Even those who reach a certain level of success sometimes remain unsure of their true talent — and whether they’re worth all the hoopla they generate.
That can even be said of hairstylist-to-the stars, David Babaii, who in just seven short years of shorning and styling locks has risen to a level where he can say his latest gig was primping Angelina Jolie’s hair for the Academy Awards. Babaii is her regular hairdresser, as well as that of Kate Hudson (whom he partners with on a hair care line, David Babaii for Wild Aid) and Uma Thurman. This week he is in Japan styling Nicole Kidman’s hair for an ad campaign and, because of the time difference, he’s feeling a little loopy.
But not too frazzled to talk about an endeavor that will bring his talents to the masses — at least to those who can afford $600 or so for a haircut with him. While a firm price and a schedule is still being sorted out, Babaii has indeed signed on to begin manning a chair at the famous Neil George salon in Beverly Hills, the salon where paparazzi camp outside to snap photos of regular clients Reese Witherspoon, Heidi Klum, Mary-Kate Olsen and Lindsay Lohan. His stint will start in April.
Neil Weisberg, co-owner of the five-year-old salon, said he and Babaii go back to when the two briefly worked together at Chris McMillan’s hair salon in Los Angeles. Weisberg recalls that Babaii, who was just starting out, worked there for about four weeks, and then his career started an upward trajectory and he never returned.
“He was just messing around [cutting hair in the salon] and lo and behold he became this huge guy,” Weisberg said. “We were like, ‘This guy is unbelievable.’ Most people start as an assistant, then get clients of their own and then hope to get some magazine work. He just took off.”
The salon world is a small one, but it will be a new world to Babaii, whose career has since been “limited” to fashion shoots, red-carpet events and magazine covers. Challenges, he said, await.
“What if I’m not as good as the people I’m around?” he asked nervously, explaining that on a recent visit to the salon he was amazed by what he saw. “These people are artists. They are brilliant. I want to be inspired like that,” Babaii said.
Weisberg, however, thinks Babaii may provide some inspiration to some of the newer stylists at Neil George.
“It refreshes us a little bit and gives some of the younger hairdressers someone to watch,” he said.
Babaii may certainly inspire the charitable side of his soon-to-be colleagues: He said he is donating 100 percent of his cutting fee [after costs to the salon] to Wild Aid, a cause that looks to help save endangered species.
His hair care line, which is scheduled to ship to about 30,000 U.S. mass stores this year, will also be sold at Neil George. Babaii and Hudson are currently in litigation with manufacturer 220 Laboratories, which claims it helped the duo develop the line’s active ingredients, but ultimately were not the makers or marketers of it. Babaii could not comment on the matter but representatives from his company issued the following statement: “We believe that the claims made by 220 Laboratories in this lawsuit are completely frivolous and without merit. Their implication of Ms. Hudson, who has never spoken or met with any representative of 220 Laboratories, further evidences that this suit is motivated by their desire for publicity. We are confident that we will be vindicated when the facts are uncovered.”
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