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April 24 2014

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A Cut Above

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We love a good, dishy, beauty read, so when we recently caught wind of Upper Cut: Highlights of My Hollywood Life (Simon and Schuster), by stylist-to-the-stars Carrie White, we immediately got our hands on a copy. The book chronicles White’s rise, fall and ultimate resurrection as a legendary coiffeur beginning in the 1970′s—the heyday of hairdressing—when celebrity stylists were as desirable a commodity as the stars whose tresses they tended to. White trained under Vidal Sassoon and clocked time at those other star-magnet SoCal salons of Gene Shacove and Richard Alcala—who, along with White, served as the inspiration for Warren Beatty’s classic turn as George Roundy in the 1975 flick Shampoo. White’s claim to fame? She was a woman first, and a hairdresser second. While it was typically the male stylists who were gods (partially because of the, er, after-hours attention they paid their female clientele), White managed to cut her way to the top by relating to clients as a woman, who knew how women wanted to wear their hair. Elizabeth Taylor, Vanessa Redgrave, Julie Christie, Bette Midler, Barbra Streisand and Sharon Tate all sat in White’s chair before she lost it all to heroin’s powerful hold. Now, more than twenty years sober, White is back on the celebrity styling circuit, working with Brad Pitt, Sandra Bullock and Naomi Campbell. While her book is a focused study on one woman’s successes—and excesses—in the high-powered hair industry, White offers a mesmerizing lens into the lives of the bold-facers that called Hollywood home in the sixties and seventies as only a hairstylist could; everyone knows that the salon floor is where all the best gossip happens.

Photo: Courtesy of Simon and Schuster

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