Industry News

Lunch with Richard Thompson

Maggie Mulhern | July 10, 2011 | 6:19 PM

There's no free lunch. Modern's Maggie Mulhern sat down with this month's guest contributor, Richard Thompson, founder of the world-famous Mahogany salon group headquartered in Oxford, England, and World Creative Director of Alfaparf Milano. Maggie made Richard sing for his salad. Here's what he said:


Lunch with Richard ThompsonMy best day as a hairdresser: Being asked to cut Twiggy's hair back to a bob about five years ago. She came in with long, layered hair for a photo session [and] after the shoot, she said, "You know, I really want you to cut my hair off in a bob." We had to shoot it again, it looked so great. This was to launch her make-up line. The product line bombed, but her hair looked great!

My worst day: I was doing a show in Bangkok. I did all the prep with the models and rehearsal. We were all set to go; my team was ready; the models were fantastic. The stage was magnificent, lined with white orchids. We patiently waited for our sold-out crowd of 3,000 to arrive. No one came. It turned out that the organizers put the wrong date on the ticket. It was a week off. We all just went to the bar. I flew home the next day.

My pet: My Irish wolfhound named Grainne, a Gaelic name. She was named after the girlfriend of the last king of Ireland.

My favorite drink: A beautiful bottle of Pinot Noir.

Longest distance client: Barbara comes from San Diego every two or three months. She doesn't let anyone else do her hair. I met her in Australia at a dive center.

Why I got into the profession: I knew it was a good way to get laid! Let me re-phrase...a good way to meet girls. I am married now. My wife was a client. Now she can't get an appointment.

How I came up with the name Mahogany: It was a nickname from when I was training. I had to produce three models every three months. I was a hippie and was very "natural," using teas [for glazing]. My teachers would say "Oh, they must be Richard's models-they're mahogany." Then, when I designed the first salon, I wanted it to be a girls' version of a men's club. I used wood from a sustainable forest."

My favorite tool: Fan Out shears 525C. I never use texturizing shears. I wanted to start a culture that could be carried on and be secure for the clients. One of the biggest complaints that a client has is that she goes to one stylist who uses a razor, another that uses a thinning shear. I wanted consistency. We developed techniques to achieve the same look with one tool.

My favorite product: I love Alfaparf's Color Wear demi line. I love my cuts to look really shiny and healthy. This color expands the cut.

Who inspires me: It's so varied. I came out of a White Stripes concert and was totally buzzed up about it. It was raw and new. I am inspired by people. New and neat; the energy of certain people. It could be a film, or could be something that someone said. I get inspired by the beach and seeing the colors.

Once you stop learning, you go backwards. This makes continuing education key. Continuing education is what moves us forward. It leapfrogs you.

I am lucky because:  I travel the world. I believe what you are exposed to influences you. I am exposed to a lot. If you don't go anywhere or do anything, you won't get inspired.

What makes a great makeover: The girl.

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