Meet the NAHA Finalists: AVANT GARDE

By Chandler Rollins | 06/28/2013 10:29:00 AM

 

              AVANT GARDE

 

It's that time of the year again. The North American Hairdressing Awards Ceremony or NAHA is is here! Before we kick off the celebration, get to know our finalists for this year's competition.  These uber-talented stylists invested considerable time, talent and energy into their entries. CLICK the name of the Avant Garde finalist (Matt Swinney, Nicholas French, Jake Thompson, Michael Albor and Martin Alarie) you would like to meet.

Don't forget to tune in on July 14, 2013 at 10pm EST for the EXCLUSIVE live broadcast of the 2013 NAHA Awards Gala at modernsalon.com/naha. And be sure to join the conversations on twitter with the hashtag #NAHALIVE.

 

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                         MATT SWINNEY

                              Evolution Hair Studio, Minneapolis, MN


 What did you do when you found out you were a NAHA 2013 finalist? Who did you tell/call first?

"I took a very deep breath, gave thanks to all the creative energy in the world and then called my wife."

Describe your inspiration, vision and theme for your NAHA entry.

"I took my inspiration for this collection from two places, one of which was the elements of life earth, water, and fire. I really wanted the photos to create movement in the creative mind. My second inspiration came from the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. I walked around there the day before the shoot tapping into the energy of all the amazingly creative artists."

How has entering NAHA made you a better hairdresser?

"Naha has made me a better stylist by reminding me to push my personal comfort levels and to never give up. It is only hair. It cannot defeat you, only you can defeat yourself."

What is (and when was) the most NAHA-worthy work you have ever created for an actual paying client?

"I believe every client should have their stylist’s theme song playing in their head when they leave the salon. You know, the theme song you hear when you are going out and looking good. That’s your theme song."

What year did you first enter NAHA? Who helped or inspired you?

"2008 was my first entry. I was a finalist but I did not win. One of my best buds, Oscar Bond, challenged me to do it. He also taught me what a good photo is and to never give up. I am forever grateful for that."

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                         NICHOLAS FRENCH

                               Matrix Salon, New York, NY


What did you do when you found out you were a NAHA 2013 finalist? Who did you tell/call first?

Nicolas French: I opened up a bottle of champagne as I had just arrived back from Toronto.  I called family first and then friends.

Describe your inspiration, vision and theme for your NAHA entry.

My inspiration for NAHA was drawn from my experience with the wounded warriors program at Matrix/L'Oreal.  This changed my opinion forever of the strength and resolve of the women warriors of today.  They make the same sacrifices that their medieval counterparts suffered. This experience birthed the concept and became the backbone of the attitude and mood of the Urban Warriors Shoot."

How has entering NAHA made you a better hairdresser?

"Working through the camera, always develops a clean eye and a sense of creating perfection.  I have worked through the camera for many years and have worked with top photographers and film directors, which has helped me immensely."

What is (and when was) the most NAHA-worthy work you have ever created for an actual paying client?

"My work is avant garde. It does not relate to a client."

What year did you first enter NAHA? Who helped or inspired you?

"I first entered NAHA in 2006 when I won the avant garde category for the first time. I have always been inspired by my father, Freddy French, who was an iconic hairdresser in the 50's in London."

 

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                           JAKE THOMPSON

                          Lunatic Fringe Salon, Salt Lake City, UT


What did you do when you found out you were a NAHA 2013 finalist? Who did you tell/call first?

" I screamed in joy, 'Yes, Yes, Yes!'  It was such an amazing moment to see my name go across the screen. I called my mom first then I called my friend Kelsey. As I was in the middle of my conversation, I saw that my employee, Jeremy McDougle, made Newcomer of the Year. Then my business partner, Andrew Carruthers, made Men's Hairstylist of the Year. Then our artistic team made Salon Team of the Year.  It was crazy." 

Describe your inspiration, vision and theme for your NAHA entry.

"My collection last year was very colorful, so this years’ inspiration was minimal simplicity peppered with a futuristic vibe."   

How has entering NAHA made you a better hairdresser?

