Evanie Frausto Creates Fantasy Hairstyles From a Distance With His “Digital Dos”
The hairstylist shares his quarantine routine, plus six looks created exclusively for W.
For W’s new series, “One Fun Thing,” we’re inviting creative people around the world to share an easy, relaxing activity that has brightened up their days spent at home, from Marcel Dzama’s homemade coloring books to Jean Prounis’s rosewater pistachio shortbread recipe to Simone Rocha’s kitchen garden. Consider it a grab bag of ideas for how to shake up your own quarantine routine.
Looking at a hairstyle by Evanie Frausto is a transportive experience. His Instagram feed is a surreal collection of sculptural spikes and pastel bouffants, punctuated by a cover shoot with Kendall Jenner; self-portraits with his partner, the makeup artist George Kan; and Bella Hadid’s would-be Met Gala look for good measure. And even though touching other people is strictly taboo right now, Frausto proves that you don’t need to be on set to create beautiful hair. For his “Digital Do” series, Frausto superimposes his fantastical styles onto the heads of subjects such as Princess Gollum, Alli Harvard, and West Dakota, creating virtual collaborations that circumvent social distance. From Juergen Teller to Pink Flamingos, Frausto discusses his isolation inspiration, how pushing yourself to stay creative in quarantine is overrated, and why bleaching your hair is probably a mistake. Get lost in six of his digital do’s, made exclusively for W, here.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, you were having a breakout year: a Kendall Jenner cover with Maurizio Cattelan and Campbell Addy and a digital cover with Arca for Garage, plus Joan Smalls, J Balvin and Bad Bunny for Vogue Mexico. What’s your day to day like now?
Well, shockingly I still remain busy—for me working and making is a really important way to take my mind off the current situation. It’s a mode of survival, really. Working outside the New York fashion world, the pace is a lot slower and more manageable. Two months ago, I was staying up until 3 A.M. making wigs, I was on set having to make hair looks in just a few minutes…for the first time in a while I have a bit more control over my time. I do miss the energy, I enjoy the rush, but now the situation has brought a lot of very real stresses, so the slower pace is really needed to calm things down.
I absolutely love the “digital dos” you’ve been creating in quarantine, can you explain how your creative process has adapted in isolation?
I want to take the social distancing guidelines very seriously because staying home and avoiding contact with others is important for everyone. This means we can’t get together to make actual photo shoots happen. So everything I’m doing, I’m doing from home. In terms of the hair styling—cutting, coloring, making wigs—that’s really all the same. But the difference now is I’m just placing the wigs digitally! It’s still a collaboration because I’m working with the photo I’m given, with the model, their expression and styling. I use that photo to think up the style. It’s really enjoyable. When people send me photos, I don’t specify much about them. I love the surprise of what everyone has done, it’s inspiring actually.
Where did you look to find inspiration for your W digital do’s?
When I started the digital dos I was really going wild in terms of styling and color—really bold colors and strong shapes. For W, I really wanted to take a little step in another direction, trying something softer with a little more glam. I was looking at vintage Vogue covers, nineties supermodels, Linda Evangelista and Madonna. The photo of Berit pays homage to Juergen Teller’s iconic image of Kate Moss. I wanted a touch of nostalgia. Something a bit sixties, something a bit nineties. The color palette included some natural hair tones that I hadn’t done in the digital do’s yet. But I also did use some color because right now color really lifts my spirits—just using it and looking at it.
What are some products you’ve been excited about using at home?
I’ve been more excited actually about making my own products at home. When I started making my wigs at home with my in-laws, I was using so much hairspray and the smell was very intense for everyone—it was burning people’s lungs and making them cough, which was not ideal given the current situation. I always work with hairspray—I think I must be immune to it now— but I needed to find another solution to save the family.
On top of that, now is really the time to reduce shopping trips and reliance on online ordering. I found I could make hairspray with hot boiled water and sugar—and a touch of salt for grip. It’s sticky but it works amazing. On all the wigs for W, the only product I used was table sugar! I’ve also been experimenting with making hair color from food dye and hair conditioner—as a necessary way to cut costs. I used this on the W wigs too! I have to be honest and say, I’m still working this out. Yasmin’s wig was supposed to be more purple yet it came out more pink—which, in the end, I liked!
