Hairstylist and Oribe Global Ambassador James Pecis is a regular at fashion week, but in his spare time he’s an avid surfer. For his most recent project, Pecis combined both his profession and his passion with the book Noodled, which juxtaposes images of hair with those of the sea. The book, a collaboration with creative director Kimberley Norcott, fashion photographer Paul Wetherell, and ocean photographer Ben Bugden which is available for pre-order, is as romantic as it is powerful–all of its proceeds will go to marine conservationist group Mission Blue. “With the current events that are happening right now…everyone is asking themselves like well, what can I do, what’s my role? And it can be on many different levels, but everyone can offer something,” Pecis explains, “Everyone has talents.” Here, the hairstylist explains the project, and why he loves beachy, messy hair.
How did this project come together? The idea came from Kimberley Norcott. We were on a surf trip and we decided that the project that we were talking about connecting elements of nature with beauty in humans, we realized we can narrow it down to just working with water to make it more specific. And then when we were kind of brainstorming about it. We thought, “both of us have jobs, we both do other things, why don’t we do this as a project and then all the proceeds can go to a charity?”
That’s awesome. The reason why we came around to Mission Blue was a documentary from Sylvia Earle, who’s the founder of Mission Blue. She’s a diver and oceanographer, and she set up this charity. One of the things that she always says is, “everyone has talent, everyone has something they can offer. Find out how you can apply your talents for something better.” And that’s why this is a perfect match, especially with the current events that are happening right…everyone is asking themselves like well, what can I do, what’s my role? And it can be on many different levels, but everyone can offer something. Everyone has talents.
Once you had the charity, how did you settle on the concept of pairing hairstyles with photographs of the ocean? There [are similarities in] way things move in nature and the way that hair has movement–it forms the curve and bend, and water’s the same way.
The way this worked was there’s two photographers involved, one of which was a guy from Australia and he shoots images of water. So he sent to me like 150 images of his archives and then I printed them all out on papers and I kind of just kept going through them leading up to the shoot.
In my head I started getting familiar with these different ideas, and it was important to not just do a bunch of hair styles that emulated like a tube shot, you know? So it got me thinking and then I started with my referencing. I have an archive, I went back and I start putting together ideas of things that I see connections between water and hair, and then I use that as just kind of I guess like a print to get through the day.
For the hair shoots, we had each kid coming at different times. When they sat down what I do is I look at them and figure out how to cut their hair, how are we going to style it, and then kind of try to hit some of the things that I was planning to connect with water. Then we shoot everything. And then because hair is a natural substance, it’s very organic so most of the time you end up getting things that were not even expected. So when we finish all those pictures, I printed those out and then I just covered a wall, and I paired the hair images with the appropriate water pictures.
You have a fair amount of portraits of men with really awesome hair styles in the book. How did you approach casting? The casting director we had worked with was quite amazing and we ended up shooting him because we were looking for a particular type of young, interesting kids. And we thought that we could possibly find a little bit more kind of interesting characters in London, which I think it worked out pretty well. These kids were so sweet, they were brilliantly awesome, and they were really into the project. For a lot of them, it was their first time ever being on set, and a lot of parents showed up. Kind of funny.
All of the kids have different types of hair, and it seems to be a mix of wet and dry. The interesting thing about hair is that even straight hair, it’s looking for ways to move and whether it’s being pushed around by wind or a comb or product, it findings its way into really beautiful shapes. And water’s the same way. Water’s looking for leaks, it’s looking for a way to move around. And really wasn’t trying to make a statement with wet hair versus dry hair and that conflict, it was just more about shapes. And one thing you’ll notice throughout the book is it’s very diverse in the types of textures that you see.
And with all of these you do definitely feel that texture variation. Short of jumping in the ocean, what do you like to use to get that beach-y texture for the hair? You mean if you couldn’t jump in the ocean?
Yes. If you couldn’t. I think like the dry texture spray, like Oribe’s probably. It has a nicer, softer version of a texture than being like more the traditional salt sprays, a little bit gentler. I don’t know if everyone feels this way, I love how my hair works in the ocean.
Me, too. I wish I could bottle that. Are there any natural ingredients that you really love when it comes to hair care or styling specifically? Natural. Well, I like the texture in hair. I mean, I just did a product for Oribe which is called Swept Up…Yeah, so there’s that. But as far as natural, I love playing around with random things. I like putting lemon in the hair. I like… Lemon.
For texture or to highlight it in the sun, or what? Well, what it does is the citric acid in it, it kind of in a way opens up the cuticle and can be slightly damaging, and what that does is it causes the hair to lighten up. But when hair gets slightly damaged, sometimes the texture can also be useful to people. So that’s nice. When I work on beaches I’m happy to actually keep a bucket of salt water with me, and even if you just need to kind of put some on your hand and then scrunch it in the hair, sometimes it’s a nice way to break it down.
12 Hunks of the Beauty World On What Makes Them So Cute
“When it comes to gabbing during a makeup session, everything is on the table.”
Name: Edward Bess. Age: 30. Company: Founder, Edward Bess beauty. Bess seems to have been born opinionated about proper lipstick shades. Ten years ago, when he launched his eponymous cosmetics line, we were impressed by the confidence this wunderkind possessed. Success hasn’t changed Bess. Except these days, along with his makeup and skin care, we also want his to-die-for mane.
“I have [gotten crushed on Instagram], yes. I certainly appreciate the attention, and I try to thank people if they post a nice comment. Funniest comment I’ve received is someone congratulating my Mom and Dad for me!”
Who: Carlos Huber. Age: 35. Company: Founder, Arquiste Fragrances. The charming ex-pat has captured the beauty of his native Mexico through scent since 2011. Huber, who is also an architect specializing in historic preservation, has also done collaborations with J. Crew and St. Regis hotels.
