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Big characters with even bigger hair – Evanie Frausto’s hairdos pack a punch. With a penchant for exaggerated silhouettes and audacious synthetic wigs, his hairpieces bring to mind that well-coined phrase, immortalised by Dolly Parton: “the higher the hair, the closer to God!” 

Americana, French aristocracy, old Hollywood glamour, Frausto wears his references on his sleeve. Elements of characters we know and love: the Southern belle, the teen punk, the prom queen – are reinterpreted with relish, propelled into the here and now with his own unique twist.

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Genie Kausto

Despite his love for the more extreme elements of hair, Frausto is aware of not wanting to be boxed in by a ‘signature’ (“I think for me it’s not so much about having a style, it’s about how I’m feeling in the moment and expressing ideas”). Style or no style, Frausto’s confident aesthetic has ensured he is always in demand, as recent work for Fenty, Garage and Paper Magazine illustrates.

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Genie Kausto
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Genie Kausto

Alongside his session work, Frausto is one half of Genie Kausto, a creative alter ego formed together with his photographer husband George Kan. Here, Frausto has found the perfect outlet to indulge his more eccentric hair impulses. The colour-soaked images, many of which also feature the duo as a host of outlandish characters, can’t fail to make you smile. Like Frausto, they are unconventional, playful, and above all, fun.

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Genie Kausto

Growing up, when did you know you wanted to work with hair? I was broke, so I worked in a salon as a receptionist. It was a JC Penny salon in a shopping mall in Orange County – land of the shopping malls. I wanted to get out of the mall so I went to hair school – I mean I couldn’t afford to go to any other kind of school. As I started out, I realised I had lots of references to draw on – my Mexican family, and being a scene kid. As a scene kid, with Myspace and everything, hair was a massive thing. I would dye it and cut it every week – I did it for my friends too. Extensions were big, I was always gluing in my friends’ extensions – giant tumour sized globs of hair glue. I can see now that hair was a big thing for me even before beauty school.

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Genie Kausto

How would you describe your unique style? It’s hard to answer that question because I feel like I’m always trying to change it – I’m never really happy with what my style is in the moment. I think for me it’s not so much about having a style, it’s about how I’m feeling in the moment and expressing ideas. Recently I’ve been thinking how camp my style is though. I know it’s often big and colourful but recently I was like, “I’m so camp”. I don’t know why this was a surprise. 

What is your favourite type of brief for a job? I love getting a more open-ended brief, something I can add to. Rather than something that’s just telling me what to do. I like it when someone picks an artist that fits the shoot and can add to it, when they consider who they are as an artist and what new ideas they can bring. It’s a chance to be more playful and try things out – and its normally where the best stuff comes from. 

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Genie Kausto

Were you ever faced with a sudden difficult situation while on a job? Well, it may get difficult on commercial jobs because the client isn’t always happy – but I’m never too stressed about it because at the end of the day we’re just selling something to people that they don’t need. Then there’s celebrities, they can be tricky but its best just to obey their requests. The hardest moments have been trying to prepare wigs for the next day – getting a colour right – and something goes wrong and it’s getting late and all the wigs are supposed to be identical and the stores are closed and you can’t buy new dye. So, you panic and start experimenting with turmeric… to mixed success.

Do you ever get creative block? How do you keep pushing yourself creatively? Instagram has re-programmed our minds to think so fast there’s no time for creative block. Everyone’s so focused on what’s next that they’re barely aware of what’s happening now. Instead of creative block you just lose sight of purpose or why you’re doing any of this in the first place. It’s a different thing, but I find work that inspires me – music, paintings, stories – and remind myself what good work can do. 

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Genie Kausto
"Instagram has re-programmed our minds to think so fast there’s no time for creative block. Everyone’s so focused on what’s next that they’re barely aware of what’s happening now"
Evanie Frausto
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Genie Kausto

What are some of your best inspiration sources? The Greek room at the Met. Nature. Old books. (I have a great one on Leigh Bowery). My husband. He has an amazing knowledge of art things. The back shelf at the party store. Orange County housewives. Anything in life really, whatever is around. 

What would be your advice to salon hairdressers who want to take the step of becoming session stylists? Don’t look on Instagram for answers. Talk to people who’ve worked in the industry. I’d recommend assisting and learning that way instead of trying to follow the Instagram algorithm. There’s so much of this industry and parts of the job that you don’t see. Working in fashion isn’t BTS videos on your story. That’s a total façade. 

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Genie Kausto

What’s your favourite thing about working in this industry? And what is something about this industry you wish would change? I love being able to create things with people I admire and respect. I love making the fantasy and telling the story, I love the spontaneity. I love how inclusive the industry can be now too. However, I wish that Instagram followers didn’t equate to talent. I wish Instagram didn’t dictate the industry. It puts barriers up. Instagram restricts and waters down both what people want to create and what people want to look at. They literally censor things, and less obviously, the algorithms shape and influence what we see. It’s really hard for artists because art becomes numbers, it becomes followers and it becomes likes. It causes so much anxiety. And I wish that it wasn’t like that – I wish the industry hadn’t become so dependent on a platform that reduces our work down to numbers. Sure, the industry was always about money. But this is a constant line of notifications of approval or disapproval. And yet we’re forced to engage in it for our careers. 

Where would you like to see your work take you in the next few years? I’d like it to take me away to an island where I can roam free and be happy. Joking – I’m lucky that I get paid to do something I enjoy doing. So more of the same is fine by me.

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Andres Burgos
Credits

Photos Genie Kausto, Andres Burgos
Hair Evanie Frausto
Interview Katharina Lina
Words Emma de Clercq

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