Things have been clipping at top speed for the hairstylist Anthony Cristiano since he resigned last year as the creative director of Elizabeth Arden/Mario Tricoci Salons. Besides managing the manes of clients in Chicago and Los Angeles, he has worked on models that have appeared in L’Uomo Vogue and Mercedes-Benz ad campaigns. He styled Beck for the cover of a CD and prepped Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher for the red carpet, and he regularly rocks locks for A-list runway projects in New York, Milan, and Paris. We booked an appointment with the hometown tastemaker to catch up.

"Because of celebrity relationships, I’m spending most of my time working in California these days," Cristiano says. "It’s hard, because my family is still in Chicago." Antonetta, his wife and muse of 17 years—"she teaches me everything about style and fashion"—lives here with their children, Simona, 7; Anthony, 10; and Luca, 11. They rack up a lot of frequent flier miles on visits. Kim Kardashian, Robert Downey Jr., Rebecca Romijn, Pam Anderson, Angie Harmon, and Jena Malone have all recently sat for Cristiano. He especially enjoyed working with Malone, who was ready to shake up her image to promote her horror movie The Ruins. "Jena’s so intellectual and free-spirited, really open to things. I thought of 1930s glamour girl Louise Brooks, and we did a short, straight bob with jet-black bangs. She looked like a modern Snow White."

For a hairstylist who works with such forward-thinking designers as Hussein Chayalan and Alexander McQueen, Cristiano’s sources of inspiration can be surprisingly nostalgic. "I’ve been studying old movies," he says. "Just saw Breakfast at Tiffany’s again—I am in awe of the hairstyles of that period. I met Audrey Hepburn’s hairdresser once; that was a truly great moment. Things really changed for hair in the 1960s, starting with Vidal Sassoon’s bob. Women stopped just ‘doing’ their hair and started to shape and cut it a lot more." Cristiano also looks to modern architecture for ideas. "I love the forms of midcentury design and think about that a lot when I conceptualize a hairstyle."

What’s next for this ambitious 43-year-old? "I’m enjoying building my brand," he says. "It would be amazing to work in film, but I need to get my SAG card first. It has also been a long- time dream to create a line of hair-care products—so much out there now is the same, and I have lots of new ideas. I know what women need."  (

Photography: Taylor Castle