The Story Behind the Hair

Harold Leighton, one of our wonderful guest bloggers and an award-winning hairdresser and editorial stylist with countless stories --some he can tell and some will remain his secret, forever--shares a little about his creative process in this blog interview.  We also wanted to know a bit about the story behind this photo.

MS: Tell us a little bit about this photo, Harold. 

HL: It's from around 1967 and the photographer was John Hedgcoe and the model is Sally Montgomery. Her husband (Robert) was one of the top photographer agents in London. His brother is David Montgomery who photographed Vidal's famous Bob.

My method was to create the hair, develop the story, have the photo shoot and give the finished selected shots to my PR, Caroline Neville, one of the top PR for Fashion and Beauty. She was a young Cockney girl that wanted to go places, like us all of us then. She is still at the top with her company, she is President of the UK's division of  "Cosmetic Executive Women"  and has the best beautybrand companies in her profile.

So, at first my goal was develop the story to give to the appropriate magazine, like Hairdressers Journal. I was not ready for Vogue; my name had to be strong in the industry, first. As that developed, I found myself doing show and photographic work for  the UK & international companies--Schwartzkopf, Wella, L'Oreal, Clynol, Bristol Myers/Clairol. This was the sixties in London. It was all new to me but I learnt fast and  PR was a new game to enjoy. My wife, Maxine, had opened up her French boutique above the salon I had in Hampstead just a few miles outside the center of London. Between us--me, Max and Caroline-- we discovered a new world and we had the correct formula to attract the press.

MS: What was the mood or look you were going for in this shot?

HL: I was always looking for a 'difference' in style. I was contracted to work with the company Monsanto, a Dynel Fiber American company that was in the wig business. In this hair shot I was using their product, a very difficult material to work with, but great for being creative.  I was one of a few hairdressers that could work this fiber.  I had first seen it used by Gene Shacove in American Vogue.  He was one of the most creative American hairdressers of his time.  Seeing what he had done I really saw the creative potential in using it. 

MS: How did you achieve it? 

HL: I played around with tying knots, It just happened, every day was a learning day.


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