Masters Degree: A Review of Aquage's Masterclass Academy

Alison Alhamed | October 26, 2012 | 11:12 AM
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A student practices Ann Brays backcombing techniques.
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Students learn to create Aquage’s signature chignons—in less than five minutes.
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Ann Brays classic French twist.
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Eric Fisher with MODERNs Alison Shipley.
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The Aquage Masterclass Academy draws hairdressers from all around the country and at all levels of experience. As the academy covers all areas of the industry— from classic updos, thermal styling techniques, cutting and business education, the Academy attracts stylists seeking to advance their skills in multiple areas.

Day one begins with a welcome by Aquage co-founder Luis Alvarez and an introduction to the line-up of award-winning educators to assist students.

“We like to have one educator for every six students,” says Wanda Alvarez, manager of the registration process, make-up artist and wife of Luis. “The educators rotate from table to table throughout the days, so students get to experience time with all of the educators teaching at the academy.”

The education kicks off with Textural Transformation and Editorial Hairdressing by NAHA winning Michael Albor and Master Stylist Heaven Padgett. The team warms up students by introducing thermal setting techniques using a Marcel iron and flatiron to achieve unique textures and create dramatic silhouettes. Padgett recognizes that not all students are on equal footing—some are more comfortable with updos while others aren’t as experienced.

The team, along with educator Shelly Devlin, demonstrates quick, two-minute updos the class then recreates. By creating a series of knots and weaving half knots through the loops, simple braid-inspired looks are created. Using a hair tie and a few bobby pins, the class learns how to fold the hair into a smooth, iconic Aquage-style chignon—in less than fi ve minutes.

Next up, the Bespoke method of hair stitching is demonstrated. Using Gwen Stefani as an inspiration, pinfree designs are created using weaving thread and a tapestry needle. 

To close day one, award-winning competitor and educator Ann Bray demonstrates her unique method of creating a classic French Twist, with a focus on the art of backcombing. Bray, who was the team trainer for the only U.S. team to ever win gold and be named World Champions at the Hair Olympics, teaches how backcombing can expand forms through having a supporting structure. “Body positioning is so important when backcombing,” Bray says. “If you’re going over the rounds of the head, you need to adjust your elevation and body position.”

Day one hosts the optional Luis Alvarez Image Making class. Alvarez walks attendees through the steps of a photoshoot, from capturing the image to editing the result—along with a review of his favorite published works. Students get the opportunity to ask questions about hiring a photographer, choosing a model, wardrobe selection, branding and questions on lighting and angles.

Day two begins with another optional class for attendees—though most, if not all, students attend: Eric Fisher’s Best Practices and Business Program. Fisher shares his successful salon business practices and systems that have kept business booming in his Wichita, Kansas, salon. Customer service, retailing, marketing and branding are all key points in the session. Students ask questions and get customized feedback from Fisher based on his years of experience in the business. 

The hands-on education kicks off with cutting, where NAHA award winners and educators Shawna Parvin and Fisher push students out of their comfort zone by using organic cutting and texturizing techniques to take the longhaired mannequin up to a close crop by the end of the session.

As Parvin put the focus on graduation, layering and elevation, a big takeaway is ensuring students maintain a consistent degree of projection for a predictable result. At the end of the session, three cuts are created showcasing various texturizing methods, diffusion, balance or disconnection.

Throughout each lesson, the Aquage line up of products is used to get everyone comfortable with the different offerings. From thermal protectors and putty, to working sprays and holding sprays, students receive product knowledge while also learning varying functions of each product.

Alison’s Overview

“The Aquage Masterclass Academy was two full days of inspiration and interactive hands-on education. The education was top notch—educators paid close attention to students and accommodated each skill level. Educators got everyone involved—from sitting to watch the demos, to getting on our feet for the hands-on portion, the class stayed focused and excited as we jumped from updos to cutting, styling techniques to business education. An ‘optional’ class was offered on each day—everyone attends. Students leave with a greater understanding not only techniques, but of the Aquage family, product knowledge and the professional salon industry.”

While attending beauty school, MODERN and First Chair Editor Alison Shipley documented her experience in her Beauty School Diary blog. Now, she tours advanced academies, using her license to participate in and report on education and certification programs across the country.

E-mail her your suggestions at [email protected] While Alison’s experiences in class are a good representation of what you can expect to learn, please check with individual academies for complete details.





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