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What I’ve learned… from working backstage at Stella McCartney S/S21

From conversations with the designer to shooting on location and the realities of working backstage in a global pandemic, Most Wanted Award-winning hairdresser, Gina Conway, shares all about her experience

Gina Conway

United by shared values and a commitment to sustainability, a perfect partnership was born between Aveda and fashion house Stella McCartney for the launch of the Spring 2021 ready-to-wear collection, featuring both a catwalk and photoshoot on location at Houghton Hall in Norfolk.  With a wealth of experience working backstage at Fashion Week and managing a team of 100 between her successful Aveda Lifestyle salons in London, leading the hair team was Most Wanted 2019 winner for the Best New Salon category, Gina Conway.

Want to know what working on a fashion show during a global pandemic entails? We caught up with Gina to find out…

What was the brief set by Stella McCartney?
Stella wanted to see hair move – keeping that strong, natural aesthetic of the model’s own ‘hipster chic’ look was really important. The brief was to create edgy, visual shapes that complemented her structured pieces. We collaborated to find a look that could move in the wind and have a carefree yet modern, cool feel.

What restrictions were in place and how did this influence what you created?
All of the usual PPE was very strict, which meant that while we were working backstage we had to wear our masks and visors. However, this did not detract from what we needed to do, and as hairdressers we are now very used to working that way within the salon.

As the day involved a photoshoot and a catwalk how did the hair team have to adapt?
The shoot was a blend between a photoshoot and a catwalk, minus the chaos of quick changes and models rushing to get to the next show – it felt relaxed. It was shot with a highly talented group of artists and photographers, creating a message through their work. We always work as a team on set, so although I was the lead stylist, I was happy to collaborate with the other stylist to get the best possible results.

Image from Stella McCartney fashion shoot

Image from Stella McCartney fashion shoot

What was shoot day like? Did you learn anything you’ll be using in your work going forward?
I adored working alongside Stella. I have admired her for years and getting to know her was so refreshing. We share such similar business values with regards to environmental responsibility, so we had some great conversations about how to achieve this on a larger scale. She was shooting for her A-Z Manifesto, which outlines the purpose of her brand through art and storytelling. I had the exact same revelation the day before I met her, and am now creating my own manifesto of work and play. I am truly inspired!

Do you think this approach is the way forward for Fashion Week and beyond?
I hope to see more shows like this – inspiring others to showcase artistry beautifully while reducing the impact environmentally. Thanks to the additional shoot, we have an incredible lasting record that we can look back on for a long time to come.

What would your advice be to fellow hairstylists looking to work on shoots and at Fashion Week?
Always be kind and considerate placing one’s ego aside – it really is NOT about you.  Collaborating with other creatives can bring about true magic, when we set our needs aside.

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