To be given the opportunity to be the creative director for the largest menswear show was amazing – but for a while I couldn’t think how I was going pull it off!
So what was it like to style a record-breaking 105 models for the largest-ever menswear show?
The Ozwald Boateng show was a crazy day! It was before London Collection Men’s existed, so it was very new and exciting. Working in fashion was something I’d always dreamed of doing and, as a barber, these opportunities do not come around very readily. Session work tends to be a tight network of hairdressers, not barbers, so to be given this amazing opportunity to be the creative director for the largest menswear show was very exciting – but for a while I couldn’t think how I was going pull it off! The most important part of the process was building a team that had a variety of skills that could fulfil the brief. It’s key to have a network of people that complement you and your vision. You don’t necessarily have to be good at everything, but you need to know how to get the best out of your team. It’s all about the end results!
How did you make it work without it being complete chaos?
It was chaos, but organised chaos! We had five hours to style over 105 models, so there needed to be some kind of system. I had to come up with unique looks for all the models to showcase the different waves of men’s fashion within Ozwald Boateng’s 25 years in the fashion industry. We created different tribes, and each look had to sit within a specific tribe. I prepped solidly for two days, sorting the models into categories so that on the day we had a factory-type scenario. We had separate cutting and styling stations, so that one stylist would do the beard trims and another would be applying the product. It was a conveyor belt of hair styling and once I’d signed off the final look, they were sent off to the clothes stylist and then out onto the runway!
What do you think the main differences are between styling backstage at women’s and men’s shows?
It’s the time taken on each model. When you’re working on men’s shows, you’re not dealing with nearly as much hair as on a women’s show, so prep time is greatly reduced.
Do you offer any education to prepare barbers for styling backstage?
Our online Foss Academy provides comprehensive education in all areas of male grooming, session styling and self-development.
Your top advice and tips for budding male grooming session stylists?
Make your weaknesses your strengths and focus your skills on speed and precision. Also, be prepared to roll up your sleeves, get stuck in and leave your ego at home!