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08-06-2013
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Maury Hopson - Hairstylist

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"Maury" known to the stars of stage, screen and too many supermodels to mention tells Health and Beauty Editor, Betsy Schaper about adventures from his earliest childhood days in Texas to assisting super-stylist Kenneth in NYC, to ultimately working on the hair of such legendary icons as the late, great Elizabeth Taylor.

Interview created by Betsy Schaper

Photographs by ChiChi Ubiña

I am a native born Texan, however, my parents said that when I was toddling around at age 4, I announced: "When I grow up, I'm going to live in New York City." No one knows where I learned about New York or what had influenced me, but there you have it....my mind was made up before I was 5 years old. I went through the usual routines of High School and attended University of North Texas, starting the year it was named by Playboy as the "Number One Party School in America." Far be it from me to be a party pooper, so I was brought home by my parents when my grades took a dive.

Living at home and working for my father was not the best idea, but it was the only choice I seemed to have. One day, I went to pick up my mother who was having her hair done at Olive Dyke's Beauty Shop and while waiting for her, noticed that doing someone's hair didn't seem so hard, and it was much more interesting than unpacking merchandise, stocking shelves, washing windows and sweeping the floors at my father's store. So, with Olive's encouragement, I set off for El Paso and enrolled in beauty school.

My first job was in a salon in Houston, where I had considerable success and built quite a nice clientele. But I would read Glamour and Vogue and the hair I was seeing in the magazines was not the hair I was styling. It was the early 60s and "Swinging Hair" was the rage. The man creating that was Mr. Kenneth in New York, he of the Jackie Kennedy bouffant, Marilyn Monroe's tumble of blonde locks and Babe Paley's masterful haircut. I studied every photo in Glamour and created reasonable facsimiles. The Houston gals lined up for this revolutionary look.

It wasn't enough for me. So I quit my job, packed my little MG-TD convertible, drove to New York, walked into the Kenneth Salon, which was a ravishing five story townhouse on East 54th Street and managed to get a job as Kenneth's assistant!

That is essentially when my career began. It was an amazing salon to work in. There was nothing like it anywhere in the world. First of all, it was decorated by the great American decorator, Billy Baldwin. Every famous woman in the world passed through those rooms on a daily basis and it made for some rather unique situations. The second day I arrived at work, Kenneth's secretary handed me an Hermes attaché case and said, "Make sure all of the equipment is fresh and organized and take it to Richard Avedon's studio, where Kenneth is shooting a cover for Vogue." I did my best blasé face and heard my voice make an audible squeak similar to the one made by Dustin Hoffman as Anne Bancroft seduced him in "The Graduate."

When I arrived at the Avedon Studio, a guy bounded off the set and said, "Hi, I'm Dick"....and I stammered something unintelligible and he pointed to the dressing room. I couldn't believe I had just bungled a first impression with Richard Avedon! I don't think he ever forgot it either. Kenneth arrived and looked at me like he had never seen me before while he and Dick and the Vogue editor Gloria Schiff, chatted and laughed about all kinds of people and places I didn't know.

I went to the dressing room area and laid out all of Kenneth's brushes, combs, and everything needed to work on the model, praying that I had not forgotten anything. The model was an incredible German Girl named Edita Dusla whose neck was as long as my arm and once she finished her makeup and Kenneth tacked about five hairpieces on her head; I was stunned at what I was witnessing. It was about this time that my bell had been rung and I knew I needed to work in a studio, and not the salon. So, anytime I spent with Kenneth on photo shoots, I absorbed every detail and learned everything I could from this privileged vantage point. In time, I started being sent to shoots at the studios if Kenneth could not be there. Salon hair and photography hair are two different techniques completely. After a few years in the salon, I decided to freelance and resigned from the Kenneth Salon. When I did, Kenneth was upset with me, but we remain friends today.

