It is the city where Vasco da Gama set sail for new worlds so it is fitting that Lisbon, Portugal be the site of the American Crew All-Star Challenge, a hair styling/grooming and photographic competition that launches careers. But first, the finalists from around the world must set out on uncharted waters in a voyage of discovery. (Yes, I am continuing this metaphor...) They must ask themselves, what will my model look like when it comes my time to choose? Will my nerves get the best of me when I pick up my shears? How will my vision translate on camera?
During two days of photo shoots, I watched every hairdresser find their footing, their competition sea legs. Training, experience, muscle memory and their innate talent and drive kicked in and they remembered that they had earned the right to be one of only 14 to compete for a global title.
The North American competitors--Bradford Davison from the United States and Jacob Rozenberg from Canada--spoke with me briefly during a day that took them on a journey--from drawing lots for model choice, to approaching this new canvas and mapping out a plan of action, to performing the actual cut and styling and then walking on set with American Crew founder and accomplished photographer David Raccuglia for their photo shoot. What emerged in our conversations was a peek into their past and the recognition that these men had been preparing for this moment since they were boys.
Bradford Davison's first concert--at the precocious age of four--was heavy metal hair band, Twisted Sister. He didn't toddle into the hairspray-infused hall alone; his father took him. And as he grew, Davison's family watched as his hairstyles ran the gamut; he did the Rat Tail, the dreaded Mullet, the River Phoenix heavy, brooding bang and even the Portrait Studio pose.
“My mother said that I always had whatever style I wanted," said Davison. "I also pierced my ear at five and first dyed my hair at seven."
A photo shared on Instagram for #ThrowbackThursday shows an eight-year-old Jacob Rozenberg styling his friend Isabel Johnson's hair.
"I started in Grade 11, taking hairdressing as an elective in school," said Rozenberg. "And since I was 16, I have been at the salon."
Both of these hairdressers have beautifully represented their countries at this global event and they will be with their fellow finalists as the winner of the challenge is announced on Monday night in Lisbon. Watch, too, for the reveal of their final photo pics and more interviews and photos to come from all the finalists. It's smooth sailing ahead when this crew is steering the ship.