Hanging with the Color King


Dec. 12 2008, Published 9:41 a.m. ET

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There are single name stars – like Cher, Madonna, Sting etc. and then there are the one-name hairstyles, like “The Rachel.”

Michael Canale is one half of the team responsible for creating "Marley & Me" star Jennifer Aniston’s “The Rachel,” a cut and color that was born in Beverly Hills nearly two decades ago!

I recently had the privilege of spending an afternoon hanging out with Michael Canale at his Michael Canale salon in Beverly Hills while he brightened the locks of  “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” star Kaitlin Olsen.

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Canale has been coloring Jennifer Aniston’s notorious golden strands for 17 years! He said he first started working with famous thesbian “just before the pilot for Friends was filming.” That’s when Canale, and Jennifer’s well-known hair stylist Chris McMillan, created what would become “The Rachel.”

Canale believes ‘The Rachel” was more about the color than the cut. “It was the two chunky streaks in front that made it hot,” he said, adding, “Chris and I worked on it together. I had to make Jen’s hair look like the sun had made her blonde and I went from medium brown to blonder and then popped the front.” He’s described the color as "a caramelized golden brown in the back and tan beige in the front."

Jen’s stayed with the same color and cut pretty much since, but she’s continued going to Canale and McMillan and since Canale’s motto is, “Consistency is what I'm known for -you can only do certain things perfect one way, so you do it that way and keep it that way” Jen’s hair has pretty much stayed the same.

The only time he says he really veered from Jen’s natural do was, “For “Derailed” we did deep reddish brown.” He said that’s as far as he would go with her hair because, “A lot of times people do colors you can’t get out easily and you have to take that into account.”

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When Jen comes into the salon, the star sporting the decade’s most famous haircut doesn’t come with an entourage of security and assistants, but is “Just like everyone else who comes here,” says Canale, who explains, “Everyone here is very much a family and it’s a family environment. There are no egos here, if you have one, you can leave that at front desk.” Canale says he’s worked with all of his current clients for an average of 15 years and says, pointing to a counter lined with baby photos, that for a lot of them “I’ve watched, am watching their kids grow up now too.”

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He’s mum on whether he thinks there are any kids in Jen Aniston’s near future, but if hair coloring is to avoided in the first trimester – then she’s not, as she was just recently by Canale’s salon to freshen up her highlights.

Although Canale says Aniston’s locks are his most popular request, he says he also caters to an admirable roster of men as well. He won’t spill the beans on too many names, (cough, cough, Donald Sutherland, Nick Nolte), but says “Guys love me because nobody knows you got your hair done.” Well, except now you know these two do ;)

Beauty and Hair
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A girl with foils in her hair pipes up, “It looks like your hair grew naturally out of your head when he does it!”

Straddling to different schools of celebrity, Canale has been spending five days per month working in Washington DC since he was brought on by the Reagan administration in the 80s.

Canale says he sometimes prefers DC because, “DC has a more wholesome, neighborhood vibe, LA is the opposite.”

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When I asked whether people usually come in knowing exactly what they want or give his capable hands creative control he says, “Usually they give me creative control,” adding, “Most people come to me have something wrong with my hair and ask me fix it.”

And if they do coming in making a lot of requests, like for an oddball hair color?

 “I act like I don't speak English” Canale jokes. But, he does say, “I don’t like to do oddball things like burgundy red or anything, your haircolor has got to match the skin.

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There are usually not many things that make something look perfect.”

He said, “Fixing broken hair is the best, there’s nothing like a good challenge. It’s like an art to take things, blend them and put them back together. To make something look real is an actual art. The most important thing is to make color bring out the eyes. Natural colors make you more youthful because they make skin glow.”

Canale says the correct color can be age-defying. He confidently states, “I can knock five to 10 years off someone’s age with haircolor working off their natural color.” But,

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“If you overdo your hair color you will look 40 in your 20s,” he warns.

Although Canale preaches staying with natural shades, he doesn’t advocate necessarily going grey naturallly. “You should stay as young as you can as long as you can. If you're going to go grey you give up a certain part of your life,” he says.

Asked whether the lay person can get good color over the counter and he doesn’t have too many choice words for box jobs. He says, “It's cheaper, but as far as color build up it’s dangerous, they turn things orange and create more flaws than good.”

When not catering to a who’s who of celebrity hair, Canale devotes his time to a variety of philanthropic endeavors such as Dream Streets, a camp for children with blood disorders, he’s working on a Hispanic gala to take place in DC the day before the inauguration and he works with nuns at an assisted living facility.

Coast to coast, Canale, who says he never does house calls and sees 40 clients/day when he travels and 25/day when he’s in LA, clearly has a colorful life.


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