Little else is known about the circumstances of Canales’s death. “While we don’t have an official statement from the family at this time, we can confirm that this sad news is true,” a representative for the brand wrote in an email to W. “Oribe was an amazing hairdresser and friend and will be missed. Out of respect for his partner, Zaki, and his family, we have no further comment at this time.”
In the late ’70s, the hairstylist Garren adopted the Cuban-born, North Carolina-raised Canales as his protégé; from there, throughout the ’80s and early ’90s, Canales embarked on a rapid ascent to notoriety, largely through his editorial work with Steven Meisel and François Nars as well as his work backstage at many a top fashion show. A staunch advocate for massive volume hair, he “did for hairdressing what Arnold Schwarzenegger did for bodybuilding,” his protegé Brad Johns told The New York Times in 2005—that is, he steered it toward maximalism.
Concomitant with his rise were those of the original supermodels, like Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington, and Cindy Crawford, devotees of Canales’s work all of them. (According to New York magazine, Turlington introduced Meisel—and, by extension, Nars and Canales—to Campbell and Evangelista. “‘The Trinity’ was born,” Alex Williams wrote in 1986.) Canales was recruited to style for photographer Richard Avedon and on the runway for Versace and Marc Jacobs at Perry Ellis, where, though it contrasted with his prevailing taste, he helped usher in the low-volume, dirtbag-grunge aesthetic: “Marc wanted me to stick a barrette in the model’s hair without having it actually hold anything. He was very progressive, and I hated it,” Canales told Into the Gloss in 2013.
In addition to his fashion clients—who also counted among them Karen Elson and Emily Ratajkowski, as well as labels like Louis Vuitton and Tom Ford—Canales became the go-to hairstylist for one Jennifer Lopez. In 2008, he started the eponymous hair-care brand Oribe, whose dry texturizing spray went on to inspire cultlike devotion; the label recently celebrated its 10th anniversary.
Canales’s friends, peers, and clients have consigned their remembrances to social media, posting on Instagram and Twitter in his memory. Scroll on for a few of the most touching tributes to the late hairstylist.