Backstage at Vena Cava at the Chelsea Art Museum on Saturday, Sept. 6, celebrity hair-stylist Oscar Blandi manned a “glitter station,” decorating a model’s shiny, curly down-do with patches of glitter that looked “like a tin of glitter came and hit her in the side of the head and she didn’t know!” as one on-looker observed. Clouds of hairspray filled the air. Sophie Buhai, one of two young Vena Cava designers, told Mr. Blandi she wanted the hair to look “more wet.”
“It’s going to curl up,” he told her, assaulting a model with hairspray. He was methodically finishing each girl’s look before sending her out to the risers, where she would stand for the next hour (it was a presentation, not a show), motionless, eyes darting, as buyers and editors inspected her between sips of champagne . The music had already started, ominously.
Backstage, models rushed around in smoky eyes and Egypt-meets-Brooklyn dresses adorned with metal hardware, vamping it up for Polaroids. One model, a tall African-American girl in a black and white dress and leather leggings, said her shoe wasn’t on tight enough. Two helpers immediately dropped to the ground to fix it. The mood was frantic.
“This is actually very quiet,” observed Mr. Blandi moments later, in his thick Italian accent, having put down the hairspray. “I have my whole team here, they’re all downstairs.” He likes to be the last person who sees a model before she leaves the backstage area, and during an actual runway show, she might do so repeatedly; hence, more chaos. Vena Cava would be his only show or presentation this season; he spends much of the year traveling with famous clients.
“I’m leaving tomorrow with Faith Hill for a week and a half,” he said. “We’re promoting her new album, a Christmas album. Which in a way I’m happy, because when you work on the shows it’s crazy, you’re running around like a chicken with no head!”
He added that he’s not always on board with the visions of designers. One time, a designer he wouldn’t name “asked me to do a braid, wrap-around, kind of like Star Wars. And after I did the test I told my agents, ‘I don’t want to do it! It’s my name!’ I worked so hard to build my name and my career, and it’s not that I don’t want to do it because I’m snubbing them, but I don’t want to be known for that type of shows.”