Most people were first introduced to Christina Aguilera in the late '90s, when her hair was trimmed into a long bob and she sang about genies in bottles. By 2001, Aguilera traded in her cropped tees for leather chaps and added red and black highlights to her platinum blonde hair. A few years later, Aguilera released her fifth studio album, adopting a new alter ego named Baby Jane. The piercings and dark hair were gone and in their place? Red lipstick and a bombshell bob reminiscent of Marilyn Monroe. In short: She's never stopped evolving — not once.
While Aguilera's accolades have grown and her music has evolved, there's one thing about the five-time Grammy Award winner that hasn't changed: her status as a bonafide beauty icon — and we know just the woman to thank. Meet Priscilla Valles.
Valles, a celebrity hair extensions expert, has a roster of A-list celebrities — including Chrissy Teigen, Kylie Jenner, and Hailey Bieber — but it's her relationship with Aguilera that's most impressive. In fact, Valles has been there from the beginning and is responsible for many of Aguilera's iconic looks.
We recently got to visit Valles at the newly-renovated Palms Casino Resort, where her new salon just opened inside the resort's tri-level spa. There, we talked to the stylist about her longtime friendship with Aguilera and what it's really like being apart of her famous evolution. Her answers, ahead.
The following interview was told to Samantha Sasso and edited for length and clarity.
From Client To Best Friend
"The first time I worked on Christina was about 19 years ago when we were both 18 or 19. I was just out of beauty school and had only been assisting for a year when I worked on a job with her. Christina eventually told my boss that she liked how soft-spoken I was, but really I was just starstruck.
"Then, there was this one time that she heard I was going through a bad breakup. Normally, I'd go in, do her hair, and leave, but this time she asked me if I was okay. The next day, she sent me a beautiful floral arrangement with the sweetest card. From that point on, I continued to work with her. Every show she's done, every shoot, every album — I've done the extensions for her.
"It's the strongest friendship I've ever had. After her last Xperience show, instead of going to celebrate, she packed up all the dancers and came to The Palms to see my new salon. We celebrated together and she made it clear that we weren't just celebrating the last leg of her show, but we were celebrating the opening of my salon. I don't think of her as Christina Aguilera , the star; I think of her as my sweet best friend who I can watch Overboard with and wear pajamas and face masks."
Hair Color Gone Wrong
"Peter Savic did a lot of the styling on Christina. He would come up with the look, and I'd try to figure it out with the extensions. He was the creative mind behind her black extensions. I do remember that there was a problem with them at one point. Christina washed her hair and the black began to bleed onto the blonde, and turned it gray. This was just before a performance, too. That was a bit of a panic moment, but the black hair is probably one of my favorite looks of hers.
"If something doesn't really work and looks a little messed up, Christina still likes it. There have been a couple of times when I took her red, and it ended up being this different shade than we planned, and she still loved it.
"She's always been exploring and creative, but right now she's really come into her own. I've never seen anything like her creative vision, but she's also found a balance. Christina always was on the edgier side; now there's a softness to her edge."
Christina's Most Iconic Look
"Christina's looks are constantly changing, but it's always been her platinum hair. No one else was doing it at the time, so that look became huge. I remember when Kylie [Jenner] would say to me, 'I want to go Christina platinum.' I went from one icon to another who is now using my other client to inspire a new modern look. It's hard to even look at it from an outside perspective and think, Wow, am I actually apart of this evolution?"
The Evolution Of Hollywood Extensions
"Everyone was extremely secretive about getting extensions in the '90s. I'd have to sign confidentiality agreements before I even met the client, because they didn't want anyone to know they had extensions. At the end of the day, it is a vulnerable and intimate service. Once social media started covering lots of glam, things changed. I think everyone got addicted to seeing the transformation.
"About five years ago, Chrissy Teigen cut her hair into a bob and Jen Atkin referred me to her for extensions. At one point, Chrissy lost an extension and took a photo of it, tagging me on Instagram. She was totally open about it. I was amazed because I was always kept a secret. Now, I love that it's fun to openly change your look. It makes women feel really good about themselves. You can wash off makeup, but extensions really become a part of you."
Travel and accommodations were provided by The Spa at Palms for the purpose of writing this story.
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