The following feature appears in the August 2016 issue of NYLON.
Trained in nearly every medium from paint to woodwork since the age of five, Illy Lussiano is more than a hairstylist—she’s an artist. She credits her mother (a “little Italian woman” who taught her how to braid) for her pride in her naturally curly hair—and for allowing her to chop and style her Barbie dolls’ hair as a child. It wasn’t until she was 19, frustrated with her job in visual merchandising and too attached to her paintings to sell them, that she decided to channel her natural knack for coiffure into a career. That meant attending hair school during the day and working until midnight for nine months, and assisting hairstylists for three years. “I had to be really honest with myself and say, ‘If you’re going to do this, you need to be as serious about this as a doctor is about getting through med school,’” she says.
Her determination surely paid off: Lussiano’s creations (which can be as simple as a pixie cut or as intricate as dyed dreadlocks styled in an updo) have been featured in campaigns for Kith, Alexander Wang, and Balmain, in publications like Vogue and GQ, and on stars like Naomi Campbell and Vic Mensa. She’s even showcased her talent before an audience at Manhattan’s Museum of Arts and Design. And she’s eager to take advantage of opportunities to educate others, especially about styles that are typically done on textured hair. “People will compliment my hair, but they wouldn’t expect some information after,” she says. “There’s a backstory to this.” Here, she gives us that backstory on some of her favorite styles.
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