“It’s always sunny when I visit London,” began Andrew Dale, founder of Unite, and Unite Global Session 2015 was no exception with the sun shining down on London’s East End for the first day of the annual event.
Around 300 people descended onto the Shoreditch Town Hall Hotel, all keen to be inspired and to go back to the salon brimming with ideas.
A long hair styling section kicked off the event with audience favourite, David Fletcher, staying true to the East End location and creating a highly stylised look. Meanwhile, Estevan Garner created a one-sided style, with lots of volume on top and Narad Kutowaroo created very commercial-friendly looks with gentle waves and a gorgeous voluminous ponytail.
The day also saw Gary Baker give a nostalgic nod to the 80s with his punk-esque pixie crop, while Jan Przemyk was inspired by the 90s, specifically Australian model Emma Balfour, with a broken, fragmented look that included layered panels but no slicing.
It was time for the men’s section in the afternoon, with Daniel Rymer stating that “guys are growing their hair out a bit more and will be influenced by the 90s”. Matt Stark showcased a slightly Liam Gallagher Britpop-inspired look, while Ben Hards started with point five on the clipper and blended up to create a ‘20s Peaky Blinders-inspired cut.
Last year favourites, Fredrik Karlsson and Matthias Laveson, also made a return, creating classic glamorous styles with their own telltale twists. But one of the highlights of the day was Deb Gavin for Keratin Complex revealing how colour can complement and even enhance a cut and overall look. She showcased a range of shades from the on-trend silver grey to ravishing reds.
Day two had a lot to beat, but it was more than up to the task with the morning kicking off with cutting techniques. Anthony Rawlings, Jason Liddiard and Daniel Jordan shared their tips on adding interest to short hair, with undercuts, fringes and slices of colour high on the trend list.
Then long hair had its moment in the spotlight – Karine Jackson’s simple yet elegant updos were created alongside David Fletcher’s texturised, fan-shaped looks and Estevan Garner’s intricate masked style, complete with silver hoops.
It was back to barbering after lunch, with three very different looks created by masters of male grooming. Matt Stark looked to the 90s and the young Leonardo DiCaprio, while Ben Hards discussed the importance of following the curl pattern when cutting Afro hair. Daniel Rymer recreated an undercut look from his Future Tribes collection, a strong look that was nonetheless very wearable for clients.
The session stylists took to the stage, sharing their experiences of editorial and backstage work. Young talent Narad Kutowaroo created a romantic halo look, while veteran session stylist Simon Izzard showed how to create the perfect 70s curl. Jan Przemyk used chopsticks to create peaks in the hair, as an example of how to create shape without cutting.
The finale saw avant garde experts flex their creative muscles and let their imaginations run wild for a truly showstopping end to the show. “I was inspired by Philip Treacy,” said Gary Baker as he melted pink plastic hair to create a candyfloss effect. “This is more of a headpiece than hair now.” Meanwhile, Fredrik Karlsson and Matthias Laveson worked together to create a towering, woven look, and the Inanch team created a haunting vampire bride whose hair flowed into a veil, ruff and shoulder pads.
The whole Unite team and their models took to the stage to wave goodbye to their awestruck audience, who left with their thirst for inspiration quenched, already looking forward to next year’s event in sunny San Diego.