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When Israeli hairstylist Mordechai Alvow first did Melania Trump‘s hair for a Japanese Vogue photo shoot over a decade ago, he had no idea the moment would change his life. The Slovenian-born fashion model was so impressed with the hair pro’s skills, she asked him to become her mane man. Ten years later, Alvow now finds his hands in the hair of the future first lady of the United States of America.
Now, Alvow talks exclusively to Yahoo Beauty about Melania Trump and the secrets behind her hair.
Yahoo Beauty: Tell us about the first time you did Melania’s hair.
Alvow: I was living in Florida, and my agent got me the Japanese Vogue job with Melania — and he tells me, you have to go to Mar-a-Lago! When I arrived, it was like a magical chateau in France, hidden where most people have no idea. She opened the door in a robe and her hair up in a turban. She wasn’t wearing any makeup, and I remember thinking how striking and naturally beautiful she looked.
You own the intimate, three-chair Yarok Beauty Kitchen — which is known for organic, sustainable practices — in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood. Has Melania come to your salon, or do you always go to her?
I go to her, and we often travel together too. She has a hair salon in her home, but we actually don’t really use it, because she prefers to get ready in her bedroom or living room. I’ll do her finishing touches on the go a lot, like right on the train!
How did you craft Melania’s signature look?
We’ve evolved it over time and through magazine covers, parties, events, and TV interviews I’ve styled her for. She has high cheekbones, a long neck, and a gorgeous Eastern European look, and she looks especially great with a modern take on late 1960s styles. We’re inspired by Sophia Loren, Brigitte Bardot, Catherine Deneuve, and film noir. We love to bring each other photos for inspiration. We want to make sure she doesn’t look like she just stepped out of the salon — there’s something very beautiful in imperfection.
How did Melania’s look change after her husband began his presidential campaign?
We took into account that she’ll suddenly be in the public eye in a big way. We wanted a consistent look that allowed the public to feel more connected to her. When you’re new to people and suddenly so much in the public eye, people are looking for a sense of stability of some sort. When your hair looks the same, it helps people feel like they know you — it helps people feel more comfortable. When you look different every time you’re out, it can feel like you’re less stable. Once you’re an established public figure and people know who you are and what you stand for, then I think you can change things up more.
What are the steps to Melania’s signature look?
I use my own brand, YAROK, which Melania was immediately drawn to because of my holistic approach with healthy ingredients. I had a terrible time with really awful allergic reactions on my hands to chemical products many years ago, and I actually thought I would have to change professions because of it.
Then I created my line as a natural alternative; it’s 100 percent vegan and uses organic ingredients based on food, with no alcohol. It’s made in small, fresh batches with careful attention, using pure filtered water supported by minerals and antioxidants.
I start with Feed Your Ends, which is a leave-in conditioner. It’s made from the root of beets with rosemary and lemon balm. It smells amazing, adds shine, is a great heat protector, and Melania loves how healthy it keeps her ends looking.
Then I apply mousse — Feed Your Roots — about four golf ball-size amounts that I massage into Melania’s roots to create volume. The mousse is made with organic rice powder, a starch, to maintain the lift.
I then blow-dry her hair with a round brush. Once it’s dry, I take large sections of hair and roll them with a large 2-inch curling iron. I immediately put large plastic rollers in and secure with metal pin curl pins. I spray her hair with Feed Your Hold medium-hold hair spray that is formulated with organic sugar cane for hold, and let it set.
About an hour later, after her makeup is done, I take the rollers out and massage the scalp to create blood flow and to work up the volume. To finish, I use Feed Your Style dry shampoo style powder, made with organic arrowroot, which helps create texture and separates hair strands so it doesn’t look solid and unnatural. I lightly tease the entire head and brush it out into big waves that don’t look too “done.”
Finally, Melania puts her fingers through to add personalized movement, always — like the perfect imperfection. One last spray from above and she’s done.
What are you planning for Inauguration Day?
We are working on it as we speak — I’d love to share our plans with you, but it’s still coming together. The fashion will inspire the hair. There are events over three days, from the official inauguration to the glamorous ball and their first official White House photos that must look like more casual, “at-home” shots.
For all of it, we’ll need to consider: What time does she have to be ready, how long do we want it to take, how long do we need to push the look to stay? And we want her to look current but not overdone. That said, anything I do will consider her personal style, her sense of fashion, and her new role as first lady. Melania is true to herself, and I respect that.
What do you and Melanie talk about when you’re doing her hair?
Look, I’m sure you know there is so much negativity out there, and practicing something more positive helps with the stress. We talk about Kabbalah all the time — it’s been my faith since 2001 — as well as the energy of the week and the alignment of the stars, and what it could all mean. It helps keep us sane. In Kabbalah, we learn that we are chosen to do certain jobs for more than just the obvious. Perhaps there is a bigger purpose of me being in this position and styling her hair. Only time will tell.
Of course, we have to ask what you think about President-elect Donald Trump’s hair.
He’s very particular about doing his own hair! Something that is very inspiring to me about him is that he believes in what he believes, and no one can change it. That part of him connects very much to Melania. She is also her own person, with her own beliefs. And he goes into any room, and he’s like, I’m here! And I have to tell you, he’s very fun to be around on a private, personal level.
Do you plan to move to Washington, D.C., to do Melania’s hair in the White House?
We’re taking it a day at a time. For now, she’s not moving until at least September because she wants Barron to finish the school year in New York. I know she’ll be very busy, and we’ve spoken about her taking a big role and being very involved as first lady. So we will cross that bridge together as it comes.