When we say "air guitar," you probably immediately think of Wayne's World or Tom Cruise jamming out in his tighty-whities in Risky Business. Well, we'd like to update your perspective on this faux-form of musical expression. Meet Adrianna Lombardo, a gorgeous Chicago regional air-guitar champ also known as White Flame. Along with spending her time strumming to '80s hits, she manages hot, new salon Smith & Davis. How does she blend the two worlds? Lombardo gives us the skinny — along with plenty of serious beauty inspiration.
But double life she does not live. In fact, Lombardo says that her onstage alter-ego is an enhanced version of herself: completely free, liberated, and confident. Throw a few coats of mascara in with that (one of her faves) and you've got a serious stunner with a way-cool hobby. Talk about a breath of fresh air.
Photographed by Lucy Hewett
How would you describe your style?
"I like being feminine and simple. I’m not afraid of color or bold prints, but I think that everything should be done in moderation and good taste. My body type suits classic styles very well, so I love timeless vintage pieces. I aim to look effortless, understated, and chic."
So, then whose beauty/style do you admire and why?
"My grandma was a very glamorous woman even into her old age, so I always admired her style. She had a beautiful, thick, full head of white hair that was always fabulously styled. I can’t wait to go completely gray."
"She left a lot of her gowns from the '40s and '50s to me, and I cherish them dearly. I get inspired when I see really well-dressed older women who look like they have not skipped a beat since they were in their 20s."
Adrianna is wearing an Urban Outfitters top and shorts.
Let’s talk accessories: What are some of your go-to pieces?
"I think that accessories are strongest when chosen wisely. My grandmother gave me her jewelry boxes filled with amazing costume pieces, clip-on earrings, long strands of pearls, and huge cocktail rings. I try to incorporate one strong piece with every outfit."
So, how did you get into air guitar?
"I got into air guitar when I met my boyfriend three years ago. He was preparing to leave for Finland to compete in the world competition. He won the U.S. title in 2010, and I just became curious after that. After I had attended a few competitions and performances, I really started thinking that I wanted to be directly involved in the community."
"You really have to be at a competition to fully understand what it’s like: The energy in the room is electric, and everyone is having so much fun you can’t help but smile and scream with the crowd."
How many competitions have you been in and what are they like?
"Last summer was my first competition, and I was insanely nervous. I had always been in the audience so it was definitely a different experience being backstage with other air guitarists. I was honestly a little intimidated. My favorite moment was walking onto the balcony at The Metro, looking down on the crowd and seeing all of my friends and family there. They all started chanting ‘White Flame, White Flame!’ I instantly felt the adrenaline rush through my body and I couldn’t wait to get on stage."
Ever score any awards?
"I took the title of the Regional Chicago Air Guitar Champion in 2012."
Tell us about your air-guitar persona. Who is she?"
"The White Flame is girl power. I wanted her to be an inspirational female force for girls who come to air-guitar shows. She can totally hang with the guys and shotgun beers, and then touch up her lipstick before hitting the stage. She jumps on her bed in her tighty-whities singing into her hairbrush with her best girlfriends."
"I wanted her to be sweet and approachable but fierce and totally rock at the same time. Like Pat Benatar in the performance and, ultimately, the audience. Everyone has shy moments or moments of insecurity, and when I am the White Flame, all of that goes out the window."
What are your go-to skin and beauty products?
"I have very sensitive skin so I have to keep my skin care simple. If I don’t, I have a tendency to break out. I always start by cleansing with Philosophy’s Purity cleanser
to get rid of any makeup and oil. Then I use the greatest invention EVER, my Clairsonic cleansing brush
. I have also recently become obsessed with eye creams, so I use Eminence Organics Wild Plum eye cream
at night to eliminate dark circles and Orgins Starting Over
in the morning. I was shocked when I started seeing results so quickly, but they really are worth it."
