As the Nineties got under way, blow-dryers were revving up on Fifth Avenue, in preparation for the duel of the decade. In one corner was Frédéric Fekkai, the suave French newcomer with tousled locks and smitten female clients. In the other corner was Oribe, just two years older and already a fashion show vet with pomp and pomade to spare.
When W covered the feisty face-off in 1991, we wondered who would ultimately reign as King of the Cut. Fekkai delivered quick and easy-to- maintain snips, charging a then astronomical price of $175. Oribe, meanwhile, had supermodel regulars (Linda, Naomi) and a reputation for edgier, more fashion-forward styles. “My haircuts are basic, but the styling can be outrageous,” he said.
In the years that followed, the two stylists pursued entirely different paths. Fekkai, now 49, spent the Nineties expanding his empire and developing a line of hair-care products and accessories. Of course, he also famously dated some of New York’s blondest ladies—among them Patricia Duff, Libet Johnson and Shirin von Wulffen, whom he married in Germany in 2006.
As for Oribe, he stirred up a bit more controversy, feuding with fashion designers he deemed unappreciative of his talents. One in particular, Laura Whitcomb, got upset when Oribe wouldn’t let her touch a model’s hair. “Who does she think she is, Calvin Klein?” Oribe fumed to W’s sister publication, Women’s Wear Daily, in 1994. “I told her, ‘You should keep the little amount of money you’re paying me and go to a finishing school.’” Not that the diva behavior hurt him—he went on to have a long collaboration with Jennifer Lopez and a string of salons in New York and Miami Beach. Today, at 51, Oribe is on top of the fashion world once again, having recently styled coifs for the Louis Vuitton and Tom Ford spring ad campaigns, not to mention W’s March cover. Perhaps it’s time for a rematch?