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Secret of the Wings: Ken Paves Q&A

Jul 10, 2018

KEN PAVES (Hair Consultant) has remained one of the most sought after and arguably the most recognizable hairstylist in the world for the past 18 years. Oprah Winfrey has called him "The big Kahuna of Hollywood hair." He has been celebrated for his work which has appeared in the pages of “Vogue,” “Marie Claire,” “Elle,” “Harper’s Bazaar,” “Allure,” “Glamour,” “O Magazine,” “Vanity Fair,” “Cosmopolitan,” “Seventeen,” “GQ,” “In Style,” “American Salon,” “Modern Salon” and many other publications internationally.

In fashion and entertainment he has created award-winning styles on the tresses of Victoria Beckham, Jessica and Ashlee Simpson, Eva Longoria, Lady GaGa, Jennifer Lopez, Celine Dion, Fergie, Eve, and Megan Fox to name a few. Dubbed by the media as the "Hottest hairdresser in Hollywood," Paves has been a regular guest doing unparalleled makeovers since 2003 on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” as well as contributing and writing for “Oprah.com.” He has also performed makeovers for “America's Next Top Model,” “The Doctor's,” “The Biggest Loser” and most recently to rave reviews on Oprah Winfrey's new network OWN. Paves starred in the reality show, “The Price of Beauty” where he and Jessica Simpson traveled around the world to discover true beauty. He has also showcased his talents on “E!,” The Style Channel, Fox, ABC and many other affiliates around the world.

Disney and celebrity hair stylist Ken PavesDisney and celebrity hair stylist Ken PavesCourtesy of Disney

Currently, Paves is part of the creative team of Simon Cowell's “The X Factor.”  Industry insiders respect Paves for his unique vision and hairstyles that incorporate innovative, confident and sexy designs. Understanding that hair is not only an accessory to his client, but also an accessory to fashion, Paves’ signature trademark is classic to modern with an impeccable interpretation of personal style.

Paves has become an industry favorite for his talent and vision, and his unparalleled dedication to his clients. His bio page for designing the looks for Celine Dion and her cast for her "A New Day" show noted that what is so great about Ken, besides his talent, is that he has never lost sight of the fact that he is in the service industry.

Paves’ success and respect as the world's most recognized hairstylist is illustrated by the international success of his line of clip-in hair extensions, Hairdo, which was created by Paves and inspired by Jessica Simpson. Launched in fall 2006, to surprising success and enormous distribution, Hairdo is sold in over 80 countries around the world. Paves’ personal beauty branding and recognition has also led him to achieve great success on QVC. In lieu of such achievements, Paves still remains selflessly passionate and dedicated to his craft, always hoping to inspire and be inspired.

Courtesy of Disney

Q:    Please tell us how you become involved in designing the unique hairstyle for Periwinkle?

KP:  It was such a surprise and very exciting. I received a phone call saying that Peggy Holmes, the director, wanted to talk to me. She was looking for someone to do live hair styling for the three-dimensional work for a new character. She and I talked and we hit it off right away.

Peggy sent me the script, so I could get to know Periwinkle. She also included some ideas of what they were looking for. The amazing animators and illustrators at Disney wanted to share that with me, and then to see what I would come up with on a live model. I remember going there and I was so excited.

I’ve always been the biggest Disney fan ever! In fact, one of my childhood dogs was named Shmickey. I thought I was getting a boy dog and his name was going to be Mickey. But it was a female, so I named her Shmickey. It was the most bizarre name ever, but I loved everything about Mickey Mouse. I loved everything that was Disney. And I still believe in all of the Disney magic.

I am so humbled by the greatness of what Disney is and what it stands for, and to think that I could offer something for the design of one of the characters was amazing. But then again, I thought that I really fit in well, because I do know so much about Disney, and the look of the characters. Peggy said she really thought we would work well together. And I remember calling my mom and my dad and saying, “You’re not going to believe it but I might get to work on a Disney project!”

Every time I’ve gone in to Disney to meet with Peggy and the others on the team, I’m literally like Macaulay Culkin in “Home Alone,” with my mouth wide open. To this day, I can’t believe that I was able to be a part of something so cool and so magical.

I was totally star struck to meet Periwinkle. And the cool thing for me was that I was going to be a part of how she would come alive. I was actually helping to create her. It was an amazing evolution. I’d never done anything like this. I felt like a little boy because I grew up drawing all the time and I’ve always drawn Mickey Mouse and other Disney characters. But to actually be there at the studio was amazing. They even put up big scenes of Periwinkle’s environment for me. So I felt like I had the coolest hair salon in the Winter Woods!