At that time, in the late 60s, models did their own hair and makeup for regular magazine photo sessions. It was only when a photograph was going to be a cover that hair and makeup professionals were called in....usually people who worked in salons and were rewarded with a printed credit for their work. This was good for the salons and certainly good for individual stylists...it implied endorsement by the magazine. My name had appeared many times in Glamour, Vogue and the other Conde Nast publications, like Brides and the now extinct Mademoiselle. The different photo shoots had given me invaluable experience with the most famous photographers during that time. Other than Avedon, I spent many days in the Irving Penn studio, had some delicious times with the great Helmut Newton, traveled extensively with Patrick Demarchelier, Chris Von Wangenheim, Peter Beard, Horst, Hiro, my dear friend, Bruce Weber, and a very long successful collaboration with Francesco Scavullo, famous for making Cosmopolitan covers things of sexy beauty that sold like no other. Top ranking models like Christie Brinkley, Janice Dickinson, Jerri Hall, Brooke Shields, and an array of others considered it prestigious to grace the cover. With Way Bandy doing the makeup and Sean Byrnes styling them, they were always knockouts. From the years of working as part of that team, I came in contact with dozens of famous women that I might not have met in a salon situation....women like Cher, Raquel Welch, Bernadette Peters, (who I convinced to let her curls out instead of straightening), plus Barbara Walters, Mary Tyler Moore, my dear friend, Sigourney Weaver and of course, Elizabeth Taylor.

There have been a lot of "beautiful babes" in my life. During the time I was working at Kenneth's, I had a wonderful bond with the editors at Glamour. We had some terrific trips to Sweden, Paris, Ireland and many of the Caribbean Islands. There was an especially memorable trip the first time I worked with a young, fresh from California beauty, named Cheryl Tiegs, who became one of my closest friends, to this day.

In planning the trip, the New York editors were searching everywhere for a new blonde to pair with a well known dark beauty, Ali MacGraw. A photograph of Cheryl on the beach in Seventeen Magazine caught their eye and she was booked, sight unseen, and flown directly to St. Thomas from her home in California. We all flew from New York and met her there for the first time. She was just 19 years old, and could never have known that all of the doors to an amazing career as one of the world's most famous models were about to open. We got three covers with her on that one trip, which was very unusual. She and Ali were such a great contrast with each other in all of the fashion shots. Ali was very generous with Cheryl, giving her lots of East Coast savvy tips on everything, including sharing her clothes, since this was Cheryl's first trip to the Caribbean and the few things she had packed were wrong for that climate. I will always remember with great affection how sensitive and caring Ali MacGraw, the epitome of "cool" from the East, was to that unsophisticated, lanky beauty from the West, Cheryl Tiegs.

A Vogue cover has always had a lot of cache in the fashion world....not that they are much different or any better than any of the hundreds of fashion magazines on the newsstands, but there is a status that they imply. When a model is shown on a Vogue cover, it is the magic wand for her career. It seems to say that she has been endorsed by the top of the top and she becomes pursued for big advertising campaigns that reap all kinds of rewards. It is also a very good feather in the cap for the photographer, hairdresser and makeup artist. Those little credits printed on the inside are extremely important to everyone who worked on the picture, as well as the manufacturer who supplied the clothing.

Maury and a collection of his magazine cover shots
My first cover, which is still one of my favorites, was done during a ten-day trip to Barbados in the late 60s. It was a rather difficult shoot because we moved so many times around the island, chasing the best light....which has been a theme for much of my life. After returning to New York, the editor on the shoot, called to tell me that Diana Vreeland and the other powers that were, loved all the fashion pictures and that we had also gotten the cover! It was the best news. Even though I had done covers for other magazines, this was my first one for Vogue! I had to wait three months in anticipation to finally see it on the newsstands. Ironically, it was one of the most daring choices, since I had added a neon lime-green dynel hair piece to a high, sleek chignon. And the editor borrowed my shirt to put on the model, since it was just the right shade of purple for color contrast. When I bought the magazine the first day it hit the stands, I studied the cover for a few seconds, and immediately went to the inside pages, excitedly searching for my name. It was not there. It was nowhere to be found. Due to an error, I had been left out, as well as the manufacturer of my purple shirt. I was crushed. The editor was mortified. She could not explain how it had happened and sent me a basket of flowers. I still love the cover and fantasize that maybe someday Lady Ga Ga while thumbing through some old Vogues will become inspired by it.

After arriving in New York in the mid 60s with no real direction or plan in mind, I have been very lucky the way things unfolded. Since the profession of Freelance Hairdresser did not exist, there was no standard for which to strive, nor an example of what my career could be. I merely made myself available to the opportunities as they presented themselves, never knowing if choices were right or wrong, good or bad.

My guileless timing seemed to always be favorable, as wonderful people and places have constantly been in my path. And I have a great appreciation for talent and the courage to pursue it. One of the most remarkable people in my life and someone who had enormous impact for me professionally was the late Way Bandy, who was the premiere makeup artist during the 70s and early 80s, until his death in 1986. Way unquestionably established the highest standard possible with his talent and artistry and became very famous for that. His first book, Designing Your Face, was an enormous success, so much so that it was #1 on the New York Times best seller list for 20 weeks straight, the first time any book about makeup had even been on the list.

