When Paul Eastin met Bella Hadid, his hands were in her hair.

He was at New York Fashion Week, doing hair for the Marc Jacobs show that has now become infamous for the multi-colored dreadlocks models wore on the runway.

Those are the same dreads Eastin now keeps in his pocket at his main gig as stylist at Paris Parker Salon and Spa on Jefferson Highway. He’s worked with the company for years as both a stylist and educator. He’s also been nominated for awards for his avant garde hair work.

Spring 2017 NYFW wasn’t Eastin’s first foray into New York Fashion Week — he has worked at several different shows thorough connections from Paris Parker and Aveda. But after going for a few years, he said he began to wonder if it was worth the hundreds of dollars he ended up spending every time he went. Without cash in his pocket, Eastin found it hard to measure how successful he was each Fashion Week. He decided to cut NYFW out of his calendar.

That was until Eastin had a breakthrough moment. He said he realized that he loved going to New York and working Fashion Week, and while he wasn’t making money, he was being inspired, learning new things and meeting new people, and that was more important.

“That alone is priceless,” he said.

Getting to Fashion Week

But he wanted this year’s fashion week to be different. Eastin decided to self-fund his trip to the Big Apple, and he went so far as to not tell his company he was going. He booked his flight and reached out to connections he’d made on previous trips, hoping that someone needed a couple of extra hands for a show.
One of those connections was Joseph DiMaggio, an ambassador for Davines, a natural hair care brand, who eventually helped him get set up to work shows on Sunday and Tuesday of NYFW. Eastin didn’t know which shows he would be working, but he knew he’d be in New York until Wednesday, when he was scheduled to fly out.

He ended up doing a ready-to-wear show with Erin Fetherston, which featured ‘70s style garments like jumpsuits. On Tuesday, he did a show with threeASFOUR, an avant garde fashion collective.
“I texted my wife. She’s like, ‘No way! I’ve been following those people since they were As Four…This is going to be rad, their hair is always crazy.’”

The Marc Jacobs Audition

While at the show, DiMaggio asked Eastin when he was leaving New York. He said “tomorrow,” and DiMaggio replied “oh well…”

When Eastin pressed DiMaggio, he said:
“Randy here tells me you’re the dread guy.”

Randy, a photographer Eastin knew who was also at the show, taught a class in New Orleans several years ago. At the time, Eastin was interested in doing dreads, so when he went to dinner with Randy after the class, they talked about Eastin’s new hobby. Randy remembered Eastin’s interest and told DiMaggio about it at the show.

DiMaggio told Eastin the Marc Jacobs team was holding auditions. Though he had a fully booked day at the salon after he was due to return home to Louisiana, Eastin decided to audition alongside DiMaggio. He ended up making the cut.

But at the audition, it wasn’t made clear whether Eastin had gotten the show. He walked up to the woman running it and explained that he had a flight booked for the next day. She leaned in and said:
“I’d go ahead and rearrange my flight if I were you.”

When the time came for the Marc Jacobs show, even though Eastin was approved, he said he felt like the runt of the litter. Dozens of the best of the best in the hair world were all around him.
“I felt gunshy to be honest. It’s kind of intimidating,” Eastin said.

But he soon realized he wanted to make an impression and take his hands out of his pockets.
“I need to have my hands in hair,” he said.

Meeting Bella

He put his hands in someone’s hair, beginning to work his magic. He thought she looked familiar, so he looked at the model chart next to her.

She was Bella Hadid. A few minutes later, Karlie Kloss sat down next to her.

After taking a few minutes to freak out, he zeroed in on Hadid’s hair, along with the rest of the stylists nearby. Chaos was happening all around him backstage, but Eastin did what he was there to do. The chaos is evident from the blurred photos of Hadid, Kloss and Kendall Jenner he keeps on his phone.

To remember the event, Eastin carries a small Ziploc bag full of multi-colored dreadlocks in his pocket.
The dreads are made out of wool by a woman from Florida who has an Etsy page.

Eastin said success has always been in his mind.

“I definitely have always held the vision of doing something great,” Eastin said.

Photos by Taylor Hunter.

Editor’s Note: The print version of this story said Randy told Eastin about the Marc Jacobs audition. DiMaggio told him about the show. The error has been corrected.

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