Make-up guru Chris Gees talks about his path to achieving his goals, his glittering resume of celebrity clientele, awesome product line Canna Care, and how his worth ethic and talent caught the eye of music’s it-girl Beyonce.
It’s been these things that’ve made the name Chris Gees synonymous with skill, talent and the ability to produce.
Chris’s work has been seen on all stretches of the red-carpet and in every capacity that celebrity can be exhibited. From the Grammy and Oscar red-carpets all the way to the set of music-video productions for celebs like John Legend (Green Light), lil’ Wayne (Get Money) and Beyonce (Homecoming concert/Lemonade), Chris Gees brings a fresh and stylish take on beauty that continually attracts those that occupy the upper echelons of celebridom. The both of us were on opposite sides of the country recovering from whatever flu-cocktail mother nature had placed on the menu. Despite these things, Chris’s humor and energy still managed to shine through, indicative of his spiritual grounding and up-beat attitude.
“It was a mix of work ethic, favor and my upbringing,” Chris replied when asked about his transition into being one of the industry’s most sought-after beauty experts. “I’m a very spiritual guy I don’t do anything without prayer and my gut telling me that something is a go. My mom raised me with the idea that being 15 minutes early is being on-time and being on-time is being late. That carried over with me in college and later in my career.” Whenever we meet people as accomplished as Chris is, we all ask how? While answers no doubt vary, Chris Gees’ personal formula for success is comprised of three things–faith, work, and favor.
“Hair and make-up started as a hobby for me. I started in musical theater and I’ve been performing all my life. When I left Tallahassee to come to L.A. I was using that (make-up) to get into the door. And the glam just blew up immediately. I left in January of 2008 and by February Omarosa was my first celebrity client. That really opened the door for me because she was on an episode of the Wendy Williams show where she and Wendy got in a little tit-for-tat. We can’t take all the credit, but that episode saved Wendy’s show. That episode was more of a sneak-peek and was only in select cities. The show was still new, and it wasn’t doing so well because celebrities didn’t want to come on because she use to talk about people so bad. Why would I come sit with you in person on television and I don’t know what’s going to come out your mouth and I know your history? That episode shot ratings out the sky and that brought attention to me because people were Tweeting about Omarosa’s look.”
Chris has achieved what only a handful of people can boast, and something every beauty and fashion professional has dreamed of–working with Beyonce. Having been an integral part of her Lemonade and Homecoming productions, Chris reminisced working with Queen Bey and his experience at Coachella 2018.
“Oh my God. What’s it like working with Beyonce? Its fu*king Beyonce! Aside from what the public may see, she’s a great boss. She cares about the people that are on her staff and that are apart of her production. When we’re in production she literally goes around to every department and is speaking and making sure everybody’s good. It’s great to work with someone that wants the absolute best for what they’re doing because then it’ll push every other department to do their best i.e. Beychella (Coachella),” Chris said his voice still resonating with a dreamy air of elation.
“There was no way I was letting one beret come off. I had a team of about twenty stylists and five barbers. We stitched those berets on by hand. I literally assigned 2-3 stylists per dancer—they were the only ones that had to change. But literally they came off stage, we’d clip the top thread off, stitch the new beret on down and send them back out. The level of creativity and hands-on-deck it takes to make something like that happen I can attribute to her [Beyonce] as a leader.”
Chris Gees has worked in glam for every area of entertainment, and he values each experience as unique. Chris noted the industry’s lack of knowledgeable stylists long before it became a conversation.
“The biggest challenge is stylists that aren’t equipped to handle the task and that’s a big deal with what we’re facing in the entertainment industry. Black hair comes in all lengths, textures, and colors so contrary to our counterparts, they don’t necessarily have to do all the creative things African Americans have to do to maintain. We have braids, we have sew-ins or guys with a fade, waves or locks. There are so many styles that Black people have and if I show up to set with braids that need to be touched up, Karen is looking at me like What do you want me to do? I don’t care what production you’re on, everything starts with the glam team. If I’m not feeling confident in the trailer before the day really starts, then my day is kinda shot. If you don’t have the proper tools or product it can be a nightmare. And that’s the main issue we’re having and that’s running into people who aren’t equipped for the job.”
“Timing and weather are always factors when filming,” he mentioned in regards to creating looks for different productions. We shot A Wrinkle in Time in six months, but in that period, everything is so quick. The challenges of making sure that hairpieces stay on or that lace isn’t showing on wigs its little things like that that you have to pay attention to.”
Chris was also a creative force for the up-and-coming Mahalia starring Danielle Brooks and Wendy Williams: The Movie. “Mahalia was a fabulous project. It was a period piece and the looks ranged from the 20’s to the70’s. It was amazing doing the research and seeing how Black people were able to evolve during those tumultuous times. I loved seeing the progression of hairstyles and products used.”
You may even be able to attribute the industry’s lack of knowledge of African American hair to Chris’s haircare product line Canacare by Chris Gees. Offering a shampoo, conditioner and oil, Canacare is a haircare system engineered with CBD oil to produce maximum results for the hair. “People are really getting great results from the hair and scalp oil. This was important for me as a hairstylist. Its been a blessing to be able give back in that way because in the 20 year career I’ve had, I’ve worked with every hair texture, style and type you can imagine.”