Today’s Feature: December 13th-14th, Hunter McLeod

December 14, 2007 at 11:21 pm (Today's Feature)

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I wish I got the kind of attention Hunter McLeod garners each and every day. Beautiful women calling every hour, begging for consideration… begging for just a few minutes in the styling chair with McLeod. This is a reality for Hunter. He arrived in New York this year from Vancouver to marry his wife as well as transform the ladies of NYC with his uncanny styling ability. What he’s able to do with the tools of his profession is certainly beyond me.

Currently climbing the ranks of Arrojo Studio, Hunter’s “fully tattooed style might intimidate at first, but he’s never had a client not come back.” He is dedicated to his craft, wowing clients throughout North America with a fashion all his own. He is “always drawing styles,” first as head stylist at The Axis in Vancouver, then on the road traveling with Wella, Romeo Gigli and Versache. He was also the lead stylist for 2006 “Fashion Rocks” Charity Fall Fashion Show.

You can catch him in the big apple, where he generally sees around 11-15 costumers a day. That may sound like a lot, but trust me… it may take a few tries to finally sit in Hunter’s chair. The result however, is unquestionably worth the wait. We had a chance to sit down with him at his office – Arrojo Studio, in SoHo. Get into his XXQ’s.

PensEyeView.com (PEV): Hey Hunter, thanks for meeting with us today. So, how and when did you first get started in hair styling?

Hunter McLeod (HM): I first got started doing hair when I quit art University. I was actually traveling Europe for two years, doing the young people thing; traveling around. I kept meeting all these amazing people all over Europe that didn’t have that worn-out travel look to them and they’re always at the coolest events and galleries. Well wouldn’t you know, they were stylists (laughs). So, I pretty much into it after that. I went back to Vancouver and started my apprenticeship there.

PEV: Is a lot of hair styling based around being an apprentice?

HM: Yeah. Even if you go to school you will still have to be an apprentice afterwards.

PEV: Did you start off at a smaller place or a much larger place like here at Arrojo?

HM: In Canada or Western Canada it was quite known, so that is why I went there to do my apprenticeship.

PEV: How is the Vancouver fashion, styling, and art scene different than it is here in the US?

HM: There are similarities and there are many differences. Beauty wise or more general, you’re looking at a lot of “Pamela Anderson” or “west coast” type beauty. A lot of silicon, plastic surgery, everyone wants to be blonde. But Vancouver is a special little weird place because it is 85% Asian. So you are dealing with a lot of Tokyo tastes, Hong Kong tastes. More modern but also that mixture of wanting to look very west coast too.

There is a bit of a cross breed in New York. You are dealing with the crazy cool kids worldwide and then you are dealing with Playmates and models (laughs).

PEV: I hear a lot of war stories with stylists. Have you ever had any war stories?

HM: There have been stories but at the same time every time I am asked that question, it is kind of like a doctor; I can’t answer that question. Any time you are blending two people’s styles, points of views, personalities, whether it is art, sculpture, hair, whenever you are blending those two you are going to have sometimes that is just won’t work. Usually it is communication.

PEV: How has it been working here at Arrojo so far?

HM: It’s been great! Loving it. I was lucky enough to meet Nick (Arrojo) about five years ago, and when I moved to New York, I knew I only wanted to work at one place.

PEV: We’ve seen the TV show, “What Not Wear”. Is any of that shot here?

HM: Um, never do it in house. They always do it in studio. But we do a lot of makeover work here, a lot of makeovers. But that is only a part of what we are here at Arrojo.

PEV: You have traveled around a lot, Europe, doing the fashion shows. What has that been like?

HM: Great, really great. Trunk shows are another animal (laughs). Um, it is pretty much like guerilla warfare kind of attack. You show up with the models, the clothes, and you just basically recreate what was on the runway or change it up for what they want to do in that particular city.

PEV: That just seems so chaotic – backstage with the models. I mean literally the clothes are just flying and people are running around everywhere.

HM: That is really with runways and trunk shows and I love it. You have your main idea when you get there but that always changes to whatever substance you are doing it on.

PEV: Do you like the more in house, studio work like here, or the crazy runways?

HM: Right now I am really in house and adapting to that culture but I really want to get back out there and do that.

PEV: Recently coming to New York, what has been your favorite part?

HM: The people. I actually find everyone here absolutely lovely. Which is not something you hear too often (laughs). I haven’t had one problem here. Really, it’s been wonderful. I come from a very chill amazing place being the west coast and I really don’t find it all that different here. Maybe it’s what I put out, I don’t know (laughs).

PEV: What do you miss the most about Vancouver?

HM: Organic… Ocean, mountain, sun, sky.

PEV: Is there something here that you can’t find back west?

HM: A lot. Lots of progression. The lifestyle, very fast paced, which I like. You can’t find that back there.

PEV: How many clients do you usually see in a day?

HM: 11-12. I’m still building so it varies.

PEV: What are currently the style people are wearing nowadays?

HM: Right now you are dealing with a lot of short, modern, slightly deconstructed shapes, which is very much our thing. I think our culture has helped with that. I think that a lot of people are taking a lot more risks and that is great. A lot of asymmetry as well.

PEV: When you’re not in the studio, what can we find you doing?

HM: You can find me at my favorite wine bar, kicking around business ideas, from PR, to marketing, to things like this. Going to galleries and shows. I like going to a lot of galleries.

PEV: What designer today do you think has the best feel for what is going on in today’s pop culture?

HM: I’m going to have to tell you… two that are affecting pop culture and the trickle down syndrome; Galliano and Karl Lagerfeld. For me, they do have their ear to street and keep a style of their own. But Galliano especially, has a very whimsical and fantasy which affects popular culture.

I think the most important people you want to watch; Yoshi Amamoto. He will always be on top, he will always be a classic but also bending what he does.

PEV: In your opinion, what is the worst hairstyle of all time? Please say the mullet.

HM: (Laughs) I’ll say the mullet but it’s got to be that small town, trucker mullet. It can’t be that cooler mullet that you see on the Eastern Berlin kids. You gotta say that old school mullet; guy walks out, pants down, ass showing, super short on top and way too long in the back (laughs). That is it!

PEV: What do you think is the biggest trend in New York, regarding fashion?

HM: Individuality. I would have to say individuality. Trying to customize yourself. Everyone wants to reflect who they are, no matter what it takes. I think you see some mistakes that way but then sometimes it works. When you are dealing with below 30th (street), you are dealing with personality.

PEV: So, what’s next for you?

HM: Next for me is getting used to my new pace. Once I’ve mastered the new pace in my life then I’ll be able to see the next progression. But I want to start blending hair and exploring the business side for me personally. I have a great mentor that has done really well at that. I just need to find my own voice, my own thing. Whenever you move somewhere new, you have to adjust first, and then move on (laughs). It’s pretty much where it’s at. I just want to do more conceptual things with people in different industries as well as mine. I think there is no longer the day of “me-me-me”. I think we are moving towards collaboration and collaboration is where it’s at.

For more information on Hunter McLeod, check out www.ArrojoStudio.com

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1 Comment

  1. Roxanne Friesen McLeod said,

    I am soooo proud.Let me intoduce myself,i am Hunter MCleods’Mom.
    I cannot believe that a son of mine ,that was born in a far northern town in Canada and also had to work hard at life,has now brought himself sooo far.
    Thank you for posting such a great interview AND MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL and MAY WE ALL LIVE LIFE TO THE FULLEST,not just for ourselves but to touch all with a whisper of kindness and respect.LET US ALL WISH FOR A PEACEFULL NEW YEAR.
    lOVE ROXANNE

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