Carrie Underwood turns heads when she walks the red carpet, garnering praises for not only her gowns, but her hair and makeup as well. The woman behind Carrie’s tresses and makeup is hairstylist and makeup artist Melissa Schleicher, who also cites Alan Jackson, Brad Paisley and Rascal Flattsamong her celebrity clients. Melissa recently opened her own salon, Parlour 3, in Brentwood, Tennessee and Carrie was among the stars helping her celebrate.
“I came to Nashville right after Idol and right in the middle of CMA Music Festival,” Carrie told The Tennessean. “I had already had a couple of people work on my makeup that I wasn’t crazy about, and we called Melissa. It was love.”
Since meeting in 2005, Melissa has worked with Carrie on red carpet looks as well as photo and video shoots. The pair have also become good friends, so much so that Carrie asked Melissa to be one of her bridesmaids when she married hockey star Mike Fisher in 2010. Melissa wasn’t always working with celebrity clientele, however.
“I graduated from beauty school and started working at a salon at Hickory Hollow Mall,” she said of the Nashville-area mall. “It was during the Glamour Shots heyday, and I was doing makeup for them.” Her work was spotted by a photographer and she started doing photo shoots as well as cutting hair. She then went to work for Melanie Shelley at the Nashville salon Trim Classic Barber & Legendary Beauty, where she met Alan Jackson.
“I started working with Alan and (his wife) Denise, and then it just grew,” she said. “And once I started working with Carrie, I was basically on the road for two years.”
Melanie got her start working in New York City. When she moved to Nashville, it was far from being a town on the cutting edge of style. “I was working on [supermodels] Naomi (Campbell) and Christy Turlington, and we were doing all these shows with stick straight hair,” she told The Tennessean. “Then I came down here and there were mullets and perms.”
She gained experience by working in Italy at couture runway shows such as Versace and Thierry Mugler and apprenticing at New York’s top salons. She made herself known in Nashville by working with an agent and offering Nashville-based celebrities a more modern style than many of the local salons at the time.
So how do Melissa and Melanie handle the stress that comes with being responsible for the hair and makeup of a star who is going to be seen on a red carpet in front of huge crowds? By building trust and playing what Melanie calls the ‘kind psychologist.’
“The truth is, my job is to make the artist feel so confident that they can go in front of thousands of people and not worry about what they look like,” Melanie said. “I am in service to someone who puts on the cloak of a star.”