A Creative HEAD shoot, in partnership with BaByliss PRO Hair by Michelle Sultan, assisted by Simone Charles, Deen Fashola and Schola Rose
Bodies are teaming under neon lights, moving in rhythm to the hypnotic sounds of the late ‘70s… this is disco, a boogie wonderland of freedom of expression, of creativity, of acceptance. Bright colours, liberating sonics, intimate movements in a crowd that are all feeling the magic – and nowhere captured this hedonistic moment in pop culture better than New York’s Studio 54!
It was an easy destination for Michelle and the Creative HEAD Partnerships team to land on – that dance floor at Studio 54 – to celebrate the launch of BaByliss PRO’s new dryer, Falco, and to brilliantly showcase its broad portfolio of tools and stylers. A return to the hottest club that disco spawned had been a longstanding dream, and chimed in perfectly with Michelle’s personal adoration of the era.
“This is the era that I love the most, it was so glamorous and cool, nothing was overly contrived. It was just really sexy. It was a time when people were owning who they were. And it was unapologetic, there were no boundaries when it came to your look.” “It was literally everything we’ve done here – from clipper cuts to Afros; short, sharp hair cuts to really soft, sexy texture. There was no set rule. Everything was very fluid and carefree. It was a beginning of the era where we were able to express ourselves. And Studio 54 is a symbol of all that…”
The supermodel star of the era and a regular at Studio 54, Jerry Hall gave long, thick, luscious hair ALWAYS. Prepped in braids to add a foundation of kink, here the hair was sectioned and waved further with the BaByliss PRO Deep Waver for even more. “I want this hair to be unstructured, fluffy, beautiful, soft, but also defined waves,” says Michelle. “Running some serum along means when those neon lights bounce off her hair, it looks incredible!”
Michele Pfieffer’s Elvira in Scarface just wants to dance, her ice cold beauty keeping most suitors away. “See how that bob just moves? It’s fluid, gorgeous, glossy, not a hair out of place,” says Michelle. “She’s just owning the dance floor, just sexy. It’s such an iconic moment in hairdressing.” The ‘60s gave us that Mary Quant bob, but the ‘70s made it really, really cool.
“There was a different take on it, less structured, it moved more. It’s just so sexy.” Now Elvira has been transferred from that Miami club to Studio 54, with toffee flavours highlighting the cut to add extra interest. Those sharp edges? Courtesy of the Super Motor Clippers, then brought to life with gleaming shine with the BaByliss PRO Prima 3100 Titanium straightener.
That bevelled bob, swinging seductively to the music – makes Elvira a dancefloor star. But how to get that curve just so…? If you want that beautiful bevel, you need the banana shaped curl technique. “You’re almost scooping it from the root and you’re curving in a C shape with the straightener, because you don’t want a tight curl on the end,” explains Michelle. “Bring it all the way around in a really smooth action to get that beautiful curve and that shine.”
Both a guest on the Studio 54 dancefloor and a performer, Grace Jones just had to be honoured in this tribute, all raw energy and confrontational beauty. This is attitude, personified. “We just love the idea of the contrast of the cut and the colour. Think Studio 54, and it’s all about being iconic, looking strong,” explains Michelle.
Here, the hair colour has been lifted eight levels to deliver a true contrast with the skin tone. The hair itself clippered to a level 1.5 with tighter edges, thanks to the BaByliss PRO Cordless Rose Gold Super Motor Clippers. “This look is pushing boundaries, pushing it until it’s almost uncomfortable, making it super edgy.”
From I Feel Love to Love to Love You, Donna Summer was a disco icon. Those curls and those cheekbones made for a killer pairing, and a natural source of inspiration. Using the BaByliss PRO Ceramic Dial A Heat 32mm Curling Tong to add some texture, Michelle then opted for a little blow dry with the new BaByliss PRO Falco and its diffuser attachment to make the look as big as possible to get that real disco feel, before identifying individual curls to work out using her fingers.
