Coiffing Socialites

Coiffing Socialites
Gonzalo Javier Cerón
Photograph by Jamie Conlan

NAME: Cerón | AGE: 45 | HOMETOWN: Houston | QUALIFICATIONS: Equally good with scissors and sweet talk / Owner and artistic director of Cerón Salon, whose clients include Phoebe Tudor, Holly Moore, and Diane Lokey Farb, among others / Has “done” Paris Hilton, Cindy Crawford, Lauren Hutton, Lisa Rinna, and Ivana Trump

• My full name is Gonzalo Javier Cerón Estrada, and when I lived in Paris, there was no problem—they called me Gonzalo. But when I got to Texas, people started calling me Consuelo, Gonzo, or Gonzalez. I couldn’t deal with it. I would call my grandma and say, “I don’t know what to do.” She asked me, “When you were a child, what did people call you?” I said, “Cerón.” She said, “There you have it: Cerón.” The Mexican hairdresser with just one name.

• I have a degree in international business and hotel administration. My whole thing was to go to La Sorbonne, so I moved to Paris. There I met Frederic Gebhardt, who was the most well-known hairdresser in the city. I totally fell in love with him and his art. I went with him to all the fashion shows and photo shoots. He did the cover of Vogue. He was doing Jacqueline Bisset. One evening I said, “Frederic, I really want to do hair,” and he said to me, “You are too old, you are fat, and you are Mexican.” That’s when this veil came down. The best thing? Revenge! I went to work for his competition, Alexandre Zouari. I would go to hair school in the morning, then work in his salon from three to ten p.m.

• Through my mentor, Jean Saberny, I met [Houston businesswoman] Francie Willis, who wanted to be blond. She offered me a job in Houston at her new salon, Urban Retreat. I called my grandmother again and said, “I don’t know what to do.” She said, “Honey, it is very easy: Do you want to be a little fish or a big fish?”

• I started out by going to events with my friend Mary Beth Aspromonte. She was getting a divorce, and out of the blue I was like Aztec Rental. Invitations a foot high! I ended up with fourteen tuxedos—three tails and everything—because I thought that if Mary Beth was wearing a different dress, I needed to wear a different tuxedo. But I found the magic niche, because now I always do whoever is chairing the museum ball or the opera ball. People see me and think, “Cerón is here,” so they don’t have to worry about their hair.

• Texas women have this style of their own. They do not have the big hair—and if they do, then good for them. They’re original. It is part of life to dress up, take care of yourself, take care of your hair, your nails.

• Some of my older clients have never washed their own hair. But the new generation is totally different. I had to come up with a way to do roots in five minutes.

• I have fired clients. If we cannot meet in the middle, or you just want to pay to see who is sitting in the chair next to you—I always say, don’t spend your money this way.

• If you are going to keep with the same hairdo, it’s not going to work. People who are so attached to their hair—they are not for me. Have fun! If it doesn’t work, so what? It grows back.

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