Hairstylists Luigi Parasmo and Javier Calvo have been partners in life for nearly 20 years. But last spring, they also became partners in business, opening the Luigi Parasmo Salon in historic Georgetown. The Advocate spoke with the stylists about their illustruous careers styling some of Washington, D.C.'s most notable figureheads, including former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, as well as the politics of mixing love and hair.
The Advocate: Luigi, you’ve styled for iconic fashion brands such as Valentino, Armani, D&G and Versace, but also iconic political figures, such as Condoleezza Rice. What is the difference between styling hair for fashion and politics?
Luigi: Although the style scene is beginning to change, D.C. is still conservative. So many women are still under pressure to look like Margaret Thatcher, so that they won’t stand out too much and will be taken seriously. I advise my clients to wear what I think would make them look hot, sexy and feminine, but it also depends on the person I have in my chair. The biggest difference between styling hair for fashion and styling hair for politics is keeping your limits in mind. With fashion, you can let your creativity go – in politics, you have to be mindful of a more moderate clientele. I can say proudly, however, that my clients rarely go for an old fashioned look.
Do you think it’s more difficult for women in politics to be creative with their looks?
Luigi: A lot of women in politics are not very creative when it comes to beauty because they are in, what they call, “a man’s world.”. From my understanding, this means men make the rules. So if you are a woman and want to be successful, you can’t be blonde, wear red nail polish, or dress girly. This is all traded in for smarts.
Who are some politicians you’d like to style, or could use your assistance?
Luigi: I’d love to style Hillary Clinton and Callista Gingrich. Their outdated hairstyles hide their beauty and femininity.
Who has the best hair in politics?
Luigi: I can’t decide on which one stands out the most, but Nancy Pelosi, Laura Bush and Michelle Obama have a defined style and direction to their hair looks.
What is your opinion of Rachel Maddow’s hair?
Luigi: I think Rachel’s hair should be a little longer, more like an Ellen DeGeneres do.
Luigi: Hillary Clinton’s hair is too long and she needs a trim.
Luigi: Sarah Palin’s hair is frumpy.
What messages are these power women trying to convey with their hairstyles?
Luigi: All three of these women are smart, powerful and attractive. Oddly, none of them really have a hairstyle that goes with their features.
What’s Condoleezza Rice like in person?
Luigi: I really happen to like Dr. Rice. She’s a very smart woman and has a lot of style. I’ve done her hair a few times and I must say, it has always looked amazing. The first time was for President Bush’s inauguration. She’s very proper, very lady-like, and makes it a point to greet everyone.
Does she ask for advice, or does she have a clear vision of her haircut?
Luigi: When I did her hair, she was our secretary of State, therefore a very busy woman. She knew what she liked and came in for, but also wanted to hear my opinion. I appreciated that.
Who are some other famous figureheads you’ve styled?
Luigi: I’ve worked with a number of notable Washingtonians with high positions in the government. Unfortunately I can’t disclose their names.
Earlier this year, a gay New Mexican hairstylist refused to cut his governor’s hair because she did not endorse marriage equality. What did you think of this stance? Would you ever refuse a politician service because of his or her political views?
Luigi: As a professional in this industry and in a city swarming with political opinions, I personally think that our own political opinions don’t matter when it comes to hair. I think the New Mexican hairstylist was inappropriate and unprofessional. Everyone is equal in my chair. Isn’t equality what we’re fighting for? In the salon atmosphere, you must be non-political because it doesn’t ever matter what your client’s view is.