Then it was back to the BaByliss PRO Ceramic Dial A Heat Curling Tong, this time in 19mm and 24mm. “When creating a curly look, using different sized tongs works really well, because if you look at anyone with curly hair, their hair is never just one sized curl,” explains Michelle.
Once super curly, it was about creating a soupçon of structural shape, pulling the sides up, keeping it super close to the head. Again, using the new Falco dryer, Michelle misted a little holding spray and then dried into place on a low setting with the diffuser attachment for a soft finish. Perfect to show off those razor-sharp, neon painted cheekbones, courtesy of MUA magician, Lan Nguyen-Grealis.
Yes, she’d once been the poster child for the hippy movement of the late ‘60s, but a decade on, Cher and her ridiculously long lengths because a Studio 54 stalwart. Starting with amazing waves, Michelle transformed our model into a chic, sleek, glossy goddess, thanks to the new BaByliss PRO innovation, Falco. “Oh my god, this is amazing,” gasps Michelle about the new T-shaped dryer, and who started the transformation by using its pik attachment. “It’s like a knife through butter, it’s literally gliding through, working its magic, smoothing her hair. It’s already so shiny, and has made the hair really workable.”
To add an extra layer of gleam, Michelle reached for the BaByliss PRO Prima 3100 Titanium straightener. “We’re not going overdo it, because we still want to keep an element of that authentic texture,” she says, “but we want to introduce a glossy section over the top.”
Sequins and sparkles were not the only thing capturing Michelle’s attention on shoot, as she locked eyes on the pik attachment available for the new Falco dryer from BaByliss PRO. “The beauty about having the pik comb attachment is when you’re working with different textures, you’re able to basically make those hair textures – especially tight hair textures – more pliable. This is incredible, I’ve been waiting for this! As an Afro specialist, we use comb attachments on dryers a lot, so having it in the BaByliss PRO family just means so much to me.”
If you managed to get past co-founder Steve Rubell manning the velvet rope, you would always see something unexpected within the Art Deco elegant walls of Studio 54. That’s precisely what this platinum blonde mullet encapsulates.
Hinting perhaps at the punk explosion occurring at New York’s other iconic club of the late ‘70s, CGBGs, this cut is a creation of layer upon layer of platinum wefts glued to create the classic business at the front, party at the back finish. Except of course, as its Studio 54, that party is longer and more full-on than you’d get elsewhere!
“I wanted to go for something exaggerated, a mullet but really extreme,” explains Michelle, who used the BaByliss PRO Prima 3100 Titanium straightener to add height and texture on the top, and smooth out the lengths. “We’re making this Barbie really obnoxious. She doesn’t care!”
Creative director of London’s iconic Hype Coiffure salon, Michelle Sultan roped in some of her salon squad to get their groove on. “A few of them had said to me they hadn’t been out on location or done any shoots recently, but they are some of the most talented and creative people that I work with on a day to day basis,” she says “I wanted to give them the opportunity to come and express themselves, have some fun and get out of the salon and inspire them to do some other work.”
“When you work with a team that you trust so much, you just have to look at each other and you can tell if something’s a little bit off or if something’s going really well. I love them, we’re one big family at Hype – to be able to give them this opportunity is really special to me. They deserve it!”
Let’s meet the team behind the Creative HEAD October cover shoot!
Your disco queen? Bianca Jagger. She was just the coolest. She was quite masculine, never showing too much skin but just the sexiest woman in the room. And that iconic white suit… how did she not get make-up on her suits? Can we just talk about that?
My favourite dancefloor filler… Boogie Wonderland by Earth, Wind & Fire.
Disco is… Sexy, strong, carefree, fun. Shiny, shiny, shiny!
Sequins or feathers? Oh, don’t do that to me. I can’t choose!
Who’s squeezing into your Studio 54 booth? Tina Marie is going to be there because I had tickets for her and then she died. Earth Wind & Fire have got to be in there, and probably the Jackson 5.
What are you drinking? A crazy cocktail, like a martini with an olive in it I want that iconic glass!
