As I anxiously await the postman, I’m hoping today I open my mailbox to find my Charlie’s Angels Box Set that I pre-ordered over a month ago. This 1976-1981 TV show epitomized style and it changed the hair industry forever. There’s a reason it’s been revamped so many times. (See; “Angels 88,” “Charlie’s Angels 1 & 2 starring Drew Barrymore”, “Angeles- The Latina Version”, and “Charlie’s Angels 2011 TV series.”)
The reason I say this about the hair industry is because Farrah Fawcett sported a hairstyle that most women (as well as some men) all over the world attempted to duplicate. Hairdresser’s everywhere were asked by their clients to make them look like “Jill Monroe” on Charlie’s Angels. Even after Farrah Fawcett reinvented her signature look, her hair style (known simply as “The Farrah”) defined the 70’s decade. It continued on into the 80’s as seen on characters like Blair Warner when she learned “The Facts Of Life.”
Like everything in fashion, “The Farrah” returned again (& again) and is worn by almost every major female star today… as well as models on magazine covers, and nearly every girl walking down the street. That must mean so much to the man who created this look! Legendary stylist Allen Edwards is not only responsible for “The Farrah,” but he has also built a spectacular clientele with names like Raquel Welch, Renee Zellweger, Julianna Moore, and Leah Remini. Edwards has opened several successful salons with one of the strongest educational programs that is still copied by salons everywhere. He has appeared on the The Regis Show, Style Network, E! TV, and even the Oprah Winfrey Show. His business sense in our industry really set the standards high for all the great stylists. It comes as no surprise that the Hair Nerd inside of me decided it’s time to #nerdstalk him! I wanted to hear him describe in his own words what it was like from the beginning leading up to the man known as The Legendary Allen Edwards.
I can’t believe I’m sitting here chatting with you Allen! This will be a huge memorable moment in my own career! Let’s talk about the earlier days… How did you come to realize you wanted to do hair?
I started out as a dancer & a trumpet player. We’re talking when I was 17 years old in school. I played trumpet all through school… I always loved performing & being on stage. I went to college for a year, & when I got out of college, I started seeing there were so many positions out there that didn’t really make much money. Trumpet players were mostly used only in the studios… so at 18 while hanging out in the nightclub scene, a friend of mine suggested I go to beauty school! So I did! I dug it right away! I liked the concept of cutting hair, & I was the guy that would do more hair than anybody in beauty school. It was a way to keep performing. The dancing thing was pretty cool too & a lot of fun… I mean we are talking the late 60’s! We would all have contests & do routines & I was just having a blast doing “The Pony” & “The Jerk.” I was on a Television show at that time called “Hollywood A Go Go” & it was just a good time! It was around that time that I left the 1st salon I was working in & went on to work at Jon Peters Salon. That’s when the big breaks started happening!
Good for you for taking a risk! I know you ended up taking over his salon. What was going through your head when you signed on the dotted line to take over the very successful Jon Peters Salon?
Well, Me, Jon, & Paul Canter were partners at the Woodland Hills Salon. When the time came, Jon had the salon in Beverly Hills on Rodeo Drive next to Chanel… and at that time, Jon was doing Barbra Streisand’s hair & decided he wanted to leave the salon. Paul called me and said Jon was leaving so let’s take over the Beverly Hills location. That salon was a huge deal and big salon… 4000 square feet, 27 employees! Here I am a kid in my 20’s buying out Jon! I was already doing Farrah Fawcett’s hair so it was all really happening for me. The big thing for me though was the ability to do television. That made my salons so busy! That’s when I opened up my other locations in Newport Beach, Long Beach, & Irvine.
Well, as far as Farrah Fawcett goes , I know when I look back at all her interviews on TV & in magazines, there are times I think her hair was more famous than she was! Let’s talk about “The Farrah.” Describe that day, what was Farrah Fawcett’s reaction when you spun the chair around for the 1st time…?
I was at the Woodland Hills salon then & I was cutting Jim Brolin’s 1st wife’s hair …before he married Barbra Streisand. She & Jim were friends with Farrah. I had seen Farrah in a commercial & I thought “someday I’m going to do her hair!” All the sudden, she walked into the salon! At that time her hair was slightly layered & didn’t have any bangs. But it wasn’t like a reality show where you do the makeover & you spin the chair around she says “Oh My God Look At Me, I’m A Star!”
It was just that I was doing her hair like every other client. We were highlighting it. I started layering it more & more. We talked about it & decided to give her more volume which we called a “Blow-Curl…” I would blow her out using my fingers and then I would pin curl the ends around the end of the shaft. By the time I finished pin curling it was usually dry all over. I would then take out the pins & have her shake her hair out & that was “The Farrah Look.”
She started doing Charlie’s Angels & I went on to do The Regis Show. After my appearance on there, the next day all the salons got a little over 200 calls each for appointments… I continued on doing The Regis Show regularly showing different styles & geometrics with lots of edgy stuff. That landed me on hundreds of daytime TV shows all the way from Good Day America to Lifestyles Of The Rich & Famous!
I’ve read & heard different stories about how you & Farrah parted ways… but what really happened?
Our relationship ended because she went on The Merv Griffin Show which was the #1 talk show at the time. Merv asked her who did her hair & she answered by saying she did it herself. Essentially, I did it right before she went on the show. When I asked her about it she said “well it’s because everybody always asks me about it & who did it, so I just said I did.” So I told her if you are going to say you did it yourself, then go do it yourself. That was the end me & Farrah.
Since the style was so innovative & famous it’s not a shock that it reemerges so many times and becomes extremely popular again & again…
Yea, well it always comes back because it’s sexy. It reemerged with Madonna in the 90’s. What happens is when sexy hair comes back in style it’s all about The Farrah, because that really is sexy hair! The reason why is It’s because in the 60’s it was very geometric with people like Sassoon & the Shag popular. So “The Farrah” was really new because it was big volume & very sexy!
You’ve done so much in your career and really set a majority of the standards for hair styling. What do you think of today’s hair industry?
I could go on forever with this! Back then, stylists were not allowed on the set where celebrities were shooting because of Unions. Today they have agencies that supply stylists. Stars now go through the agency & from there the stylist has the chance to become the personal stylist to the celebrity. My success didn’t come from celebrities though… not that they were not important & didn’t play a big factor in my success… but they were a door opener for me to get onto television to reach the everyday woman. Once you find what works, make it work for you.
…just like products! Because I know your product line Shear Force is absolutely incredible! It has Marula & Maringa in the ingredients. That’s so new and fresh! What’s your best Shear Force seller that clients love?
Texture String. It textures the hair to the extreme! I do Home-Shopping in the UK. It’s called “Ideal World TV” which is just like Home-Shopping Network here in America & I will sell 4000 Texture String’s in 2 hours! It’s the one product that shows such a difference in a makeover! I love it!
So Allen, any advice for stylists who want to follow in the Allen Edwards footsteps?
You have to be creative and find a way to get your work out there! Try different things. Do photo shoots! If you live in Los Angeles & want to do movies, get in with an agency. I was lucky to be one of the 1st stylists to get on TV. That was the new way then. That was before cable… at 9am every woman was watching The Regis Show… now you can do a great thing on a cable network & not ever be seen. If someone wants to be a successful owner, new ways now are things like Salon Suites. That seems like the way to go & that is why they are taking off everywhere. Find what’s new & make it work for you!
Well, I have to say, this has been a fascinating experience & chock full of legendary stories with tons of wisdom that people would pay for! I admire your business sense & of course your work.
*To make an appointment at The Allen Edwards Salon visit: The Allen Edwards Salon Website