Why You Won't Just See Basic Braids On Natural Hair Models At This Season's Shows

by Jessica DeFino
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Oribe Global Ambassador and high-fashion hairstylist James Pecis might just be the nicest guy in the industry. Despite a long, celebrated career styling backstage at Fashion Week, working on shoots for W Magazine and Vogue (all of the Vogues — American, British, Paris), and collaborating with legendary photographers like Inez + Vinoodh, Mario Testino, Craig Dean, and Mert + Marcus, Pecis tells The Zoe Report the biggest lesson he’s learned is this: “Being an asshole doesn’t make anything better.” See? Nice guy.

Over the past few seasons, Pecis has also demonstrated a dedication to making all models, of all hair textures, look and feel their best on the runway. “Through some leaders in the industry, we now are closer to having a real mix of diversity but we are not there yet,” he tells TZR. “It has been an amazing new challenge for all hairdressers to step up their game and know how to work with all hair types and techniques. Whether it’s thick, thin, curly, or straight, at the end of the day, it’s just hair and we are all here because we want to be the best and challenge ourselves.” For the Fall/Winter 2020 season, Pecis predicts more experimentation with braids, beyond “cornrows going straight back.”

Another hope? Stronger sustainability efforts, backstage and front of house. “I am really hoping that more shows and designers this season will take new steps to create less waste and reduce environmental harm,” the stylist adds. It’s an issue that’s particularly important to Pecis; he recently published Noodled, a book of portraiture highlighting the ocean, with proceeds going to ocean-protection organization Mission Blue. Oribe and Pecis are bringing this passion to Fashion Month, too. “We have some new team cutting capes made from leftover fabrics from FABSCRAP and made locally in New York City,” he says.

Ahead, Pecis tells The Zoe Report about his styling philosophy, his big break, and Oribe’s legendary Paris Fashion Week afterparty.

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On How He Got His Start:

“I was drawn to hairdressing early when I was 16 and visited a friend in San Francisco and saw where she got her hair done. It was the '90s and the salon was minimal, brushed concrete, everyone wearing black, and super cool. My friends and family thought it was a bad idea to become a hairdresser but the idea of being creative, independent, and socially active sounded like a dream job. People would ask, ‘Are you sure you want to be on your feet all day?’ but my idea of hell is sitting still all day. It is still my dream job today.”

On His Big Break:

“I think throughout a career you have many moments contributing to who you are — some big and some small. One of the moments which is most dear to me is when I got an option to shoot with Emmanuelle Alt, Inez and Vinoodh for an entire issue of Vogue Paris. It was a career game-changer but more importantly, it was the beginning of a relationship I hold very dear today. They are family.”


On Hair Diversity At Fashion Week:

“The most interesting thing happening in hair for the last few years has been embracing individuality. The exciting thing about this is that it has opened up a lot of new techniques and styles for us to do backstage. Oribe is a professional styling line and it only makes sense for them to have the best professional tools we need backstage. The brand has kept itself moving forward with developing spect tools that are of the highest grade. Today it seems very old-fashioned to think a hair brand is limited to only do certain textures of hair.”

On What He’s Looking Forward To This Fashion Month:

“I always look forward to my team. We are very tight and it would not happen without them. We have some fun shows lined up from Hermès to Richard Quinn. I love doing the younger designers and the classic houses. I love to mix it up and the four cities deliver in such different ways.”


On His Kit Essentials:

“I have been going through the Oribe Priming Lotion Leave-In Conditioning Detangler like water so we keep a lot of that with us. I’m also into the new pic-brush from Dyson for a good stretch out pre-braiding.”

On The Fall/Winter 2020 Hair Trends He’s Predicting:

“I think you will see braiding taken to the next level. The last few seasons we have more and more cornrows going straight back and a little bit of playing with alternatives. I think this season you will see a strong braid game. Our team started to sneak in alternative designs toward the end of last season just because we started to get bored with straight-back designs.”


On Oribe’s Famous Paris Fashion Week Afterparty:

“The Oribe party encompasses what the brand is all about: supporting the best hairdressers in the world. This party is very special because you have the strongest session stylists traveling from around the world to work on teams during the fashion month. These hairdressers are established in their work outside of the shows and they are not doing the circuit for money… they are doing it for the love of hair and the team. Being a session stylist is a very competitive, if not the most competitive, field of hairdressing, but when it comes to the shows, it is all about the team. Oribe understands this and has been supporting this underground party for a few years. It’s at a small, intimate Texas bar in the 11th arrondissement in Paris with good drinks, quesadillas, and the best company.”