Industry News

Hair for Awards Season and Finding Our Way Back to Greatness

Harold Leighton | February 3, 2014 | 2:33 PM
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Harold Leighton
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I have had strong feelings for many years that the Oscars should nominate hairdressers for an award. The movies could never get that certain period image of history on the screen without the talents of a professional hairdresser in tandem with the clothes designers. What more does the hairdresser need to get their name in lights?

  Last year I wrote in the press of my sadness about 'quality hair' and have had to write yet again this year how we are missing out on style and a need to regroup and get back into the business of designing exciting hair! And making the hair industry rock again as we did in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s!

 Getting back to basics, all fashion industries need a boost to sell more clothes, for example, color changing each season, new design in fabrics, skirt lengths, or showing some skin in a sexy looking dress. Utilizing movie stars for promoting haircuts and products. This is what sells fashion, so why doesn't our industry emulate the fashion industry! Where are our creative men and women? I know you're there! I personally know some of the best talents in the industry; unfortunately they are not from the now! They are from a way back.

Hair for Awards Season and Finding Our Way Back to Greatness

 I was bitterly upset and extremely disappointed when I saw 2013 December Allure magazine (in my opinion) some of the worst hair photos published for a long time, from the autumn fashion shows. There is 'scruff'' and there is scruff! I know hair is much more free falling and more natural than ever, but just left un-styled means we are sending our salon clients off to do their own hair. It is so untidy, pins and clips showing, with hair that does not suit the model, and little thought about the shape of her face. There are a myriad of things that I think are very import and that go into producing a quality shot! In my opinion, session hairdressers have lost their way over the last few years.

But who knows - maybe this year will be their year to shine! Through the recession, salons suffered just like other businesses, and the only way we can bring back the demand is to be creative, exciting, to offer great service, good quality hair-cutting, (and not reducing the price to some ridiculous figure!) I HAVE SEEN HAIRCUTS PRICED AT $5 AND $6 DOLLARS! IT WAS NEVER THIS PRICE SOME FORTY YEARS AGO! WHAT IS OUR INDUSTRY THINKING! Coloring in salons, this is where the money is!

 We lost our leader two years ago, the position is now open. He would want this for a young talented artistic hairdresser who had something very, very, special - who could lead the hair industry to new heights, and in doing so change the terrible state of hairdressing! The king is dead long live the king!!

 Go back to the yesteryears of beautiful looking hair and photography with a camera, not a telephone camera! The quality of work that came out onto the pages of the top magazines such as Vogue, Harpers, Allure, and Elle. Look at all those incredible photographers that encouraged our industry super session hairdressing stars. Not too many exciting creative looks from pages around now! The young beauty editors do not know the photos and images from yesteryear.  Hair is in a ponytailor hanging straight with just a bend or some sort of movement, nothing that a client cannot do herself and it saddens me. Conversely, look at the Pantene ads they are photographed with style, and they have a quality which I rarely come across now, and you can see their art directors have put a lot of thought into it, and for me it stands out. I asked Superstar photographer David Montgomery (the man that took the most important haircut photo for Vidal Sassoon and has photographed Andy Warhol to the Stones) why do the photographs not have the quality now as they did in the 60's, 70's and 80's? His reply - you need to work with film to achieve grain, depth, and mood, the lighting is so different now. In my opinion the photos do not have this ‘moody’ feel as they had yesterday.

 I have selected some photos from the Helen Oppenheim archive of photos, from her collection of works for La Coupe.  Helen is a former PR and Creative Director. Her talent and works she has produced is wonderful adn with a great eyest that she has for creating the picture. Just look at the simplicity of line, the amount of thought that goes into a shoot. With the missoin of making women look even more beautiful, she really inspired her hairdressing team.

 Come on all the session hairdressers of today, lets see your creative talent come forth and again capture the fashion world as we did then. - You know who you are! From the USA and UK? Plan now in this New Year and let's not waste anymore time.

 I love this industry and its people too much to let this be bypassed into the history books.

All Photographs Produced and Directed by Helen Oppenheim. For more, go to HairThen, La Coupe on

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