What Do Coco Chanel, Freddie Mercury, and Victoria’s Secret Have In Common? Edward Tricomi

by Charles Manning

How did you get hooked up with them?
Polly Mellen at American Vogue introduced us. The salon was so celebrity-oriented that you just always met these very interesting people. The first person I cut in New York City was Salvador Dalí . His eyes looked like kaleidoscopes. He always looked like he was tripping on acid. He was a really wild guy. He was very nice, I mean, very French. Very interesting.

Did you know much about fashion before you started working with Penn and Avedon?
My grandfather was a fashion designer, so as a kid growing up, I was exposed to Vogue and Bazaar and all those magazines. He was in couture gowns in New York — he was a pattern-cutter — so there was always material and gowns and things around the house. As a kid, he showed me how to cut patterns. I can make great hats too. One year, I made like 23 hats for Ungaro, which he copied and [included in the collection].

When we did fashion shows back in the day, they were all done in-house. There were no “big stage” shows. So Geoffrey Beene or whoever were small shows that were done in the showrooms. As they progressed through the ‘70s, the shows started to get bigger and bigger, and in Paris they started to become mega shows. And that’s how the whole thing really started to change.

What was Geoffrey Beene like?
He was very funny. He was like a Southern gentleman. One time, some other designer — I don’t know who it was — but we were at a party and I had sneakers on with a suit. This was in the ‘70s when a pair of sneakers, a suit, and a tee shirt was, like, my thing. So this guy says, “You shouldn’t wear sneakers with a suit,” and Geoffrey overheard him and went back to his studio and designed an entire collection with sneakers, just to rub it in his face. He was funny like that.

You’ve worked with so many amazing people.
I worked with Saint Laurent. That was around 1970. Working with Saint Laurent was an amazing thing. He would always tease me. When we would go out to dinner after, he would order pigeon and say, “Eddie, Eddie, hamburger!” I’m from Brooklyn and he liked my New York accent, so he would go, “Eddie! Hamburger!” and I would go, “No, no, no, that’s pigeon. Gimme that pigeon!”

I worked, once, with Coco Chanel. I hardly interacted with her — she was very elderly at that point — but I remember sitting at the top of the stairs and watching her. I just sat there and took it in. It’s an amazing thing. It was very special.

I got to work with Helmut Newton and Deborah Turbeville — the most iconic photographers in the world. I worked a lot with Deborah. She was like the John Lennon to my Paul McCartney; she was my art partner. She passed away three years ago, and there’s nobody since then who can replace her. Nobody shoots like she did. Deborah was the first photographer to shoot distressed backgrounds. Prior to her, Avedon and Penn, all those photographers, would shoot clean. Deborah shot in abandoned buildings, everything crumbling and so on. Her work was heavily texturized, so the hair became texturized too.

You still spend a lot of time working with clients in your salons too, right?
Yes. We have 23 salons around the world and each week, I’m at a different salon — two days at The Plaza, one day in Greenwich, then another day on Madison or downtown. It’s like Where’s Waldo! Sometimes I have to get my assistant to remind me what salon I’m in. And I teach all my people personally every Monday. It’s important.

What do you think are some of your most iconic looks?
I did the hair for the first Victoria’s Secret shows. We created that waved-back look for all the angels and it’s still the look. It hasn’t changed in 30 years.

I call it my Forrest Gump thing — I’m always in very strange places at times that turn out to be key moments in history. Like, I remember the opening night of Studio 54, standing with Steve Rubell, and the fire marshal said Steve couldn’t let anymore people in. And then he told Steve, “I’ll tell you what, if three people come out, you’re allowed to let three more people in.” And Steven goes, “Who am I gonna let in?” and I say, “See that good looking couple over there? They’re dressed nicely. Let them in.” And he just stocked the place with good looking people. That’s how people started to choose who got into clubs. It was my fault!

I was also the guy who cut Freddie Mercury’s hair short. I went to his house to cut his hair and he said “I want to cut my hair short.” I said, “No, you’re a rock star. Why would you want to cut your hair short?” He said, “No, no.” So I cut it short for him. That had to have been like ’79 or ’80. He was in New York at the time and we were all going to the same places, hanging out together, and that was the look at the time. He looked good in it.

What advice would you give a young person just starting out in this business?
If you want to be great at this, you have to be really passionate about it and you have to work eight days a week. And you need to put the art first. A lot of people say, “Why am I doing this editorial for free?” And you know what? No. When other people were doing paid jobs, I was doing Vogue for $125 a day. And all those people who did those paid jobs, where are they now? I’m still around because I went for the art. I always say that money is a shadow — it is the thing that follows the art — so don’t chase shadows.

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