Striving for a sustainable future with Simon Webster and Vin+Omi

Show-stopping silhouettes and intricate wig work driven by sustainability – come behind the scenes of the Vin+Omi A/W22 show to find out more about the dynamic duo’s partnership with KMS and hair lead, Simon Webster 

Simon Webster's hair team backstage at Vin+Omi A/W22

Kicking off the A/W22 schedule, Vin+Omi brought their latest fashion innovations to the ballroom of The Dorchester in London to deliver a groundbreaking show that placed sustainability firmly at the forefront. Entitled ‘art’, the show shone a spotlight on the epic archives of Vin+Omi, highlighting the many years of experimentation and groundbreaking designs the duo have produced to date.

“We wanted to go back to our roots – back to when we first started 21 years ago – where we’d create art pieces on the catwalk,” explained Omi in an interview with Creative HEAD. “We want to push sustainability in a very different direction. We’ve always been a brand that doesn’t adhere to rules and regulations; we’ve always had this really punk attitude with what we want to create.” 

As well as reworking older garments, this season saw Vin+Omi introduce the world’s first ‘plant leather’ piece, crafted from a fabric made entirely of chestnuts. It was worn on the runway by model Jo Wood, former wife of The Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood and long time friend of the designers. “It’s taken us seven years to make one dress – it’s not that easy being sustainable,” Omi explained, touching on the shifting cultural attitudes towards sustainability. “Incubating an idea is more important than flashing an idea. You can’t really design and innovate every six months. We’re using backlogs of work we’ve been innovating over the past 21 years. And in that 21 years, we only started showing eight years ago!” 

Driven by the goal to inspire long-lasting change in the fashion industry, Vin+Omi chose once again to partner with KMS to produce the hair looks for the show – a great match for a designer duo focused solely on sustainability. “KMS lets us create anything we want to create because they understand the ideology,” Omi said. “Working with [hair lead] Simon (Webster) is like a dream. We have the same craziness and energy and he’s done so many shows in the past that I have worked on. He understands the process and really complements what we’re doing.” 

A united effort

In a show where no two looks are the same, it was no small feat for Simon and his team to create a wardrobe of wigs and interchangeable headpieces, alongside adaptable core hair looks to enhance the garments hitting the runway. “To compliment the specific Vin+Omi designs, hair took a focus on sustainability,” said Simon. “Considering the biggest culprit for salon waste is hair, I made sculptural creations using only hair cuttings. Plus, over 100 used wigs were donated to the show from local theatres and museums.” 

I think it’s one of the most crazy shows I’ve ever worked on in 20 years of doing Fashion Week!Simon Webster

We grabbed whatever materials we could. We haven’t paid for anything as that’s the whole idea behind this show – sustainability. It’s about making good with what you’ve got.Simon Webster

The donated wigs were blended with the natural hair cuttings to create a felted hair fabric. These cuttings had been gathered from Simon’s salon to build hair-mats, sheets, and bases that were used to craft the larger creations in the line up. “I feel a bit like a Womble actually – gathering all the things to put together,” Simon added jokingly during an interview backstage. “Some of the pieces have been quite challenging. When we want the huge pieces we’ve had to find wigs to match, colour them or use the KMS Style Colour temporary sprays to match the tones.” In addition, some wigs featured recycled KMS salon plastic, with clear bottles arranged together as a deconstructed beehive, with lighting added to illuminate the bottle shapes. 

As well as larger-than-life wigs, Simon and his team created various versions of twisted ‘Liberty spikes’. For this, Simon explained that “positioning was key.” Hair was prepped using KMS Hair Stay Working Hairspray before the team used KMS Hair Play Moulding Paste to “run around the base of the section and twist, before turning the section into a Bantu knot.” Foam insulation – normally used to protect piping – was then fitted to each knot and pinned to the head. Finally, sections of fabric were placed around the piping to create movement when walking down the runway. 

Simon’s Kitbag Essentials
  • “For the bases, in particular the beehives, we’ve been using KMS Add Volume Styling Foam. It works really well to give thickness, fullness and volume. It gives the grippy texture that you need.”
  • “The KMS Hair Stay Working Hairspray has enabled us to create shape and form, without making hair too sticky. Plus, you can re-work it each time.
  • “Once you’ve finally got the look how you want it, the KMS Hair Stay Firm Finishing Hairspray is there to seal the deal.” 

See more from Simon backstage at Vin+Omi over on Instagram > 

Model with braided wig

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