At times I felt like such a nerd because I was so excited. When we first got there, they walk us around and introduced us to some of the animators. Everybody I met must have thought I was a crazy person, because I couldn’t believe where I was. I really thought that somebody was going to say at the end, “I hope you enjoyed the tour, it was nice to meet you, but come back when you can collect yourself.”

The best way to describe how I felt is that I was humbled. I was humbled by what everybody else had already done on “Secret of the Wings,” what is done on a regular basis at Disney.

Periwinkle lives in the Winter Woods and has a frosty cool updo, see how to achieve her chic style:


Q:    Your enthusiasm is obviously genuine, but you’re a man who works with some of the most celebrated people on the planet!

KP:  But that was the beauty of it is because the one thing that Disney gives all of us is the opportunity to believe. It allows us to have hope. It allows us to go to that magic place in our mind where we all deserve to go. And where we should all go, so that we can believe outside of what we see just in front of us every day. And it did take me back to that place I believed in.

I felt like I was part of something great and I really did want to be a part of something our very young generation looks up to. It’s so important that we keep Disney and their message relevant.

When you watch the “Tinker Bell” movies there is real content there, but it’s delivered in a way that kids can receive and digest it. There are real values. Real messages. Real stories, which is always amazing to me. And then I thought it was really great that Disney was designing this new character that looked a little bit different. She had a cool kind of ultra modern short pixie cut, which I was super excited about that. I was really eager to get in there and do my thing.

Courtesy of Disney

Q:  What was your preparation process?

KP:  I traced the character’s design that Peggy sent to me and then I worked to create a fluidity of my own so that it would be something that I could replicate. I wanted an organic movement. And the wigs! I forget how many wigs I had prepared, and they were all in variances of shades. When Peggy and I talked, we discussed how Periwinkle’s hair would be icy, but it wouldn’t be silver and it would be kind of transparent.

So I spent days trying to get the right color. We tried out a couple of wigs and as I said, I had done some sketching of her hair and her hair shape because I really wanted to get that shape. I think the shape was most important, because to me, it felt like her hair almost froze into that shape when she was flying around. It had to have a natural and organic water drop feel, but with the solidity of ice.

We started with a real-life model who kind of resembled Periwinkle in a realistic way. Her hair was all one length––nearly down to the middle of her back when we started––and kind of silvery with a hint of lavender hair color. I immersed myself in Periwinkle’s story and her life, and had pictures of her everywhere.

We started cutting and didn’t stop. We just kept going, and then the producer and director were coming around and they could see Periwinkle coming to life. And that gave me even more enthusiasm.

And I had a bit of feathering in the back. I talked to Peggy quite a few times and then I did a lot of research on what all the other characters looked like.

I tried to represent all the hard work and thought process that everybody involved had already put into this. Periwinkle was already created well before I came in. She had a life, and she had all of these amazing things. And I really wanted to make everybody else proud of what I contributed. I wanted my work to stand next to all that amazing work that was already there before I came onboard.

Q:    This sounds like the ultimate labor of love project.

KP:  But it didn’t feel like labor in any way shape or form. It felt like it was coming from a place of love. Everyone involved just really lit up. Peggy and producer Michael Wigert, everybody lit up when it came to Periwinkle. Everybody loves her already. Everybody was so excited to meet her as she was coming to life. Never in my entire career have I experienced anything like that.

Q:    What were some of the biggest challenges you faced in creating Periwinkles hairstyle?

KP:  I really wanted to understand her movement. One of the things was how the hair floated a little bit on the character. I wanted to see how she would move because she has a lot of energy. I wanted to research how the fairies move around, and know the angles at which they’re illustrated and what we see from them. One thing Peggy said to me on the phone was that she wanted to work with someone like me because I’ve created looks for women from a 360-degree angle for red carpets events and such. The 360-degree look was something that she really wanted me to take into consideration because she said we’ll be using this in every angle that we illustrate. I do think about that for red carpet events or personal appearances. I do walk around clients a few times and look to make sure it all has a great flow.

So I watched all of the “Tinker Bell” movies and watched the way that the fairies flew, and what happened when they landed. I wanted to create something that was organic to her character and the storyline in the movie, but also went along with her movements.

It was really kind of getting in touch with my own inner child again and wanting Periwinkle to be as magical as I would want her to appear when I would see her. So I spent days sketching and researching and shaping her hair and really just trying to get the right proportion on her. To still keep it really feminine and kind of dainty, but yet spunky. I think we really nailed that.

Check out how to channel Fawn's tomboy no-nonsense attitude with her up and out of the way braid:


Q:    Would you please describe what the final hairstyle looks like?

