Lisa Farrall on the realities of styling for live performances

by | 7 Apr 2022

What if your fashion look needs to last not just for a shoot or show, but an entire tour set? We caught up with Most Wanted Texture Expert winner, Lisa Farrall, to discuss the unique challenges of styling for live performances 

Lisa Farrall backstage at BRIT Awards 2022

Working with musicians on stage or switching to session work is just a regular day in the life for Lisa Farrall. “I work on a lot of music videos, which is very similar to session work. “There’s always a lot of pressure; you can be working in anything from a hotel room to a studio. It’s always very fast paced – you could be left with very minimal time with the dancers after rehearsals. You have to keep calm and work quickly.” 

Having worked with a whole host of celebrities and musicians, such as Harry Styles and Kendrick Lamar, Lisa has had many incredible experiences during her career. One of her favourites so far? “The 2022 BRIT Awards with Ed Sheeran and Bring Me The Horizon was such an energising, amazing experience with my entire team. I’m so proud of that.” The hair looks seen on the night were heightened for the live performance, recreating and exaggerating styles from the Bad Habits music video, which Lisa also worked on.

For Lisa, the creative process begins with conversations with the artists, alongside either their management or the director and creative director. “Everyone will come together to talk but there’s generally a theme in place, which the artists would have a lot of involvement in deciding,” Lisa explains. “This means I need to speak to the creative director and the artists to decide on the hair look for the performance, as the artist will still want it to feel like it’s authentic to them.” 

While authenticity is paramount, Lisa also stresses the importance of creating a hair look for the stage which is extraordinary. “It can’t be regular… But you also have to think about the lighting and movement during the performance,” she adds. “It could be that onstage there are dancers or extras that are jumping about… going upside down. It could also be that the stage is very dark or is only lit in certain areas. These are all things that you have to take into account – movement is a huge thing.”

“For the BRITS performance, it was about misfits and the Punk era,” she explains. “We had to create different characters for the dancers, which also included aerial artists coming from the ceiling and break dancers. I had to consider what each character was going to be doing, so with the aerial artists we couldn’t create a style which would restrict them or get caught on the ropes. When it comes to the artists themselves, they already have their own individual style. So unless it’s like a big theme, you’re just working with what they have.” 

And what is Lisa’s secret weapon when working backstage? “I always have a Wahl kit bag with me which I keep all of my hairsprays, brushes, clips, pins etc in,” she says. “I also always carry a mix of hair extensions, just in case I need to do any changes super quickly. The Cloud Nine Cordless Iron is also great for being able to do touch-ups on stage.”

Models with hair by Lisa Farrall's team at BRIT awards 2022

Ahead of the performance, Lisa’s Activator mentee, Leanne, also worked backstage to help with the hair looks. “She worked with my first assistant Lindsey and me; I threw her in at the deep end!” Lisa exclaims. “She excelled and felt that she learned so much, which is a beautiful thing. I think it was a great chance to have first-hand session experience on such a high-profile event. I think it’s one she’ll never forget.” 

For anyone else looking to gain experience in the session world, Lisa’s main advice is to assist, assist, assist! “Always be willing to roll your sleeves up and get stuck in. Remain professional at all times and be authentic. I think it’s about having respect for yourself, and respect for whoever is on your team, but also just putting yourself out there. Reach out to people using social media.” 

See more from Lisa Farrall > 

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