seeing the beauty in a new variety of bodies, gender presentations, races, etc. I want more diversity to continue. There is also a real movement of not tolerating certain behaviors, and it’s so important this keeps improving.”
What is your favorite thing about your job?
“I love being able to be creative everyday. It’s so important to me. And, to be real, it’s such a privilege to be an artist who isn’t starving. I get to meet new people all the time and find new creative partnerships. I love my job, I can’t complain.”
Is there any advice you’d give aspiring hairstylists?
“My mentor told me that if you wanted to work in fashion, you have to live in a fashion city. Fashion doesn’t happen everywhere, so you really have to be there. Also, assisting is great—you learn things you can’t learn anywhere else. Assisting Jimmy Paul taught me not just a whole load of techniques, but it also taught me the business side of the industry, which is really half the battle. But really, the best advice for any artist is to not pay attention to other people’s work. Don’t worry about what they’re doing, just do your own thing.”