Written by A Wild Dove | Photographed by Eric White
Andre Davis is the go-to for women clamoring after today’s wildly popular, sexy, undone hair. The celebrity hair stylist created the uncontrived, voluminous look that has become his signature since his days working on Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar shoots with “first name only” models (think Naomi). Today he is the stylist of choice for everyone from working women to A-list influncer Olivia Palermo (he famously chopped her lob that sent the fashion industry’s tongue wagging). But Davis is known for so much more than his finely skilled chops. He is also the word-of-mouth-only king of the extensions world. A select few know to hit him up for his expertise, laying down hair that looks ridiculously natural, full and amazing. If that wasn’t enough, Davis took his knowledge and started a wig business, much of which benefits women with cancer and other hair issues. We sat down with Davis to talk wigs, extensions, kids and which celebrity has the perfect weave:
OK so you’re like an extension god. What do you love most about hair extensions?
I love the fact that you can actually transform the hair from an in-between cut or maybe fine textured, and make it sexy. I love sexy hair. It’s my thing. A woman can be sexy at 80 or 20. So I love the transformation, whether I’m making it longer or adding fullness and volume. I’m all about uncontrived looks, nothing so done. When hair is too done, it makes a woman look tightly wound and not sexy.
How has the extensions business changed since you first started?
There are so many different techniques in terms of extensions and not all techniques are the greatest. The fusion method rips hair out at the root. I used to do it and found that hair was coming out, but lots of women still want it. I do the sew ins, the tracks, the “weaves.” With standard tracks, you don't need any more than three for a full head of hair depending on how long or short you want it. Also the price of hair has gone up a lot if you want great quality. In the beginning, there weren’t too many places that had good quality. My hair is flown in to New York, there’s no real quality hair in New York. So my clients are very picky and want the best.
What are your clients seeking now in terms of extensions and trends, and how has that changed over the years?
A lot of clients just want hair. Now they want the best quality hair. If you see any of my clients, you really have to guess if they have extensions. It has to be a seamless look also, like it’s growing out of the scalp. It has to blend and be totally perfect. It also can’t be so much maintenance. You just have to retighten them every two to three months and you can use that same hair for six to eight months or more. It’s really great hair.
WHICH CELEBRITY IN YOUR OPINION REALLY NAILS IT WITH EXTENSIONS? WHICH, NOT SO MUCH?
Kim Kardashian does a great job. Eva Longoria’s hair looks great. Britney Spears had the worst extensions but now they’re looking much better. Also some of those “Housewives of Beverly Hills’ are horrible. The blondes are bad.
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR WIG BUSINESS AND HOW THAT GOT STARTED?
I’ve always been into in wigs since my mother had cancer and I wanted to do something about it. So I did some stuff with the American Cancer Society and I found that a lot of clients are very sensitive. I had one client who was 27 years old and was going through chemotherapy. Her mother came and said she went around to a lot of wig designers and came upon my name. She needed a person who had the right temperament. I have a good rapport with these clients. I make them feel comfortable and I gain their trust that I can deliver a wig that will be natural and help them feel good about themselves.
What's the most fulfilling aspect of working with ill clients?
Well what stuck out with this particular client was that after having a series of treatments, we were trying to make sure she got her wig in time before her losing hair. I remember when it was ready, she came in, took off her head scarf and I washed hair and knew everything would come out, and it did. She said she didn't want to see herself bald. I put her wig on and she came alive. She said, ‘Wow this looks like my own.’ That’s the rewarding part.
How has having children changed your perspective or inspired your work?
In every way. My kids are precocious and super smart. They inspire me to do better with them in mind. I want to be a good example. I want them to enjoy what they do. I tell them, ‘Love what you do and you’ll be successful.’ They inspire me everyday and are my best critic.
WHAT'S ONE THING WE MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT EXTENSIONS?
People look at extensions as a bandaid but I look at the overall hair, even if it’s damaged or after a bad haircut, as a process and journey to healthy hair. Some hair will never be as full but extensions are a way of changing your image very quickly. Some people think it’s a lot of maintenance but it’s not. You have to get used to it, like everything else. Bond with it. Make it your own.