"It's made me appreciate the details in everything, and has challenged me to do things right the first time. Since I've shot my past three years’ collections, I've grown to appreciate old school hairdressers and how they approach collections. They did it right the first time, because they didn't have technology to fall back on."

What is (and when was) the most NAHA-worthy work you have ever created for an actual paying client?

"My most NAHA-worthy work on a client was at a wedding. It was some of the coolest wedding hair I've ever done." 

What year did you first enter NAHA? Who helped or inspired you?

"I was nominated for NAHA for the first time in 2007. Nobody inspired me to do it. I just wanted a way to spread my wings creatively!" 

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                             MICHAEL ALBOR 

                                 The Loft Salon, Boston, MA


What did you do when you found out you were a NAHA 2013 finalist? Who did you tell/call first?

"When I saw our work I was so excited. We were at work and Michael was with a client so I didn’t want to ruin the surprise until he could come watch the video too. It wasn’t easy to keep it in, but as soon as he was done, we celebrated. Then I texted my kids."

Describe your inspiration, vision and theme for your NAHA entry.

"This shoot was an inspiration that stemmed from how designers create three collections a year, but hair stylists create unique and beautiful designs every day. We wanted to emphasize the designing aspects of hair. It was also heavily influenced by Alexander McQueen’s dresses at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City."

How has entering NAHA made you a better hairdresser?

"Being involved in NAHA has made me more aware of hair structure and design. It’s inspiring to see the quality of work that’s out there, and to see so many people so passionate about their craft."

What is (and when was) the most NAHA-worthy work you have ever created for an actual paying client?

"At The Loft, we try to make each and every client feel as though they have award-winning hair. We think that having clients leave feeling beautiful and confident is its own kind of hair award."

What year did you first enter NAHA? Who helped or inspired you?


"The first time I entered was 2010, and I did it with Michael Albor, who has always been my biggest mentor and inspiration."

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                              MARTIN ALERIE

                                 Salon Pure, Montreal, Quebec


What did you do when you found out you were a NAHA 2013 finalist? Who did you tell/call first?

"When I found out I was a NAHA finalist, I screamed and then I called my mom because she offered to pay for my trip to Vegas if I was a finalist."

Describe your inspiration, vision and theme for your NAHA entry.

"This collection is called 'The Saints' and is inspired by a sculpture by the French renaissance artist Le Bernin, 'Saint Teresa’s Ecstasy'. I wanted the photos to have some kind of an artistic blur and work on the hair's transparency."

How has entering NAHA made you a better hairdresser?

"Entering NAHA every year since 2006 allowed me to meet some of the most renowned hairstylists of today. It pushes me to create the best work that I can possibly achieve because you know you are going to be judged or compete with those hairstylists." 

What is (and when was) the most NAHA-worthy work you have ever created for an actual paying client? (Do you have an image of it?  Please forward if you can.) 

"The work that I do in the salon is pretty similar to what I shoot in my collections. I just let loose with my creative side when I am shooting."

What year did you first enter NAHA? Who helped or inspired you?

"The first time I entered NAHA was in 2006 in the 'Black and White,' salon team winner collection from Salon Pure." 

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VIEW THEIR ENTIRE COLLECTION BELOW

MEET THE NAHA FINALIST: Matt Swinney/Avant Garde
MEET THE NAHA FINALIST: Nicholas French/Avant Garde
MEET THE NAHA FINALIST: Jake Thompson/Avant Garde

MEET THE NAHA FINALIST: Michael Albor/Avant Garde
MEET THE NAHA FINALIST: Martin Alarie/Avant Garde

 

 

 

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Chandler Rollins

Chandler Rollins, Associate Editor | Modern Salon | Salon Today | First Chair

Since October 2013, Chandler has worked at Modern Salon Media producing print and online content. For MODERN SALON magazine, she contributes to the Style Watch, Ask the Experts, Modern Man, Face and Body, Product Spotlight and Goods. On modernsalon.com, Chandler assists with posting blogs and articles, the Product section and product reviews.

You can contact Chandler on Google+ or through email at crollins@modernsalon.com

 


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