‘Aaizél’ by Emma Diamond

When Emma Diamond was approached with a session opportunity, she faced a dilemma – accept, and work with some major talent, or decline due to a lack of experience with afro hair. With an overnight decision to make, here’s what happened…

“So, this story begins as all good ones do; backstage at the first ever London Queer Fashion Show, now part of Fashion Week. I was assisting on the hair team on behalf of Hair:Mastered and it was manic as ever, but great fun. One of the models approached me amidst all the chaos to say his photographer friend needed a hairstylist for a shoot the next day, and thought I’d be a good fit for the team. Even though I was due back in Glasgow the next morning, I was curious about the shoot and so asked him to send me the details.

“When the photographer, Tré, got in touch with the information for the shoot, the concept looked amazing. He was part of a duo, Tré and Elmaz, who had the most beautiful portfolio, and the model they had lined up, Mide, was absolutely incredible. The only problem was Mide had afro hair, and at the time, I had little experience working with non-caucasian textures. However, the draw of both the team and the concept meant I really wanted to be involved, so after getting the go ahead from the salon to stay another day for the shoot, I decided to take the plunge and got on board.

“It is important at this stage to say I did not just show up, hope for the best and completely wing it – that would be very unprofessional, and really just quite unfair to the rest of the team! Instead, I rapidly left the buzz of the post-show team drinks, headed back to my tiny hotel room and studied everything I could find online about afro hair. And I must express my gratitude to Errol Douglas, as he has the most amazing hints and tips generously available to view online, which I devoured.

“In a twist of fate, as I began to go through my kit, I found that someone had chucked an oil from the show’s product sponsor Windle & Moodie into my bag when we were tidying up backstage. This was a massive life saver, as it ended up being the only afro-suitable product I really had! After hours of tidying out my kit, swatting online and minimal sleep, it was shoot time. I arrived at the studio, and straight away got a great feeling about the shoot. When Mide arrived, I sat down and chatted to her about her hair for a while before I set to work. The shoot was for a luxury brand, Aaizél, so the products were the focus of each shot, but they were to be showcased in really creative ways, giving me a great chance to play around with the hair.

“Thankfully, all my meticulous research paid off and it gave me a great foundation for working with Mide’s hair. As we made our way through the looks, I started to feel more and more confident and able to contribute to the team and compliment their work. Not only are the final images amazing, but the experience pushed me well out of my comfort zone, which led to me having more belief in my abilities. I am so glad I took the plunge on this one, and it has encouraged me to take more risks, as well as proving the importance of constantly evolving and learning.”

Hair: Emma Diamond
Make-Up: Ben Dniprowskij
Photography: Tré Koch and Abdulla Elmaz
Styling: Carlos Mangubat
Art Direction: Ash K Halliburton
Model: Mide