IN 1967 HE EMIGRATED TO THE UNITES STATES , WHERE HE DEVELOPED INTO ONE OF THE MOST FAMOUS HAIR DRESSERS AND MAKE-UP ARTIISTS IN THE WORLD OF FASHION. HE WANTED TO BECOME A PHOTOGRAPHER. IN THIS REGARD, FATE SMILED ON HIM AND OPENED THE DOOR TO THE GREATEST PROFESSIONALS. HE LEARNT FROM RENOWNED PHOTOGRAPHERS SUCH AS HORST P. HORST AND MARCO GLAVIANO. AND IT WAS MARCO, WHO DIRECTED ROBERT VANO TO PHOTOGRAPH MALE PORTRAITS AND NUDES. HE RETURNED AFTER THE REVOLUTION AND ACCEPTED THE JOB OFFER OF CREATIVE DIRECTOR OF THE CZECH VERSION OF ELLE MAGAZINE AND SETTLED IN PRAGUE.  NOW HE PUBLISHES BOOKS, HOLDS EXHIBITIONS AND, THROUGH WORKSHOPS AND DISCUSSIONS, PASSES ON HIS RICH LIFE EXPERIENCE. 

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ROBERT VANO – INTERVIEW

Robert Vano was born in Slovakia in the city of Nove Zamky to Hungarian parents. He spent his childhood and adolescence in Slovakia. In November 1967, an occupational order came, which was the impetus for Robert Vano and two of his closest friends to emigrate. There was not much time to plan. Impulsively, they decided to escape through Yugoslavia and Italy, which for several months became a refuge for them in one of the refugee camps. Getting there required great courage and determination. It was only possible to get out of the train through the toilet window that was pulled halfway down, the other windows were barred. Then they had to lie under the train and wait until it left. The next day it was necessary to overcome the most difficult obstacle that separated the three youngsters from their desired freedom. Walk through the mined forest, where death lurked literally at every step, and finally crawl a half-meter barbed wire fence. The traumatic experience has been so deeply rooted in his mind that Robert Vano has been unable to go to the forest ever since. After spending eight months in a refugee camp, Robert was adopted by a family from Philadelphia, so he finally got to the United States.

The first years were very difficult for Robert Vano. At first, he had to get used to hard work. He went through works in the glassworks, belt production, dish washing and food import. It was also necessary to learn English. Gradually, he developed into one of the most famous hairdressers and make-up artists in the world of fashion. He wanted to become a photographer. In this regard, fate smiled on him and opened the door to the greatest professionals. He would not meet better teachers even at the most prestigious photography school in the world. He learned from renowned photographers such as Horst P. Horst and Marco Glaviano, for whom he worked as an assistant. And it was he who directed Robert Vano to photograph male portraits and nudes. Thanks to this, he was significantly different from all other photographers, who mostly focused on women, but mainly models. After the revolution, he returned to visit his parents, whom he had not seen since his emigration. Unfortunately, he never saw his father again. Later, he accepted the job offer of creative director of the Czech version of ELLE magazine and settled in Prague. He never returned to America. He stopped traveling and flying, so he even renounced the possibility of taking a pension in the US.

The immensely engaging life story of Robert Vano is full of ups and downs. He worked alongside the world’s most famous personalities. His clients included Rod Stewart, Michael Douglas and many others. For years, he met them every day from morning to evening. However, he never made deep friendships with any of the celebrities, for he had never coveted it and had never become a celebrity himself. Yet he managed to rank among the world’s top fashion photographers. As a hairdresser, he made big money that he had never dreamed of before. He enjoyed it to the fullest, so he never managed to become rich. Nor did he avoid the wild parties and drug orgies so typical of life in America in the 1970s and 1980s. At that time, in the famous Studio 54 in New York, where famous personalities of the fashion, political and music world gathered, his legendary photograph was taken in the toilet by the king of pop art, Andy Warhol. He managed the drug addiction period mainly thanks to his best friend Richard Zoli, who emigrated to the United States a year after Robert Vano. Together with his wife Bethea, they offered him facilities and literally saved his life. Now Robert Vano, as he himself says, is in the third act of his life, in which he publishes books, holds exhibitions and, through workshops and discussions, passes on his rich life experience.