thesalting: when did you first move to NYC? where are you from originally?
matthew monzon: originally from a suburb of Los Angeles, I moved to NYC in 1992. I was 22 following a fairly new love. (but that is a whole other story!) I had to go back to beauty school because I hadn't been licensed long enough in california. so, it was like a refresher to take my test for my NY cosmetology license. I got a job assisting at bumble and bumble and was doing well, but things didn't work out and I ended up moving back to california.....san francisco, the end of june of the same year. I had a great time in san fransisco for 5+ years. I had a fairly lucrative career happening and I figured I have to give NYC another attempt. I moved back in october of 1997 and have been here ever since.
ts: what was your very first professional job styling hair?
mm: working with my mentor who was my hairdresser from my junior and high school days. it was the 80s and we definitely had some fun with those looks. I was assisting her til one day they gave me a walk in: a sink or swim moment. she became a client right until I decided to spread my wings and take flight.
ts: how many fashion shows would you say you've worked on in your career?
mm: I moved to New York to experience fashion week. I would say I have done about 200-225 shows over the course of my time in NYC. I have most of my credentials saved. someday I may count them to give a more accurate answer!
ts: first fashion show? first model you styled?
mm: I hate to tell you, but I honestly don't remember my first show. I want to say it was a small show for a small designer and the show was at the limelight. but my brain doesn't remember the details. but the energy backstage at any fashion show big or small has always been a thrilling environment that sparks imagination.
ts: it seems your hands have worked on/with every mega-watt star in our time. have you ever been intimidated or star-struck? may we ask by whom?
mm: I have been extremely fortunate to have worked with many major celebrities since shifting from editorial to celebrity. it was 2006 and I have to say I was definitely star struck when I met and worked with Toni Collette at the sundance film festival (little miss sunshine). I was such a fan of her work and quite nervous, but she made me feel so appreciated. that has turned into a long working / much cherished relationship.
ts: most inspiring hair editorials/ moments?
1. 1997: assisting jimmy paul for italian vogue/ steven meisel. it was a 4 day shoot with all of the models of the moment: karen elson, maggie rizer, erin o'conner, jade parfitt, missy rayder, kristin owen and others. pat mc grath and team on make up. the set was simple and the music was very dark and somber. mr meisel really created such an inspiring environment to fully create the vision and the emotions he was trying to capture. it was one of the most inspiring shoots that I was fortunate to be a part of.
2. versace jeans: assisting jimmy paul / steven meisel. naomi campbell, caludia schaffer, stephanie seymore, nadia aderman, giselle bundchen, elsa benitez, bridget hall, markus schenkenberg, scott barnhill and a couple other guys. I think it was just the sheer amount of the "supers" that is embedded in my mind. a true "moment in time".
ts: 3 favorite movies?
mm: my 3 favorite fashion themed movies would be: mahogany, blade runner, and orlando.
ts: who inspires you?
mm: I try to follow on instagram as many inspiring people as I can. I find that as I am getting older, I find a lot of inspiration from my favorite yoga teacher, my friends, people who garden, people I work with, the city I live in. inspiration is everywhere, you just have to take an honest look at things and life around you.
ts: what have you learned about yourself during the pandemic?
mm: the importance of taking time to care for ones self. if you are too busy making sure everyone else has what they need, the tendency is to forget to care of yourself. I still have some trouble with it, but I am getting better.
ts: favorite vacation spot?
mm: I love a warm weather/ beach vacation. I've had some wonderful work opportunities that have taken me to islands in the caribbean and hawaii, which I have returned to for vacations....someday I would like to explore the seychelles and australia.
ts: cinema/ theater or both?
mm: I love both. I have many friends who work in the movie making world. I love seeing their work "larger than life". and on the other hand, there is nothing like a live theater experience.
ts: favorite time of day and why?
mm: within the last 5 years, my favorite time of day has become the early mornings. I have a very large dog, Cooper, who gets me up and out the door before 6am. I enjoy the stillness of the city and breathing the morning air.
ts: best advice ever given?
mm: my first mentor, Mindy Hall, said to me "if you want to succeed I life you have to be willing to suffer a bit for your craft. there will always be good and bad in most situations. learning to navigate them can take you to really amazing places". this still resonates with me after almost 30 years.
ts: what is your hope for NYC in the upcoming year?
mm: the energy this city has can be so inspiring, and on the flip side, also very manic. I would love to see people, both living here and visiting, start to put simple things like kindness and helpfulness into their daily routine. I hope small businesses will be able to thrive. I hope landlords realize that small businesses allow a community to grow: an inspiring and diverse community. restaurant and store owners are a beacon of inspiration. they need to be able to follow their dreams and succeed.
ts: how do you erase hate in your every day life?
mm: by simply being helpful when asked directions, with donations toward the homeless. I seek organizations that directly help people. general kindness is something I try to practice everyday. most days I am successful. I, like most people, have days that just suck....but that day eventually ends and you go to sleep and start fresh the next morning. I would much rather be remembered for being a kind, helpful and thoughtful person, than being difficult and an asshole.