KP:  I think the hair, to me, from a storyline point of view, looks like a girl who has a lot going on and she’s in and out quickly, and doesn’t spend too much time on herself and she moves so quickly that her hair really kind of almost froze in this great little shape because she’s so quick and always moving. But it’s still really feminine and fun and cute. But it has coolness to it. In the fairy world, Periwinkle has a little bit more of an edge to her, and I think that her hair goes along with her personality. Where Tink’s got that spunkiness about her, too, I think Periwinkle’s look kind of communicates that a little bit more.

And I thought it was really relevant too that there are a lot of younger girls now with shorter haircuts. And I also thought it was a really amazing message for younger girls. Disney did such an amazing job with all of the fairies to represent a universal ideal of beauty. Disney provides diversity and different ideals of beauty. And that’s one of the things I felt about Periwinkle. She helps to break down those pressures that girls feel at times to fit into a category.

I thought it was really great that Disney would be introducing a character who had short hair because we do put a lot of pressure on younger girls and women to have a long flowing mane that not everybody looks good in. And lots of girls like cool, fresh-looking hair. She looked fresh to me, with a fresh cool little short haircut. I’m sure that there are going to be some little Periwinkles out there. She’s going to start a whole new hair trend. She felt like that young girl who has a lot going on and she’s cool and has a little bit edge, and she’s spunky and fun and playful. I feel that’s what this hair looks like. But then the hair also feels organic to her environment and where she lives. And there is a silhouette of a melted snowflake and the drop is frozen. If you picture just a dripping end of a snowflake and it freezes. It has that shape, so it lends itself perfectly to her environment. I’m proud to say that I know that Periwinkle will represent a huge demographic of young girls who will relate to her in a different way than they’ve related maybe to any other character. And it’s just so cool that I could have been a part of that.

Q:    You’re now part of the Disney legacy. Your dreams have come true. How does that make you feel?

KP:  It brought me to tears to be able to work for Disney. I called my dad because I was so proud and so excited to tell him, more than anybody else, that our name would be associated with Disney. I mean DISNEY! My dad worked in the auto industry in Detroit, seven days a week, ten to twelve hours a day, and once a year he took us on a vacation. We would get into a motor home and drive down to Florida to go to Walt Disney World. So Disney has always been a huge thing to me and part of my family. When I realized this, and that I was a part of “Secret of the Wings,” without sounding, you know, crazy, I was reduced to tears. I was beyond proud and I was in awe and I was in disbelief.

I called my dad saying, can you believe it dad? I really was in disbelief. Because I think that Disney is everything we hope for and all the magic we want to believe in for our lives. And all the magic that should be in our lives. I still can’t believe it. This seems so much larger than anything I’ve ever done before. And as you said, of all the things I’ve ever worked on or created, this will be seen by more people. This sounds heavy, but I feel a greater responsibility.

Just as when I was a kid and going through “It’s a Small World” and it was so magical seeing people from every walk of life, it just made me feel a part of something bigger than myself. And so for me, in creating a style for this character I really want everyone to look at Periwinkle and be just as in love with her as every other Disney character and every character that I fell in love with.

The moment you see a Disney character, you know them, you love them, and you want to hug them. You want to touch their hair and you want to know their stories. And it was a great responsibility and an honor and a great, great privilege. It was pure magic for me. It was definitely overwhelming and humbling, but exciting.

The experience was true Disney magic for me. I was able to be a part of one character. I wanted to honor Mr. Walt Disney and everything that he stood for, and everything that all the illustrators and everyone who worked with Disney and have kept that intact. It’s really amazing to me that in 2012 Disney is still so impactful in the way that it is. And still so relevant and popular considering the way that so much of children’s entertainment has gone in such aggressive ways. Disney has maintained that innocence and that hope that it always has and I wanted to be right on with that. With whatever it was that I was lending to it.

Secret of the WingsSecret of the WingsCourtesy of Disney

Q:    I can’t imagine anything giving you greater joy in your work.

KP:  I wish everybody could feel this way in their heart every once in awhile, no matter what age we are, but especially for kids. Just to know that I am a very small part in creating a character that evokes that kind of a feeling in somebody––I’m over the moon. I really am.

Q:    We wish we could be in the theater when you see your name on screen.

KP:  Oh, that’s going to be so great. Really, I cannot believe it. I’ve kept so quiet and to myself because I’m so excited and so proud. I’m waiting for Periwinkle to arrive. It’s like a first trimester when you don’t really say anything. But as Periwinkle gets closer I’m excited to tell everybody. Because it is really amazing.

I always say that at the end of the day we take with us everything that’s left in our head. And this is one of those moments that I will never forget. One of the moments that, until the end, I will be so proud of. It will make me smile to the end.

Secret of the Wings Triage Clip