All eyes will be on Melania Trump in the coming weeks, months, and years as she takes on her role as the new FLOTUS. And if history is any indicator (we’re looking at you, Jackie O. and Michelle Obama), the Slovenian-born former model’s style will be at the forefront. Luckily, she’s had the same trusted hairstylist by her side for past decade, and he’s invested in making sure the First Lady is well-coiffed throughout her tenure.
Meet Mordechai Alvow, who was born in Israel, raised by Turkish parents, and now calls New York home — though he might be splitting his time between the Big Apple and D.C. once his client moves into the White House. He’s already taken a hiatus from his Manhattan salon, Yarok Beauty Kitchen, to accompany Melania on the campaign trail, and has been responsible for the shampoo commercial-worthy hair she’s sported everywhere from the Republican National Convention to her interview on 60 Minutes, according to the L.A. Times.
Now Alvow is gearing up to give the First Lady show-stopping looks for the inauguration and beyond. But he maintains a sense of humility when it comes to his unexpected new role. “I have been with high-powered people most of my career. I guess I attract that,” he tells the L.A. Times. “I don’t want to say you get used to it, but it doesn’t go to your head.”
Here are five key things to know about Alvow, the nation’s new “First Stylist.”
- He met Melania at a Vogue photo shoot: About ten years ago, according to the L.A. Times, Alvow was hired to style Mrs. Trump’s tresses for a Vogue Japan spread. He tells the publication that he was enamored of her natural beauty “with no makeup and her hair in a towel,” and that the pair clicked immediately. “There was an understanding of who she was and how she wanted to look. As I was leaving, her assistant asked if they could contact me again. The rest is history.”
- He emigrated from Israel to the States to build his beauty empire: Like many Israelis, Alvow completed a stint in the army before pursuing his life’s goals. He trained at London’s Vidal Sassoon, then emigrated the U.S. at age 22, says the L.A. Times. The budding stylist landed in California, where he remained for just six months. New York City was calling his name, and shortly after he arrived he was hired by Equinox Sports Club on Mahattan’s Upper East Side. This experience would motivate Alvow to later become an entrepreneur. And now that one of his clients is about to become one of the most prominent public figures in the United States, Alvow has been elevated to something of a celebrity in his own hometown of Jaffe, Israel, where “they are going crazy,” he tells the publication. “I was already on a few TV channels. I am going there next week, and the biggest TV channel wants to do a feature.”
- He’s a staunch proponent of natural beauty products: Alvow came up with idea to launch his own line of organic beauty products after he suffered a bout of severe allergies from working with noxious chemicals every day at a salon where he no longer works. He named the line Yarok, “which means green in Hebrew,” according the L.A. Times. According to the brand’s website, the products use “a powerful blend of organic and all-natural botanicals that are consciously sourced and responsibly harvested.” Yarok Beauty Kitchen, the salon he owns in New York’ Flatiron District, exclusively uses his brand’s raw, vegan products, which are “free of alcohol, paraben, sulfates and cruelty to animals.”
- He’s very spiritual and studies Kabbalah: When asked by the L.A. Times how he’s handling his new, high-profile role, Alvow assured the publication that he’s taking it in stride. He attributes his cool head to his spiritual beliefs — particularly his study of Kabbalah, a school of Jewish mysticism also practiced by celebrities like Madonna and Demi Moore. “I consider myself spiritual,” he told the publication, saying that he and other Kabbalah devotees “learn not to get overwhelmed. We learn to take things a day at a time. We learn to share with others and that being humble is a very important quality … I have been with high-powered people most of my career. I guess I attract that. I don’t want to say you get used to it, but it doesn’t go to your head.”
- He takes his hairstyling cues from Melania’s wardrobe choices: Alvow says that doing Melania’s hair is always a collaboration between client and stylist. “At times, she will send me inspiration from images she has found that she likes, and I’ll take some of the elements and apply them. Many times, I also send her images of fashion and overall looks I like for her. Usually she knows how she wants it to look and then I execute,” he tells the L.A. Times. “Her fashion has been looking demure and chic, which is what we will work off of,” he says, when asked how her style will evolve throughout her tenure. Ditto for the inauguration. “From what I understand it is a very long day. There are ceremonies, a luncheon, parade and the ball … Perhaps [we will do the] hair up, but it’s too early to tell. The big factor will be the design of what she wears.”