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It has become a holiday tradition for artist, photographer and product innovator Luis Alvarez to collaborate with CosmoProf and MODERN SALON on crafting a powerful, artistic cover for our annual bonus issue dedicated to helping salons prepare for their busiest season.

This year’s process began with a conference call in May with CosmoProf Vice President of Marketing Carolyn Corporon, MODERN SALON Editorial Director Michele Musgrove and Alvarez, co-founder and VP/Creative of Aquage, an exclusive brand partner to CosmoProf. The trio soon agreed that the shoot would take place during the Aquage Academy (aquage.com/academy) in Chicago on June 28.

Next, after reviewing the creative for CosmoProf ’s strong new merchandising program, Alvarez proposed taking the foundation of the concept—a model with a festive, “decorated” rendering in holiday greenery and decorations—and pushing it to the edge, hairdresser style.

“I had a vision of going far beyond embellishing the hair or creating a decorative design, and actually crafting the entire image so the model becomes a living ornament, with flaw-less, finished hair at the center,” Alvarez says.

To help bring the idea to life, Alvarez started with the wardrobe, and called on his many connections with leading fashion designers. Through a special resource in California, he scouted an assortment of intricate, dazzling fantasy gowns and settled on a selection featuring a unique face-framing collar/headpiece, and placed alternates on hold, too—contemplating an extended collection inspired by sparkling assortment. Celebrity Jennifer Lopez also had her eye on the fashions, however, and scooped up the rest for a recent video shoot.

“Fortunately, we still had our favorite,” Alvarez said.

While attendees of the sold-out Aquage Academy in Chicago started their hands-on cutting and design work-shops with the Aquage faculty, Alvarez set up the shoot, incorporating it into a learning experience for attendees who could experience every step and see the results as they evolved.

Alvarez called on master stylist and Aquage team member Ann Bray to create the pristine style to blend with the head piece, and enrolled the talents of a favorite New York-based model—even though the finished look would have looked right at home on one of his other favorite model muses, dancers from Chicago’s Joffrey Ballet. It would be easy to imagine the final composed look in a contemporary waltz of the snowflakes from the Nutcracker ballet.

“Ultimately, we always want this holiday cover to be a gift of inspiration to hairdressers,” Alvarez says. Even when your book is beyond full and you are cranking out your best cuts, color and styling at maximum capacity, remember to look for that extra sparkle, your own decorative flair, your designer’s touch that can take a look from festive to fabulous.

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