What is it like to create hairstyles that are then adopted as trends around the globe? Hairstyles that can be seen in international publications, on Hollywood celebrities and models at New York Fashion Week? Antonio Corral Calero knows the answer.
The current global creative director of Moroccanoil has worked in many cities as a model, make-up artist and hairstylist, including his hometown Barcelona (where he collaborated with the renowned hairstyling master—Luis Llongueras).
Currently based between New York and Montréal, he caught up with FAJO to share his story.
HANNAH YAKOBI: Tell me a little bit about your family. I was reading somewhere that growing up with several sisters, you were always inspired by their make-up and hair, constantly playing with it and experimenting. What was that experience like?
ANTONIO CORRAL CALERO: I have three sisters, I’m the middle boy. Many of my family members have massive, curly hair—you know, the Spanish have that massive, curly hair. My parents also come from the south of Spain, so we have that darker hair.
I didn’t understand why sometimes my Dad got a bit upset with me—he wanted me to be a lawyer and go to university, but I decided that I wanted to go to an art school, and my background is actually in clothing design, hair and make-up. I grew up touching my sisters’ hair and playing with it. I remember at Christmas they would all get Barbies and I had an obsession with cutting bangs, so I used to cut every doll’s bangs! I don’t know if you remember, but for some of the Barbies if you cut their bangs sometimes the hair would go all the way up. And my sisters were super upset after they saw that. But it gave me the first feeling of, you know, how the hair would feel in my fingers, it was more than just cutting it. It felt good in my hands. And then I would just play and I was drawing a lot, I used to do a lot of profiles and a lot of shapes of hair. I still have some of those drawings and paintings.
Do you go back and look at them?
Yeah, and it’s funny! Because I was quite amazed at the volumes and the shapes. Sometimes, it’s an instinct that develops, but you don’t know it until maybe 30 years later. Then you go back and say, ‘Wow, it is a lot more than what you see or perceive.’ You cannot describe it, but it’s there and it feels good.
You also did make-up for a while.
I did, on-and-off for two or three years. Sometimes I was doing shoots, working with a make-up artist and I didn’t like what they were doing. I thought, ‘Oh my God, what am I going to tell them? How am I going to tell them?’ So I would just say, you know, ‘Do you mind if I add a little something to it?’
I like simplicity, I like freshness and sometimes that’s hard to describe to the person you’re working with because they don’t know you.
Where did you work when you were doing make-up?
One of the first jobs was in Montréal: I was the international make-up artist for Lise Watier but I was living in France. So I was working at Champs-Élysées and Galeries Lafayette.
I was the Spaniard, with a French- Canadian accent, living in France—and people were like, what? That was an amazing experience.
Then, I went to the Gucci group, YSL, I worked with MAC, I was doing a little bit here and there but I didn’t want to be in that counter at a shopping mall, it wasn’t really my thing. I wanted to do more fashion things, so I went back and started a little salon. I was doing different things to see what felt right. Also, I was growing as a human being. You know, I came to Canada when I was 19.
What brought you to Canada?
(laughs) That crazy story is my heterosexual days.
So it was a girl. (laughs)
Don’t even go there! (laughs) It was a girl, yeah. Best friend, super cool, super nice.
I wanted to learn French and English. She would come home every summer—she was a Spaniard, living in Canada, but every summer her parents would send her back to Spain. Her family were our best friends. We were friends [since about] three, and we lived in the same area in the city. My window was facing her window. So she used to come home every summer, and she would speak French and English. And I thought, ‘My God, it’s so good that you can speak Spanish with your Dad, and English and French with your cousin.’ I didn’t really understand how your brain could really capture that and I decided to go to Canada with her, live with her family, learn French and English.
We dated, we were young. I didn’t really know what dating was. But I love her, and today I still love her. Actually, last summer I walked her down the aisle. It’s an amazing friendship. Her name is Susana.
Do you still like to learn languages?
I do. I speak six now: Spanish, English, French, Italian, Portuñol—Portuguese with Spanish—and a bit of Hebrew. I think the fun thing about languages is that you can go deeper into the thoughts of somebody else because, you know, when you speak certain languages you cannot describe it the same way that you would in your own language. It’s like an emotion.
Speaking of languages, you travel all the time. What is that like?
I do. I travel a lot to Moscow—in Russia, they’re very avant-garde, very modern. I think that Russia and Japan have a lot of similarities: people are much more brave in a way of not wearing the same things all the time.
You are also often coordinating hairstyles for shows at New York Fashion Week. That’s a high-stress environment. How do you de-stress—what’s in your ‘rescue kit’?
I try to get a massage once a week, at least. I also try to do a lot of meditation, so it really helps me. I do it in the morning: I do a bit of chanting. I think what I’m trying to do in a way is to send the positive-ness to the universe, so it gets back to me.
Fashion week is crazy. You know, I’m waiting to do four or five shows, I’ve got a team of 10 people behind me, I’ve got 25 models, half-an-hour to get them ready. You’ve got people screaming here and screaming there. It’s fast, fast, fast. As much as I can meditate before, once I get to the place, I’ll have my coffee and I’m already like, ‘Oh my God, here we go.’ But I’m ‘happy-stressed.’
Speaking of creative things, what is the story behind your tattoos?
(shows hands) This is ‘Love’, which is fading. I have a lot of tattoos. I’m full. I did my chest when I was in Brazil.
One of the tattoos is from when my partner Nico and I met. [This month], we are celebrating our 11-year anniversary!
But the tattoos fade because I wash my hands a lot and I use a lot of chemical stuff—like bleaching extensions. But every time I go to a new country, I get a new tattoo.
So what hair products do you use yourself?
Now, I’m using our molding cream. We have a few products developing, so I try a lot of them and I always end up giving everything to the shops. I give them some of the brushes, and I never have any of my tools, I always give everything away. So sometimes I have my molding cream but sometimes I have given everything away and I have to put soap—like, hand soap—in my hair!
When I know that something is good I like to share it with people. I’m like that when I see someone who has a certain type of hair, and I’ve got something that is going to make a difference for it. I want to be able to pass it onto other people, you know.
They get upset at the office because I give the blow dryers and curling irons away. My assistant is like, ‘Okay, then give out little things but I cannot give you a blow dryer every single week.’ (laughs) And I say, ‘I know, but I went to a shop and they were using another brand, and they have a beautiful display. Why not give them the Moroccanoil blow dryer?’
How did your work with Moroccanoil start?
I’ve been with them since day one. I was working in a salon, I was part-time and it was three times a week. I was traveling with them, but in the end I realized maybe I should jump in full-time. It’s been very, very intense. But very fun.
I meet amazing people, I am the luckiest guy.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
People always end up looking the same, during every holiday, at every birthday. Is it because they feel secure? That’s what they are and they don’t want to take chances. I want people to be a bit more daring!