I Met Madonna When I Was 23 — & We've Been Together Ever Since

When he was young, Andy Lecompte never dreamed that he'd work with the one of the greatest artists of his time. But on a chance trip to New York City 15 years ago, the 23-year-old caught Madonna's attention and immediately became the man behind her Vogue covers, Met Gala appearances, and everything in between. On the eve of her 60th birthday, he shares what it's really like to work with his idol, how it changed the course of his life, and the lengths they go to for great hair. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
I watched Truth or Dare when I was ten years old, and I saw Madonna celebrating the gay dancers. They were just equals to her and, at the time, I was sort of an outcast. I had been bullied as a child, but I didn't let anyone know that because it was shameful — you don't want your parents to know that you're being teased for being gay or that nobody likes you in school because you're different.
But I liked how she celebrated these gay guys in the movie, and I didn't know that I was gay or what it was. Around that same time, I started working at my sister's hair salon, and that was the place that I felt safe and secure. The clients loved and adored me, and I could just be myself. I started styling my sister's clients and that's where I developed my passion for hair. I said, "This is what I want to do."
Lucky Star
I did Madonna's manager's assistant's hair since she was in college. Then I met her manager, and I started doing her hair. The manager recommended me to Madonna's assistant, and I started doing all their hair. In 2003, I was flown to New York, where Madonna was promoting The English Roses, her children's book series. I thought, I get to do Madonna's hair; this is cool... this will just be one gig.
Madonna was starting her book tour and winding down on her promo for [her album] American Life, and they wanted her hair to look very natural. She really liked the way I did her hair because I'm good at waves and curls; that's the phase that she was in and she liked how I was able to give her a very natural texture.

Madonna takes on and embodies a persona. She becomes the character of whatever she's doing and whatever is inspiring her.

Andy Lecompte
She fell into my lap, and I started working with her, but there were challenges along the way. If she doesn't like something, she rejects it — but it's never personal. You just have to work harder, smarter, more organized. When I did my first tour [with her], they hired a wig person to design all the wigs, and when they didn't work, I rose to the occasion. I reworked the wigs for all the dancers. I stayed up all night, I worked hard, I got it done, and I delivered. I work around the clock. Every project, I'm over-prepared.
Express Yourself
She definitely has an opinion, and that's why I love working with her. There will be old films and actresses that she'll be inspired by and we'll create our own versions of them. When we were doing MDNA promotion and her "Girl Gone Wild" look, one of the references was the "iconic Madonna with the short blonde wig." There was the rock-chick Madonna, and then there was the super-vixen Madonna. For tours, some of our looks evolved in rehearsals, and they were designed based on quick changes. Clothes come first, and I have to come up with ways to change her look in five minutes.
Madonna takes on and embodies a persona. She becomes the character of whatever she's doing and whatever is inspiring her. Whatever she's doing, she owns it, and that becomes her persona for that moment. What I love about working with her is that everything connects; it's always an evolution.
Photo: Billy Farrell/Patrick McMullan/Getty Images.
Photo: Billy Farrell/Patrick McMullan/Getty Images.
One of my ultimate favorite looks was the 2005 Vanity Fair Oscar Party; it was her Marilyn Monroe look. She was wearing a navy Dolce & Gabbana dress and her natural hair, not a wig. It was a wonderful, beautiful set, and the pictures were flawless. And it was funny because I told her that's my favorite and the year before when she wore a pink dress and she had the flick – she was like, "That's my favorite."
Wash All Over Me
There’s one reason that Madonna's hair is so healthy: She doesn't really do that much to it and she doesn't wash it regularly — just once a week. She doesn't blow dry her hair ever and lets it dry naturally. We're currently working on a discontinued conditioner: the Wella Luxe Oil Mask. (Editor's Note: LeCompte is a celebrity ambassador for the brand.) It's the best conditioner in the world, and they discontinued it. It was her favorite product and she actually bought the last 300 from Wella distribution. I'm buying as many as I can find on Amazon of the professional sizes.

What I've learned from working with her is not only how to try to be the best, but how to stay the best.

Like a Prayer
I did a prayer on the last tour, and I was talking about working with Madonna and the inspiration she had over my life. In a way, she's really inspired me. Nobody works harder than she does. That's why she's been in the business for so many years, because she never makes it easy for herself.
She's the ultimate perfectionist and what I've learned from working with her is not only how to try to be the best, but how to stay the best. How does she stay the best after all these years? She keeps working hard, and keeps striving. Every single project, you have to bring your A-game. You have to raise the bar every time; it's not about short-cuts. How have I stayed in the room for 15 years? I don't just come with my same bag of tricks. I change it, I evolve, and I grow.

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