How can people best take care of their hair while they’re at home? Are there any DIY treatments that you’ve tried?
It’s crazy to me to see how so many people are really freaking out about their hair. The pandemic has revealed how important it is to people. Worries about it growing, the color fading, the shape changing. And then, on the other hand, I see people who are doing really radical things with their hair—shaving it off, coloring it, chopping it up, giving themselves bangs. And that shows how much hair is an outlet for expressing whatever else is going on—stress, exasperation, joy. I’m also only realizing now as I say this how I actually haven’t done anything major yet with my own hair—which is wild to me because I’m bleaching and cutting it up all the time!
My advice for people who are precious about their hair is to just wait—you’re not seeing anyone anyway, and your hairstylist would love the work when you come out of lockdown! And my advice for the brave is to just do it—my motto is “hair always grows back!”
The only DIY thing I’ve tried is the sugar spray—so anyone looking for a sixties up-do for their night in should give it a go.
Do you have any suggestions of how to avoid a serious mistake if you’re taking on a more drastic hair project?
Girl, you gotta go in there knowing you’re gonna make a mistake. It’s gonna happen. That’s gotta be your mindset. I’ve done so much to my hair—I’ve melted it off, I’ve turned it the wrong color, I’ve cut holes in my head, cut my fingers. It’s all part of it. But I guess what would help making the mistakes a bit smaller would be to use the proper tools. For cutting your hair you want two things: a thinning shear (it’s scissors with teeth on one side) and a guarded razor. They’re good because they both have guards and prevent you cutting yourself. Also they both have a softening effect, no hard line, which means if you were to make a mistake it won’t be as noticeable. Hair bleaching and dying is a whole science—so good luck. I don’t mean to discourage, actually the opposite—you only learn by mistakes!
What’s one other work (be it a movie, tv show, book, piece of art) you’ve found comfort or joy in lately?
I’ve been taking loads of photos with my partner. We’re both artists locked up in a house together so we’ve been expressing ourselves and the situation in a very comedic and light-hearted way—taking on a host of different characters. And now we’re getting the rest of his family involved which is fun and exciting—a way to laugh and come together.
Otherwise I’ve watched Catwalk, the fashion documentary from 1995 (it’s free online). It gives a real perspective on fashion week. It follows Christy Turlington through international fashion season and you get all these real uncensored moments.
I’ve also rewatched John Waters’ early works: Pink Flamingos and Female Trouble. They are so raw and bold and disturbing and camp. It’s actually inspiring. I watched them right before the digital dos and it brought me back to a way of embracing being unrefined. In fashion it’s easy to get lost in being refined and restrained, when sometimes it’s better not to give a fuck.
Your work focuses a great deal on queer and Latinx identity, can you speak to how the coronavirus has impacted those communities and any effect it’s had on your work?
I can’t speak for my community as a whole. It’s all in the news about how, in New York, for instance, racism has caused a disproportionate number of deaths among minority groups. It’s heartbreaking because it’s my community—it’s literally my family. The people we know who are undocumented won’t get a stimulus check, they won’t get any medical help. They may still be working in low paid jobs where they are at serious risk., or they may have been among the first to have been laid off, without support, aid, assistance, or the funds to survive. I can’t really say much more than that. We have to educate ourselves about what is going on because the deadly effects of racism have existed long before the virus—the virus has just made them painfully more apparent.
Do you have any recommendations or advice for people struggling to stay creative at home?
I don’t think there needs to be this pressure on staying creative or being productive. I’m hairstyling right now because it’s what’s best for me. It’s my therapy. If doing something else is better for you, then that’s ok. I think there’s a huge pressure to produce content. In the creative industries, Instagram has really become part of the job—and so everyone still wants to produce the content. Some people’s content really relied on the shoots—the gathering of people—so now that’s gone but the pressure to produce content still remains, because even in quarantine, the digital world has not stopped. If staying creative is helpful for you in this time, then do it. And if it’s not, don’t worry about it. This is a traumatic time, and doing what makes you feel good is much more important right now.
What’s the first thing you’re going to do when this is all over?
I don’t think it’s gonna be over in a flash. It’s probably gonna be like this strange rebirth into a new normal. This question is making me laugh because it’s so ironic for me. Before the virus, I basically just stayed home and worked all the time, which is what I do now! I feel like I’ve been social distancing since 2015.