Through him, I learned so much about beauty, nutrition, self-discipline, generosity of spirit, and to be fearless if you need to defend your principles. It was through Way, that I met Elizabeth Taylor, a kindred spirit in so many ways. When his first book was published, a magazine asked him whose makeup he had never done but would love to do and he said, "Of course, Elizabeth Taylor, but I know that is not possible." Well, it was possible...They somehow got word to her and she said yes. Since Way and I were such a team, I was included in the deal made for Way to do her makeup and Francesco Scavullo to photograph her for the magazine. And that was the beginning of a relationship with Elizabeth that was one of the most significant and cherished in my life. Her death this past year has left a gaping hole in my heart, much like the one Way left 27 years ago. Both had complete originality and can never be replaced. And one of the main things I miss is the fun. There was always a good reason to tease each other, which we did incessantly. Elizabeth's maid used to say that the three of us were like a litter of puppies when we were together. Besides the silliness, we could also get into spats that were over and done so easily. When you are that close, it is okay to lose the argument - because you never lose the love. It was our "risk-free sport."

Not all the women I have worked on over the years have been models or movie stars. I have traveled around the country for magazines and done makeovers on "real" people, housewives, students, sports figures and career women. One of the common denominators through all ranges, no matter what age or race is that they share similar hair questions. Sometimes, the biggest hurdle is convincing a person to stop hanging on to the hairstyle that they had in high school or college. It's hard to give up something that brought one so much success in one's youth and to admit that it is no longer your best look, whether it is about aging or just being more modern. A lot of hesitation is based on previous disasters and the fear of having another ruinous haircut. If your hair looks the same way now that it looked in your high school or college yearbook, it is time to get some help. One of the biggest mistakes is avoiding trims, which should be every couple of months, no matter how long your hair is. In fact, the longer it is, the more diligent you should be in maintaining regular visits to the hairdresser. Hair is like a garden that needs to be pruned to keep it healthy and strong from the scalp to the ends. I find myself becoming annoyed with some women who hold onto long hair, even though the bottom dwindles to nothing but long thin splits. Convincing a person to cut this off is sometimes a psycho-drama, even with glaring evidence that these strands are fooling no one and it is simply "fake length." As has been said, "Denial is not a river in Egypt."

If stranded on a desert island, I think one would be fortunate to have a wide tooth comb and a favorite conditioner. The wide tooth comb is necessary for gently getting the tangles out of wet hair (always starting at the bottom back) and a leave-in conditioner to help protect from the sun's harsh rays. It would also be great if your hairdresser was in the same life-boat so that you could have those locks trimmed occasionally, in case help is a little slow finding you at sea.
www.fairfieldcountylook.com

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US Vogue June 1981
People Are Talkin...TV Sex-The New Formula...
Photo Helmut Newton
Celebrities Linda Gray, Victoria Principal, Tanya Roberts, Susan Howard & Charlene Tilton
Hair Maury Hopson
Makeup Alberto Fava


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US Vogue February 1981
Photo Richard Avedon
Model Kim Alexis
Hair Maury Hopson
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US Vogue November 1982
Fur: A Wonderful Wildness
Photo Irving Penn
Models Leslie Winer & Kelly Emberg
Hair Maury Hopson & Garren
Makeup Alberto Fava & Vincent Nasso



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US Vogue May 1974
City Fare: The Best Looks in Years
Photo Mike Reinhardt
Models Charly Stember & Jennifer O'Neill
Hair Maury Hopson & François
Makeup Uncredited



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US Vogue May 1974
The 1-2-3 (4-5-6) of City Summer Dressing
Photo Oliviero Toscani
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Hair Maury Hopson & François
Makeup Uncredited


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US Vogue May 1974
Summer Country Smash! Pt.1
Photo Arthur Elgort & Patrick Demarchelier
Models Beska Sorensen, Shelly Smith, Shelley Hack & Lisa Taylor
Hair Maury Hopson & Rick Gillette
Makeup Rick Gillette



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US Vogue April 1975
Photo Francesco Scavullo
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US Vogue April 1975
Beauty Now: Beauty That's Good For You
Photo Francesco Scavullo
Model Margaux Hemingway
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US Vogue April 1975
Beauty Secrets of the Stars: How They See Themselves
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Vogue Patterns: The Shirt That's Soft as a Blouse / The New Smaller Sweaters
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