Laura Murphy was thrilled to be paired up with session stylist and salon owner Richard Phillipart as her mentor through Creative HEAD’s Activator scheme. She never thought styling at LFW would be in her future…

Laura Murphy working for the Richard Phillipart hair team at Jack Irving A/W22Laura (left) backstage at Jack Irving

When Galway hairdresser Laura Murphy applied for Activator, the new mentoring scheme launched by Creative HEAD and The Industry, she was excited at what it could bring should she be lucky enough to get selected. Imagine her joy when she was paired with expert session stylist, educator and The Boutique Atelier founder Richard Phillipart. That was just the beginning…

“We’ve had Zoom meetings for the last six months and I was delighted when he asked me to assist on the Jack Irving On|Off London Fashion Week presentation,” says Laura. So, with flights booked, she headed to London with her kit bag.

Laura Murphy working for the Richard Phillipart hair team at Jack Irving A/W22
Laura (right) backstage at Jack Irving

Richard Phillipart working backstage at Jack Irving A/W22
Richard Phillipart backstage at Jack Irving

The Jack Irving A/W22 collection was inspired by sea creatures. Richard sent images of the wet look waves he wanted a few days beforehand, and she practised and perfected them. However, as so often happens in fashion, the elements did not cooperate. “There was a red weather warning for Storm Eunice in London on the day, Richard was down five assistants right away,” she recalls. “Things were manic but he was such a calming, encouraging influence on the team that was able to be there. I greatly admire his professionalism. The looks turned out fantastic in the end.”

Laura showcased her skills further just two days later, when Richard contacted her to work with Johanna Cree Brown on hair for the Ozwald Boateng show, the British-Ghanaian designer’s LFW homecoming after a 12-year hiatus. “It was all about celebrating Black excellence. We prepped and made all the hairpieces we used for the show. It was amazing to learn about braiding from the best.” 

Model with black curled fringe at Jack Irving AW22

Two models backstage at Jack Irving AW22

Model with black hair on the runway at Jack Irving AW22

Laura has been in hairdressing 20 years but had no show or session experience. With another Phillipart project under way and plans to work on more shows later this year, she’s off to a flying start. What’s her advice for stylists looking to embark on a similar journey? “Be prepared for long days and to be extremely flexible. You need to accept criticism well and quickly. I also think it’s extremely important to familiarise yourself with as many hair textures and types as possible.”

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