Going Eclectic: Sebastian's What's Next Awards Winners Collaborate On Set

Elizabeth Jakaitis | August 1, 2016 | 8:00 AM
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The Professional // Hair by Damaris Earlewine
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The Student // Hair by Safiya Aboaen
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The Affiliate // GianPaolo Colombo
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The What’s Next Awards, Sebastian’s annual hair design competition, is changing the game for innovative hairdressers comfortable creating strong, intricate silhouettes. This competition is extraordinary in that the finalists meet their models for the first time at the live competition and must rely on their skills, talent and creativity to create a finish, on stage, in front of a live audience.


The winners of the most recent What’s Next Awards competition, held earlier this year in Miami, were, and are, extraordinary. Professional category winner Damaris Earlewine, Affiliated Artist category winner GianPaolo Colombo and Student category winner Safiya Aboaen earned the top honor in the competition for their fearless finishes and artistic creations in their respective categories.


Part of the grand prize for the winners was a photoshoot with MODERN SALON to be held the day after the competition. The artists, already proving they can think on the spot, were tasked with creating fresh silhouettes each based on the new Sebastian collection, Eclectic.


Eclectic’s heavily textured, braided and undone finishes, created by Sebastian Professional Global Art Directors Michael Polsinelli and Shay Dempsey, test the limits of self-expression with textures that are juxtaposed and unexpected, incorporating braids and deconstructed rough and smooth finishes.



• Repurposed Items: Shapes enhanced buckles, clips, sticks and strips of leather, which are deconstructed and repurposed into hair jewelry.

• Unexpected Blends: Key to the collection are unexpected blends where products are used to transform the fiber of hair. Texture, volume and shine fuse to form unexpected connections, building the perfect base and twisting together into new-to-the-eye effects.

• The Body Artistic: Celebrated tattoo artist Maxime Buchi brings his vision to the mix with exclusive designs created for each collection look, and haircare products in a limited edition line-up.


Hair: Safiya Aboaen, Damaris Earlewine, GianPaolo Colombo

Mentors: Christina McCarver, Carole Protat

Photographer: Roberto Ligresti

Makeup artist: Eric Allen

Fashion stylist: Rod Novoa


The Professional

“The What’s Next Awards has enriched me with a profound respect for what it means to be a hairdresser,” Earlewine says. “This competition has reignited a fi re within me to push outside boundaries I felt were once impossible.” One of the best parts of the competition was working with the other competitors, she says. “The challenge and excitement of working together with a team to display our fi nal look was intense but, in the end, extremely rewarding. I think as artists we want to carry that excitement with us in our daily lives as hairdressers. Sebastian’s competition has taught me that working under pressure can bring about spontaneous creativity. I will continue to seek opportunities to evolve as an artist and carry that enthusiasm in everything that I do.”


For this look, Earlewine chose to portray an effortless flow of individuality with each model while still staying in line with the collection. “I wanted to showcase a unique form of self-expression by utilizing unexpected accessories like paper clips, toothpicks and leather lace. I took it a further step by even spray painting the paper clips and toothpicks to create a custom look.”


Hair: Damaris Earlewine, Professional category winner, Liberty Salon, Rancho Mirage, California

Products: Sublimate fi nishing creme, Dark Oil, Shine Crafter, Gel Forte, Dry Clean Only



The Student

“What’s Next was like a springboard for me,” Aboaen says. “As a student, I was hesitant and nervous. Winning has made me confident in my own creativity which is vital in this industry. The competition changed me for the better.” Although Aboaen used the Eclectic collection as the basis for her finished looks for this photoshoot, she says that she also incorporated inspiration from Metamorphik, the collection used for the live competition. “It made me think of evolution,” she says. “The combined collections allow such complete transformations. I like how I can create something modern and the products allow maximum wild volume or perfectly placed sleekness.”


Hair: Safiya Aboaen, HL Cuts Above, Niagara Falls, ON, Canada

Products: Shaper Plus, Shine Define



The Affiliate

“I have always felt strongly about competition and challenging myself as an artist, because that continues to motivate and push me,” Colombo says. “The importance of shape, silhouette and being polished and clean when fi nishing your work are key aspects in live competition.” Colombo says What’s Next is changing the game for all competitive hairdressers. “It is probably one of the hardest but most inspiring competitions out there,” he says. “You have to be creative, focused and think on the spot. It has changed the way I look at and see hair. It has forced me to see hair in a three-dimensional way and to see what I have to do to make the hair come alive.” 


For this finished look Colombo was inspired by mixing and matching different elements. The gravity-defying braided ponytail is kept airborne through the use of the tight leather strap and the nails embedded in the lengths.


Hair: GianPaolo Colombo, Hair After, Aurora, ON, Canada

Products: Penetraitt, Dark Oil, Dry Clean Only, Sublimate finishing creme, Shaper hairspray, Craft Play, Shine Define




1. Apply Sublimate styling cream on wet hair from mid shaft to ends. Blowdry straight. Take a triangular section above the recession to the back of the crown and isolate. Create one ponytail at the occipital and secure. Wrap the ponytail with the leather, keeping tight. The tight wrapping allows for more control and bend, and the gravity defying finish.


2. Take the isolated top section and apply Craft Play for control. Design a loose French braid along the top directing back toward the occipital.


3. Remove one-inch vertical sections above each temple to be used later (to break up the harmony of the line). Join the braid and ponytail together and secure the ends with a leather strap.


4. Place nails in the ponytail to embellish and secure the leather. Shape the fringe strands. Finish with Shaper hairspray.


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