- Edition 9, Chapter 3 -
by Alexander Brebner
“Que bella! Me encanta!”* Andrea Baez had just walked into the photo studio after her hair was cut and colored, and her Aunt, Monica Brand, who we profiled in Edition 7, was ecstatic about her niece’s new look. Andrea was at the end of a months-long stay in New York and about to return to Venezuela where she lives (for now).
“You’ve had the same hair all your life,” said Monica, the ‘cool aunt’ who is 11 years younger than her sister, Andrea’s mother. “Although Venezuela is a quite diverse society,” Monica explains, “It is very classist, and people are fixated on ideas of beauty, and afraid to make unconventional choices. It’s the fashion to have really long, straight hair.” Andrea, however, had been plotting her liberation for some time and was hell-bent on change. “This is the cherry on top,” she said while waiting for her new color to process. “We call it the test – my first time travelling away from family. I turned 21; I had adventures and met new people; I saw so many worlds that exist all together in New York, so radically different from Venezuela.”
Andrea arrived in New York with hair down to her waist. “I am used to staying safe,” she demurs. “I cut off a few inches, and dyed the ends pink. Then a friend said, ‘I’ll cut your bangs.’ So I’ve had four hair changes – bangs were hard, an adjustment, but it was a process, and now I like change.” She is fortunate to have a creative family to support her choices; Monica and her husband are art directors with their own design consultancy, and Andrea’s mother is a fashion photographer for whom she modeled frequently, which explains her comfort in front of our cameras.
Andrea’s New York sojourn wasn’t all fun and games, but became the impetus for her own creative career. “I was an intern at my aunt and uncle’s studio, she says. “I learned to be curious, to be alert and see how big projects can come from little things.” Monica’s advice was, “If you see a magazine, open it,” spotting the book Hair Heroes on our coffee table and leafing through it.
Andrea is studying social communication in Venezuela, but is concerned about its political and economic state. “We don’t have such good schools, so I’m excited to start studying design here in the US.” Meanwhile, she took a small part of Hairstory home; aside from her new cut and color, Remy styled her hair using Undressed and sent her off with a few samples to make its international debut in the southern hemisphere. Andrea: Come visit when you come back.
*“Beautiful! So pretty! I love it!”