"When it comes to makeup, I usually like a foundation with a little more coverage. I swear by Urban Decay’s Naked Skin liquid foundation. I also love to load on lots of mascara. I have fallen in love with Urban Decay’s Supercurl Mascara. Lastly, I can’t go anywhere without my eyebrows filled in. I have been complimented on my brows ever since I was a kid. I like them full, dark, and natural so I use a mixture of wax and powder to help fill in and keep the shape."
Sachajuan Ocean Mist, $28, available at Sephora; Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Ultra Definition Liquid Makeup, $39, available at Sephora; Urban Decay Supercurl Curling Mascara, $20, available at Urban Decay; Urban Decay Naked Flushed, $30, available at Urban Decay; Malin + Goetz Sage Styling Cream., $20, available at Malin + Goetz; Urban Decay De-Slick, $12, available at Urban Decay.
Have you always rocked shorter hair?
"When I first started working in salons four years ago I had hair down to my waist. I was a bit of a flower child and I had absolutely no concept of what a good haircut was like. Finally, a stylist pulled me aside, sat me down, and told me she was going to cut my hair. She put it into three ponytails and cut 12 inches off. It was one of those times when I needed a change after a bad breakup and I remember looking in the mirror and being shocked at how much confidence I was able to find within myself."
"So, I have forever been converted into a short hair girl. I’ve done everything from cute sassy bobs to short blonde pixie cuts. My philosophy is that it’s your hair and it’s always going to grow back so why not have fun with it."
So, what are your go-to products for your hair?
"I’m always focused on keeping my hair as healthy as possible. My curls need a lot of love, so I always mist in a little Sachajuan Leave In Conditioner
. I follow that up with Malin+Goetz Sage Styling Cream
. It smells incredible and gives the perfect amount of moisture and hold. I usually air dry, and my curls are always soft and bouncy. I only shampoo once or twice a week, so on the second or third day, I use Sachajuan Ocean Mist
to make my curls a bit messier and wild."
So, what’s your regular 9-5 gig?
"I’m the manager at Smith & Davis Salon. I met Stevie and Michael when I was working the front desk at another salon, and we always got along really well. I had made a decision to leave that salon and let the universe take care of me. I had no job or plan. I was thinking about maybe going back to school, but I just wasn’t sure what I wanted to do."
"I think I was unemployed for a total of four days when my phone rang on a Sunday morning and Stevie said, 'Hi, this is the universe calling. Michael and I are opening a salon in two weeks and we were wondering if you would be interested in helping us get it off the ground.' My jaw literally fell wide open. I met her for lunch the next day, saw the space, I fell in love with everything about it, and the rest is history."
Adrianna is wearing a vintage dress and shoes.
Even if you're not strumming on a real guitar, do you have any nail tips or techniques you fancy?
"I am extremely lucky to have a roommate who is really good at nail art. We must have about 100 different nail polishes in the house. My nails grow really fast so they’re always really healthy and long."
"We have girls' nights a few times a week, and she is always trying new design ideas out on me. I love all of the Essie
glitter polishes! I also love the Butter London Matte Finish topcoat
, as well as the Seche Vite fast dry topcoat
. It dries my nails in an instant, which is perfect for me because I can only sit still for so long."
What’s your ultimate career goal?
"Quite honestly, to not have a career at all. Someone wise once told me if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life. I am someone who can find great satisfaction in almost anything and I want to cultivate my curiosity and find adventure in every facet of my life. I love performing and being on stage so much, but I want to enjoy it in my own way. I’m always fearful that if I try to make it my career I will end up getting burned out and resent it."
Adrianna is wearing an Urban Outfitters dress and a jacket from a boutique in Austin.
What’s the best beauty advice you’ve ever received and who gave it to you?
"My bosses Stevie Smith and Michael Davis have always told me to embrace my natural beauty and to work with what I’ve got. If my hair is doing something crazy that day, I go with it and incorporate it into my overall look. They tell me I’m cute no matter what, and I think of that every day when I feel like I need an extra boost of confidence. I truly believe that confidence is beauty."