A Conversation with Victoria Hunter

Scott Miller Style

"I don't think there could be anything more free than painting and touching the hair."
This from a woman who is the co-founder with Larry Raspanti of Whittemore House in NYC, and insists it's not a celebrity salon despite its well-known clientele. Whittemore House is a creative outlet for editorial campaigns and fashion shoots as well as the well-styled heads of NYC. It's also the seat of hair painting perfected by Victoria and her colorists with a devoted following. A modern way of coloring hair that is a natural evolution and progression of a free organic journey. One that the child in Victoria wants to embrace in her quest to be as free as possible.

Victoria was in town February at Scott Miller hosting a hair painting master class that takes creative coloring to seamless artistic results beautifully. Our colorist, Lisa, had a little chat with her between sessions.

Lisa: There's been such an evolution in hair color and you've been at the forefront of all of that. Let's talk about this exciting movement.

Victoria: Both Larry and I are very passionate about teaching hair painting. We believe that it's the modern way to color hair. It used to be the rubber cap, then there was foil … and hair painting is not just a technique. It's not a fad or something that's going to come in and then leave. Michael (Gordon from Bumble and bumble) sent me to Paris a long time ago to learn the basics of bialage techniques. But then over the years, both Larry and myself have developed other ways. It could be as natural as you want. As bold as you want. The sheer freedom of artistic expression means clients are experiencing creative hair color in wonderful beautiful ways.

From doing things together, you come up with different ideas. You feed off one another. I think that's very important. When you're developing something, it's natural that the way one person sees something is different from the way another sees it. Even if you're two creative people.

Larry thinks more architecturally and is very thoughtful in his approach. I'm more intuitive … I just feel it. We have two other colorists in the salon now. They're work is beautiful as well. It's so great to be inspired by them. It's wonderful to be in that energy and that's one thing we've always wanted to create. An energy of creative like-minded people that could work together and inspire one another. Hair painting has really evolved because of all of us working together and feeding one another. It just makes everyone's work better.

L: You guys really focus on fashion. You're a fashion salon. Not a celebrity salon. Elaborate on this.

V: We've never really focused on that (celebrity salon) and we've never really wanted to. The work that we do, because it's mostly editorial and outside of the salon, it's only natural that the models come in to us. We do all the models for fashion week and we do them for campaigns and editorials. So that's where we get our creative outlet. You can't really be creative on a celebrity anyways because they all have to look a certain way. And it has never really interested us anyways like the rest of the world. We have a rather large model clientele but that's how we want it because that the kind of work we want to do.

L: I've been in your salon before watching you do your clientele in the normal context of your day. You've got some really beautiful interesting women. Intellectuals, artists, different ages, all with great looks, very individual. I didn't see anything that was trendy, just very modern. These look like women who really have come into themselves and you are a perfect extension of that.

V: Well, thank you! Ohhh, I love you. Well you know, a very dear dear friend of mine, Helen Miller said to me when Larry and I were starting our salon, "what you create and what you put into the salon is what you will get." I always think of her saying that because it's just so true. There's also what shouldn't be in the salon because we've created that energy and if something negative comes in, Whittemore House will flick it out. It's almost like you set up this force field and the staff that wants to be there and support what it is that your vision is, they stay. The people who don't support that, they just have to go because you just can't sustain them being there. The energy won't allow it. It's the same with the clientele. It's fantastic what you bring in … the energy that you want, the people that you want. Scott and Helen were so excited for us and they had such good advice as they always do.

L: So you just came off two really big ad campaigns for spring 2012. Tell us about that.

V: Yes, Louis Vuitton and Prada. It's always exciting to do that kind of work. Guido [Palau] is the hair stylist on the shoot and Steven Meisel is the photographer. So the work obviously is always outstanding and it's fun to do that kind of work. It also gives you that variety in your work, you know. To be doing something behind the chair and then to be doing this kind of fantasy work. The campaigns were great, lots of fun, fresh spring colors. [The hair] was very pale white blond. Guido asked for a very modern blond. To me, that meant something very modern and crisp. Not an ashy feel to it because that would have felt old. Other colors for spring are clean blonds, clean golds, very rich brunettes … just something behind it that is very rich but all very clean and crisp.

L: You're awesome.

V: You are!

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