Rachel&Vanessa Fortino

Venessa & Rachel Fortino, photo by Giulio Muratori

Top Italian-Canadian Female Hairstylists

by Sylvia Diodati

Rachel @vee4hair.portfolio @ray4.hair 

Age: 35 Italian Roots: Dad was born in Santo Stefano di Rogliano, Cosenza, Calabria Where To Find Her: Salon Alessandro, St. Catharines

Industry Icons/Mentors: My father Alex Fortino and my uncle Frank Fortino were my first mentors in the industry. They gave me the opportunity and guidance I needed. Fabio Sementilli had a huge impact on my career. My hair community is also important to me. They are spread out all over the country; I learn from them and lean on them everyday.

Best Hair Tip For The Season: Try to wash your hair less frequently to avoid drying it out. Use a mask once a week for added moisture. Winter is always a good time to stay away from lightener (bleach) and tone blonde down, or go for a complete change, like a cool copper or a warm brunette.

Advice For Choosing A Hairstylist: You should know if he or she is the one after three visits. If you’re not feeling good about your hair by then, move on.

Favourite Bridal Hair-Do: Whatever makes the bride feel like the most beautiful woman in the room! I love bridal hair.

Top Celebrity Style Pick: Linda Evangelista was such an inspiration with her influence on hair. She cut off her hair in 1989 and it launched her career – the first supermodel to do this! She is from my hometown of St. Catharines, and I’ve always looked up to her confidence to take risks, change her hair and try new colours. 

Horror Story: When competing for the world championships in Frankfurt, Germany in 2014, we flooded the hotel room washing colour off the model. We were so concerned about the colours not bleeding into each other that we didn’t notice the inch of water all over the floor! Then, we were forced to work in the hotel hallway at two in the morning because the lighting was better than in our room. It was a nightmare.

Tool Of The Trade: My favourite brush is my Triomphe by Jean-Pierre. My favourite comb is my Orange YS Park 339 cutting comb.

Venessa & Rachel Fortino, photo by Giulio Muratori

Vanessa @vee4hair

Age: 30 Claim To Fame: Semi-finalist for the Sebastian Professional What’s Next Awards Where To Find Her: Salon Alessandro, St. Catharines Industry

Icons/Mentors: My industry icons are Vidal Sassoon, Stephen Moody, Traci Sakosits, the late, incredibly talented Fabio Sementilli and my father Alex Fortino. My mentors are Daniel Ditomasso, Gianpaolo Colombo and my sister Rachel Fortino.

Best Hair Tip For The Season: I always suggest giving your hair a break in the winter, whether that means regular treatments or toning down the blonde. Because of the regular use of heat, we often have dry hair in the winter. It’s very important to address that.

Advice For Choosing A Hairstylist: Thanks to social media we can view a hair stylist’s portfolio before booking an appointment. Most salons offer free consultations; I highly suggest taking advantage of that to make sure you and your new stylist are on the same page.

Favourite Bridal Hair-Do: I’m a big fan of natural looks: high soft ponies or soft finger waves and a sleek bun. I think it’s very important to keep your hair soft because, as a bride, you have a lot of accessories and you want everything to flow together.

Top Celebrity Style Pick: Brigitte Bardot. I absolutely love her look – feminine and timeless. Her hair is so effortlessly sexy and soft. 

Horror Story: I was cutting the hair of a New York Yankees player and had absolutely no idea who he was. The funny thing was that he played along and realized I didn’t recognize him. I proceeded to ask him if he would be checking out the game while he was in town, and another client yelled that he would not only be attending but playing in it! I was embarrassed, but he was a very good sport about it!

Tool Of The Trade: My favourite product line is Sebastian. I eat, breathe and sleep Sebastian. The one product I cannot live without is their dark oil. I use it on absolutely everyone.