“I think flirting is one of the most refreshing things in life. I love playing with words. I only play with words, not hearts.”
Name: Giorgos Tsetis. Age: 31. Company: Founder, Nutrafol Hair Supplements.
This former model has taken on one of men’s biggest concerns and poured his heart and soul into finding a natural solution for hair growth. From the looks of things, the stuff seems to work.
“I’m always in a rush in the morning, so my grooming routine is simple. I don’t like to use a lot of product on my skin or hair, but I interchange my own fragrances depending on my mood.”
Who: Jan Ahlgren. Age: 38. Company: Founder, Vilhelm Parfumerie. Perfumer Jan Ahlgren comes by his good looks honestly — that is, he started his career in the fashion industry as a model at age 21. He worked with Chanel for five years, traveling across Europe for various gigs. And, though he’s since forayed into fragrance, settling in New York with his wife Polly (he even named a perfume, “Dear Polly,” after her), he keeps one eye on menswear – “What I feel makes a man is the suit he wears,” Ahlgren says, citing Saint Laurent as his favorite designer. “I love a classic, tailored suit.”
“It is hard for me to walk down the street without being stopped by a modeling scout. The older I get, the more I seem appealing, somehow — like a good wine. Last week alone, I was asked to be the ambassador for a new hair loss prevention shampoo brand and an anti-cholesterol drug company. I guess it goes beyond good looks; at this point, it’s charisma. Or quantum physics.”
Name: Fabrice Penot. Age: 42. Company: Founder, Le Labo.
Look up “wise ass” or “snarky” in the dictionary and Penot’s name will come up. (When asked what makes him so cute, he had this to say: “It is all genes, baby. I rarely wash. “Genes and perfume.” My life could be a Jim Jarmusch movie.”) Lucky for him, he’s also responsible (with co-owner Eddie Roschi) for Le Labo’s cult hit fragrances Santal 33, Bergamote 22 and Rose 31, so we tolerate (and are admittedly tickled by) his unique form of humor.
“Most people realize that I am more interested in geeking out about their hair than getting them naked.”
Who: James Pecis. Age: 35. Company: Hairstylist and global ambassador, Oribe. The word “dreamy” needs to be brought back, solely because of Pecis. He is that triple threat of scary talent (at the top of photo shoot wish lists), calm charm, and goofball (just check out his Instagrams). Hair envy? You’re not the only one; Pecis says clients occasionally reference his own texture among their hair goals.
“My hair icon is Mickey Rourke circa 1985; … My other hair icon is Johnny Depp circa 2005.”
Who: Geoff Genesky, Ph.D Age: 35. Company: Head chemisty, Kiehl’s. Who can resist a cute science nerd? Genesky, who’s been with Kiehl’s since 2011, makes skin care chemistry more understandable. (And, just like us, he loves a good Kiehl’s routine, combining new tester formulas with favorite fragrances like Dior Sauvage and YSL L’Homme.) Or maybe he’s just naturally gifted at keeping our attention.
“I grew up with a strong mother and to have success in this business you have to have a slight mental transvestism — meaning being able to enter the mood or the spirit of the opposite sex and take on their psychology. So … I love being surrounded by women!”
Name: Sir John. Age: 34. Company: Makeup artist and brand ambassador, L’Oréal. We go pretty far back with this Sir John. He was the makeup artist on W’s November 2010 Ryan Trecartin shoot, creating such daunting tasks as pixilation and dashboards on the models’ faces. These days, he tours with Beyonce and is part of the Chrissy Teigen posse — and he has the Instagrams to prove it, assuring us his DMs are “poppin’” — but we love saying we knew him when…
“A lady used to send packages of fresh-baked cookies to my studio all the time for years. We never met. You can’t eat those. I feel bad saying this. They did look tasty.”
Name: Frederick Bouchardy. Age: 36. Company: Fragrance designer, developer, and founder of Joya Studio parfums. In a world dripping with scent, Bouchardy is dripping with charm and dry wit. One of the founders behind indie fragrance trade show Elements, the father of a newborn baby boy champions outside-the-box olfactive creation. If you haven’t lit his Foxglove or Lapsang Noir candles, you don’t know cozy.
“Somebody told me the second-most-Googled thing after my name is ‘Ben Gorham’s wife.’”
Who: Ben Gorham. Age: 38. Company: Founder, Byredo. Despite being besties with Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin and having Kanye on speed-dial, you won’t find them more down-to-earth than Ben. So, try not to swoon if you ever meet. It’ll just make him uncomfortable.
“I’ve modeled for friends who have small brands as a favor, but nothing official. But if Gucci needs some extras, I’ll work for clothes.”
Who: Benoit Verdier. Age: 38. Company: Founder, Ex Nihilo fragrances. The co-founder of this “demi-spoke” indie brand can often be found in his Rue St. Honoré boutique mixing fresh blends for clients as his adorable French bulldog Hip Hop sits on the stairs nearby. Between the two of them, it is tough to decide who’s cuter.
“I’ve always been one of those people that needs to be knocked over the head to know if someone is flirting with me, so warding off attention isn’t really something I think about!”
Name: Troy Surratt. Age: 46. Company: Makeup artist and founder, Surratt Cosmetics. Surratt was mentored by none other than Kevyn Aucoin, but since he’s come into his own, he’s worked with the likes of J. Lo, Adele, and Charlize Theron and founded his own cosmetics line (called, predictably, Surratt). Now, he just has to master Instagram… “I always joke that I’m about ten years too old for it to become really natural for me,” he says.
Model and Musician Rainey Qualley Undergoes a Radical Hair Transformation in the Hands of Celeb Stylist Garren