Your work often makes reference to magic and ritual. Why do these themes interest you? I think my interest in what they call the world of ‘high magic’ is in the power of conviction and belief. Magic is a very real part of my life, it is something a person meditates on and it has expectation. I personally consider the fabric of hair a very magical substance. It lasts for eons, whereas the flesh disintegrates. It serves as a kind of record, a history. I hope that in the future they will be able to extract a person from the molecule, the structure of a strand of hair. I’m very in tune with that – the futuristic aspect of the material, as well as its present magic.
Could you tell me about Alchemy of Beauty? What inspired you to create this book? Well, I think when a person wants to do a book it has to really retain what that person’s quest and real interest is. I remember putting the book together and having people tell me, “why don’t you put in more of the celebrities you’ve worked with, or more things that relate to the fashion business?” And you know, I have to say that I never had great aspiration to be those things – to work with celebrities, or certain aspects of the so-called fashion business. When people say, “Oh you’re Bob Recine, the famous hairdresser, what do you think of my hair?” I say, well, I actually really don’t think of your hair. I don’t have that mind-set, of “well it should be a little bit of this, a bit of that”. Which of course is a part of me, but that part is, let’s say, the commercial end of what we do.
My interest is in transformation, in the realms of art, creation and adornment. The mystery of the power of beauty. That amazing, powerful engine within all of us that responds to the beauty of a woman, of a child, of innocence, of demonic power. It is all, I believe, the alchemy of beauty. I think that’s what my book really underscores. I want it to be able to make my colleagues in the beauty world understand that the hairdresser is far more than just a manipulator of hair. The whole area of the head is my realm and domain, it’s been my fascination for a very long time, bringing sculpture to the head.