In the Kit

The New Salon from Reese Witherspoon and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley’s Stylist

A first look at stylist Cervando Maldonado’s new LA digs.

By: Katie Becker
Photography: Tristan Kallas

After you spend enough time with hair stylist Cervando Maldonado—the man behind the hair of Reese Witherspoon, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Kirsten Dunst, and Sofia Coppola, among other women whose looks we drool over—it dawns on you that he is kind of a DL hyperaware perfectionist. You wouldn’t know it right away; perfection is not something he expects of the people around him (or at least those in his chair), and his style isn’t that of the straight-laced Tom Ford type. Maldonado is VERY California: long messy hair, cute T-shirts and jeans, a classic Cali drawl you hardly hear in L.A. anymore, and a giggly personality that makes you feel like you’re walking into his backyard, not his celebrity-studded business. But now that one can visit his home turf in his newly opened West Hollywood salon, 454 North (which he opened with business partner and stylist Chris Turner-Bragg), it’s clear he likes things a certain way.

“We had the front desk, retail shelves, and front couch custom-made,” he says. “Originally we were going vintage in there, but we needed custom because it was very specific to the size.”

Maldonado’s low-key anal tendencies are most likely what explains his success. For what is California girl hair if not inexplicably perfectly imperfect? One hair legend notorious for nailing the balance was Sally Hershberger (who wielded the scissors behind Meg Ryan’s ’90s shag) and, what do you know, she was one of Maldonado’s early mentors, bringing him into the world of celebrity styling when he was working out of Jonathan Anton’s salon in his 20s.

“[Sally] likes people that are cute, and I was very cute then, and she was like, ‘Oh, I like your leather jacket,’ or ‘I like your jeans,’ or ‘I like your boots,’” says Maldonado. “She asked me to assist her, and I thought about it, and I said, ‘For sure.’ That was my first time going to New York; [it] was the late ’90s, and I flew over just to go work with her. It was my first introduction into that world and working with Annie Leibovitz and doing all of these things right off the bat—I loved it, but it was very eye-opening. I also learned that that world is very cutthroat, and that world is very direct—something I like. I mean, I love it.”

He not only helped Hershberger open her salons, but also fell under the wing of celebrity stylist Danilo, whom he also calls a mentor, working on shoots for epic occasions like No Doubt music videos. In the time since, Maldonado has worked with other hair giants in New York and Los Angeles, most recently working at the now-closed salon Goddard and Bragg (Chris’s former biz). Now it’s his turn. Just off North Robertson, behind a huge metal gate, is Maldonado’s new two-story salon, complete with a private tree-shaded front courtyard and a rooftop patio. And maybe a celeb sighting or two.

We visited the salon and asked Maldonado to tell us about his new space, the famous women with whom he works, and what he sees as the next big trend.

“I’ve been very fortunate to have actresses that I worked with for over 15 years. Most of the women I work with are very serious actresses, and they take their roles very seriously. I believe that when you do a role, the most important thing is to get fully in that role, and so they shave their head, they’ll dye their hair black, they do whatever it takes to get into that role.”

Pants, Saint Laurent; Shirt, Vintage

“We’re going to have that metaphysical pyramid outside, and we’re going to just make it an experience. I just want it to be zen, chill. People come in here and have a great time, relax, and then leave, and then tell everyone how great it is.”

“I’m very direct with people. For instance, if someone just had a baby, and they want to cut their hair off, I would say no. I say, trust me, you’re going to feel sexier if you have it long, and you can keep it off of your face.”

“I never really had any desire to open a hair salon mainly because of all of the responsibility that comes along with it. The loss of freedom. But I came here to look at it, and it was a no-brainer. It feels great. Just the way that it looks. Once I saw the place, then I opened up our mind for what we wanted. The vision started coming together.”

Shoes, Saint Laurent

“We’ve stationed the chairs so people aren’t packed in right next to each other. Everyone has their own space and there are multiple rooms, including a private room in the back, so there isn’t always a direct line of sight to see who else is there.”

“[Danilo and I] started working together, doing all of those No Doubt videos. We did a lot of them, and it was really fun. He’s just amazing. I still help him to this day. If I’m ever available and he needs me, I go. I don’t have any issues with that. He’s someone who’s just been so helpful to my career. I’m very lucky with my community.”

“Right now, I’m really into people going away from the super bleach blonde, like the real blonde, blonde, blonde look. There’s a certain look that’s been going on for a minute, and it’s always going to be in, but I think it’s always good to shift and right now what I’m really loving is more of a natural blonde. Like Lauren Hutton from the late ’70s, or like Claudia Schiffer from the ’90s.”

“My very first introduction to [the editorial] world was a huge photo shoot at Pier 59 that literally took up the biggest studio. It was an advertisement shot by Annie Leibovitz with all of these big celebrities, like Reba McEntire and Oprah, and all of these hairdressers and makeup artists that I’ve never, ever seen. It was a really big learning experience. I also learned that that world is very cutthroat, and that world is very direct—that’s something I like. I mean, I love it.”

Part of the series:

In the Kit

VIEW THE SERIES

“Getting Real”

We’re taking an honest look at love, life, and all the things that come with being an adult.

LEARN MORE
×