By Suzanne Zuckerman
Updated Oct 16, 2017 @ 9:00 am
Credit: Courtesy of Adir Abergel

On Adir Abergel’s Instagram, the stars are always out: There’s Gwyneth Paltrow in a chic low pony and that white Tom Ford cape at the 2012 Oscars. There’s Jessica Biel’s long, full bangs. And yep, that’s Reese Witherspoon cuddling up with him in a selfie. And while Abergel’s looks may be “undone, deconstructed, and effortless,” he says, his relationships run deep. Anne Hathaway wrote on Instagram: “Adir, you have held me, cried with me, smiled for me, got me laughing when I thought it was impossible.” Part hair magician, part therapist, he doesn’t just cut; he connects. “I love and respect these women immensely,” he says of his clients. “I think it’s the level of empathy I have for them that keeps me there.”

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Credit: Courtesy of Adir Abergel

Abergel got his start in Hollywood by accident. At 15, he marched into legendary stylist Arthur Johns’s salon and declared himself Johns’s new assistant. Not yet immersed in celebrity culture (he was following a tip from a cosmetology school classmate), Abergel learned later that Johns, the creator of Carrie Fisher’s Princess Leia buns and Jennifer Beals’s Flashdance shag, was an icon. As Johns’s apprentice, Abergel earned his stripes cutting the hair of Nancy Reagan and Tina Turner. “These women know hair,” he says. “If you put one curler in the wrong place…”

At Johns’s salon, Abergel felt at home for the first time. Born in Israel to an activist father and an artist mother, he was sent to live with relatives in L.A. at age 8. He spoke no English. “I didn’t have the easiest childhood,” he says. “I endured a lot of pain leaving my parents.” By 14, he was supporting himself as a professional dancer. After his career as a hairstylist took off in the ’90s, he parlayed his performance passion into work on music videos, creating some of the decade’s most indelible looks. (Including Britney Spears's "Oops! ... I Did It Again.")

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Credit: Courtesy

His MTV cred led to a gig with a fresh-faced actress named Jennifer Garner—and the rest is Hollywood hair history. These days he’s styling Kristen Stewart’s white-hot crop, weaving metal into Emma Watson’s awards-show updos, and helping formulate products as creative director of the hair-care line Virtue. “My mission in life is to make these women feel powerful and beautiful. I mean that from the bottom of my heart.”

Abergel's Arsenal
Credit: Time Inc Digital Studio; Courtesy (5)

Virtue Recovery Shampoo and Smooth Conditioner, $38 each; Hot Tools 1" 24K Gold Curling Iron, $50, A x L Narrow Liquid Metallic Barrette ($128) and Fresh Metal Pearl Ponys ($128 each);

Time Inc Digital Studio; Courtesy (5)

For more stories like this, pick up the November issue of InStyle, available on newsstands, on Amazon, and for digital download Oct. 13.