Oribe Canales, the Cuban immigrant-turned-mononym celebrity stylist whose work typified the height of the supermodel era, died on Sunday at age 62. The legendary stylist, who was based in Miami, suffered liver and kidney failure after seeking cancer treatment in New York City last month, his husband, Zaki Amin, reported to the New York Times.
Moving to New York City in 1976, Oribe (pronounced OR-bay) built an incredible decades-long career that took off while under the employ of fellow legendary stylist Garren at the latter’s salon at the Plaza Hotel. Quickly becoming in demand for editorial work and runway shows, photographer Stephen Meisel, makeup artist-turned-mogul François Nars, Marc Jacobs, Gianni Versace, Kevyn Aucoin, Richard Avedon and Annie Leibovitz would become frequent collaborators.
Oribe opened his own salon on Manhattan’s Upper West Side in 1987, subsequently opening another on the 10th floor at Elizabeth Arden on Fifth Avenue. In 2008, he also launched an eponymous and award-winning line of hair products, roundly praised and widely used in the styling industry.
Oribe’s death has sent shockwaves of grief throughout the fashion and beauty industries, with tributes pouring in from fans, colleagues, and many of his friends and chosen family—including the many supermodels he is credited with giving career-making makeovers. Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista and Christy Turlington have all paid homage to the man they adored working with, as well as The Glow Up’s former editor, Veronica Webb who wrote, in part:
I can’t tell you how much I loved spending time and working with Oribé. Every hairdressing session began with laughter and ended in a brilliant new hairdo. Oribé, who I’ve know since I was 19, would get so freakin’ excited about doing hair his energy literally made the atmosphere in the room electric. ... Oribé’s hair gave you power like Sampson and made you feel invincibly beautiful. You are gone too soon my friend, but your talent and the memories of your friendship will live on forever. I hope the hairspray in heaven is divine.
Naomi Campbell reminisced on her long friendship with the hair maestro with a statement to Vogue, saying of her dear friend:
I first met Oribe in December of 1986. I was 16, and on set with Steven Meisel, Carlyne Cerf, and Francois Nars. From that day on, they became my chosen family in the U.S., and they remain my family until this day. It was always just great to be together. We’d work until 3, 4, 5 in the morning. We all (me, Linda, Christy) just wanted to be touched by him, transformed by him. He was a special human being, a very elegant man who never complained and was very proud and supportive of us. He made me feel protected and safe—unconditionally. He’d even pick Christy and I up for work in the morning in his jeep. We loved his jeep; it was all about Oribe’s black jeep. Above all, he could do anything—it wasn’t just bombshell beauty, he made me look like a boy many times—and he always did it with respect and the love of women. There aren’t many people like that left.
Jennifer Lopez, who credits Oribe with helping to craft the bombshell image we all came to know as J.Lo, paid tribute to the man she considers a “Latino legend,” a “hair god” and “familia” in an Instagram retrospective of their work together, accompanied by a heartfelt post, which read, in part:
We fell in love with each other. We traveled the world together. And along with Scott Barnes they helped me blossom into JLO. It was a magical and exhausting time ... And when I was tired he would say to me ... “You are gonna get up and go out there and be beautiful and fabulous bc that your job!!” We’d laugh bc that sounded crazy and then we would get to the business of doing our “job” !! He made me love the glam part of things. Bc he loved it so much and saw it as a powerful tool to empower women. He loved beauty and wanted women to feel beautiful and sexy. He loved the messiness and the imperfection and saw how interesting that was. He was a true artist.
He made me feel special and beautiful for so long.
To Oribe, who made so many women feel beautiful, and helped to continue to elevate the art of hairstyling into an art form rivaling any in a museum, we salute and thank you. Rest in beauty, Maestro.