Quick-fire quiz with John Vial

Describe yourself in three words

A f***ing nightmare!

Name three places that are guaranteed sources of inspiration for you?

The Queen Adelaide (an LGBT pub in the East End of London), Central Saint Martins/The Royal College of Art, and the Zaha Hadid Gallery

If I could work with one person, it would be…

If I hadn’t already worked with him, I would say Martin Margiela. I love Steven Meisel

My greatest teacher/mentor was…

My mother. She taught me the importance of laughter, even if it was at yourself. She was the most decent, fair, loyal human being I know. She would constantly ask me how other people might feel, and how would I feel if I were in their shoes. I try very hard to be like her. If I only manage to achieve 10% of her qualities I’ll die a decent human being

What’s the one piece of advice you would pass on to any hairdresser looking for fresh ideas?

Don’t be afraid to get it wrong. Better to have tried and got it wrong than wonder how it might have turned out

The hairdresser you should Google immediately is…

In the spirit of nurturing new talent I’m always looking for a new rising star. Currently it’s Sarah Wood – @neciashairstyling on Insta

What’s the secret to presenting to an audience?

  1. Be prepared!
  2. Know your subject
  3. Know your audience
  4. Know your key messages
  5. Most importantly, be the best version of yourself!

What infuriates you about modern hairdressing?

Technology makes a lot of people too fond of instant gratification. In hairdressing, as with any craft, there are no short cuts. It’s a weird thin, but the more I’ve practiced, the luckier I’ve become

What’s the biggest mistake you’ve ever made… and what did you learn from it?

Probably going on stage unprepared with no nevers. Fatal… 

Finish this sentence: young ambitious hairdressers today need to…?

Put their f***ing back into it! 

The look you wished you’d created?


If only they would bring back…

An electric hot comb for finger waves

I’ll never tire of…

Working with young people. I love their energy

How do you first approach any new project?

With my eyes closed. I think you need to try and approach anything creatively, with no pre-conceived ideas or parameters. Try and make your mind blank, the way a child would

What do you need surrounding you to be able to work?


If I hadn’t been a hairdresser, I would have…

… Probably taken the apprenticeship that I was offered at British Rail. I often wonder what my life would have been like now…

What skill should stylists learn that isn’t hair-related?

Body language!

The most exciting place I’ve worked was…

Japan. I was on tour with Vidal, we were in the back of a limousine and the car was literally mobbed by crowds of adoring hairdressers (I think they were for Vidal 😉 )

What excites you most about hairdressing right now?

The idea of the virtual classroom. Maybe hair cutting from afar? Like surgeons can, with robotic arms?

The most important thing you need to succeed in hairdressing is…

A desire to be the best. A Players hire A Players. B Players hire C Players!