How high are your platforms? Probably about six inches. I own them, but I don’t know if I’ve worn them…
Favourite moment from the shoot… The best part has been working with such a great team. Everything has gone so smoothly, there’s been a nice atmosphere, a nice working place, it’s been such a fun day.
What I love about the new Falco… How smooth it is, how lightweight it is. It’s just so easy to use.
My favourite dancefloor filler… Rock with You by Michael Jackson
Your disco queen? Diana Ross
Favourite look from the shoot… I love all of them! But I really loved working on the Donna Summer-inspired look, it so suited the model.
My favourite dancefloor filler… Last Night a DJ Saved My Life by Indeep.
Your disco queen? Chaka Khan
Favourite look from the shoot… It’s gonna have to be the Afro, it looks amazing. I really enjoyed doing the mullet, working with my colleagues on that, so many hair pieces glued in! It’s been a great day. We don’t get to work on shoots together very often, it’s been amazing.
My favourite dancefloor filler… I Wanna Dance With Somebody by Whitney Houston. Sorry, I know it’s not disco!
Your disco queen? Tina Marie
When it comes to MUA royalty, Lan Nguyen-Grealis is right up there, adored for her original eye and appreciation of the play between hair and make-up. A visit to Studio 54 was bound to get her excited…
What disco says to you? Automatically you think depth of shine, colour, texture, something that makes you happy and want to dance. If you’re into colour like I am, and glitter, you just want to hone in on the shiny thing! But in this shoot, it’s all about creating a character vibe. So we’re not taking it quite literally and giving it a modern edge. It’s the essence of creating that character – the lashes because in those days, it wasn’t about graphic liner. It was more about creating structure with the shadow. It’s a play with light and dark by having different placement of lashes that suits the eye.
That’s the challenge for me, choosing each girl’s feature. And in keeping with that era, it’s a doe-eye and quite sexy mature finish. Layering up lashes, cutting them up, trying to give an eyeliner look without an eyeliner. It’s about trying to make sure that they’re oozing sexy ‘70s fun without being over the top. Not too girly, a soft focus creating a veil of textures on the skin. There are elements of high shine, there are elements of just pared back washes of colour, bringing out the bone to structure.
When you think Studio 54, who comes to mind in terms of a great make-up look? Cher comes into my head! She’s iconic. Also Grace Jones, and a bit of Charlie’s Angels! It’s lilacs, it’s taupes, it’s all that sort of gorgeousness.
CREDITS: A Creative HEAD shoot, in partnership with BaByliss PRO
Hair: Michelle Sultan, assisted by Simone Charles, Deen Fashola and Schola Rose
Photography: Makiyo Lio, assisted by Jan Stasiuk
Reportage photography: Harvey Williams-Fairley
Make-up: Lan Nguyen-Grealis, assisted by Yong Chin
Fashion: Anastasia Busch, assisted by Charly Smith Ball
Production: Joanna Andersen and Jenny Brooks, the Creative HEAD Creative Partnerships team
Editorial: Amanda Nottage and Annie May Byrne Noonan
Social media: Kelsey Dring and Aoife Connell
Videography: Austen Killingbeck-Jones and Joe Bidmead, Friday Sky
Models: Akuac @ Nevs, Tenika @ W Models, Harmony and Janna D @ Duo Model Management Shot on location at Metropolis
Akuac wears: Dress by Azzi & Osta, heels by Roker, necklace and rings by Dosis gbc.
Second look: Jumpsuit by Karen Millen, rings by Dosis gbc, heels by Malone Souliers.
Harmony wears: Dress by AMYLYNN, rings by Misho.
Second look: Dress by Azzi & Osta, earrings by Saad Collection, rings by Misho.
Janna wears: Dress by Agro Studio, ring by Mimia Leblanc Jewelry.
Second look: Jacket, skirt and tights by Agro Studio, earrings by Saad Collection, ring by Mimia Leblanc Jewelry, heels stylists own.
Tenika wears: Dress by AMYLYNN, rings by Dosis gbc.
Second look: Dress by Philipp Plein, rings by Dosis gbc, heels stylists own.