“I’ve been leading the TIGI Session Team backstage at Fashion Weeks for the last three years, working with some top designers both sides of the Atlantic. When you’re backstage with all the pressure that it brings you need to have a really strong group of people around you that you can trust and rely upon,” says Nick Irwin, TIGI Global Creative Director. “When I work with new hairdressers or when I’m training hairdressers in session styling, the first thing I do to test their skills is ask them to create a ‘perfect ponytail’ for me. This might sound an easy task, especially to girls who are used to brushing their hair back and sticking it through an elastic band. But, don’t be fooled, to get a smooth, sleek ponytail that hangs perfectly and looks amazing is a feat that requires technical skill, a good eye and the ability to keep cool under stress. I need everyone who works backstage with me to be able to achieve the ‘perfect ponytail’ with ease and confidence.
A ponytail requires several elements to get it right. Product choice is important. The products selected need to control, smooth and give the desired hold. Good product knowledge is fundamental too so you understand the results you can achieve. Perfect blowdrying techniques are a definite pre-requisite. It may be that the hair needs to be flat and controlled, but equally it might need to have volume or a ‘lived-in’ finish. Visual appreciation is important too. Where a ponytail is placed can make or break the overall look. You have to decide whether or not to use a parting, how to tie the hair and what is needed to achieve the desired finish.
I look for good execution, knowledge and application of techniques, confident product usage and perfect finish. The other important thing – is how long it takes. Time is never on your side backstage. Simple things are often the hardest to do. You can’t hide mistakes when you do a ponytail, so you have to be competent and confident.”
On my mantelpiece sits an invitation to a very special wedding. It’s going to be an amazing and extremely beautiful occasion I just know: absolutely creative and mind-boggling. The bride is the daughter of my ex-brother-in-law, of whom I am very fond. She is beautiful, an artist who has a lovely fiancée musician. Money is really no object in making this day totally awesome and memorable. I want to remember myself too, beautiful and confident.
Of course I am a totally unimportant aspect of this occasion, but as I know every single guest is going to make a big effort to look absolutely stunning and fabulous, I too am equally pressed to ensure I too look the part. To be honest I’ve already bought a dress and quite expensive it is too, by my normal spending standards, (though it was actually half-price in a swish designer sale). My reason for pre-purchasing is that I thought I could then justify to myself the purchase of an expensive pair of shoes with a delicious bag to match nearer to the big date in September. Now I especially know that I should also buy some heavy-duty, hold-in everything, Spanx, or one of those new corsets from M&S that supposedly make you look like Kim Kardashian. But quite frankly I want to be fit and toned in case it’s stinking hot and I can’t bare the thought of unsexy clingy underwear. Now I realise 2 months is not long to completely change my look (well maybe not completely) but I’m going to have a go.
Already I don’t like the tops of my arms (of course). But the dress is sleeveless so that’s a challenge in itself. I’ve got the kettle bells, so I’m planning to get flicking those babies everyday and spinning them round my head. Then I’ll be doing box press-ups with my hands close together to get those triceps yelling ‘ouch!’ and repeatedly lifting weights to tone the biceps. This is going to take drive and focus and I’m not convinced I can so this on my own.
Fortunately I have a secret weapon: my friend, Helen Tite, owner of The Core. She’s my fitness guru. She’s already turned me from a lazy slob into a fanatic Pilates almost-expert and a grooving Zumba follower. The trouble is, whilst I have a ‘core ‘of steel, there’s a layer of flab over those hard abs. Now I’m looking for a quick-fix -that will hopefully melt the wobbly bits and get me happy and honed. So I’ll be doing a Bootcamp type outdoor class every Saturday at 9am, and whenever I can I’ll be getting myself to Pump and hopefully throwing in some Personal Training.
Then I need to look at my diet. To shift a few pounds I usually have to go hard on myself and give up all the goodies from tea and coffee to the vino and Prosecco, and suffer the insane headache that goes with the onset of this regime. Last time I tried it I went most peculiar in Sainsbury’s car park. My daughter thought I was having a stroke and I just drove into the side of a car. (Fortunately the owner said: “Don’t upset yourself too much, it’s only a ruddy Skoda!”) Anyway I think I’m going to brake myself into this gently. Drop the sugar, spuds and pasta and eat lean and fresh.
It’s quite obvious I am going to become a total bore over the next few weeks, but you know what, it’s worth it. There are going to be a lot of the 400 (yes really) guests that are going to have known me for a long time and I want them saying: “Doesn’t she look amazing”, not “Wow what happened to her!”……….And, if I do get complements I just might write another blog boasting about myself. So look out in mid-September.
1.Why did you decide to become a hairdresser?
My parents were hairdressers and my 3 older brothers became hairdressers too and truly I never considered doing anything else.
When I was 12 years old I started working in the salon with my father after school, at weekends and during the holidays and by the time I left school at 16 I was already qualified.
2.You have been “British Hairdresser of the Year” three times, how did you achieve that? Did you ever imagine that you would succeed so much?
I have worked hard to achieve what I have achieved. But I’ve also had a very strong team to support me. My brother Bruno continually pushed me and inspired me to push my artistry, and my wife, and makeup artist, Pat, has been at my side helping me develop ideas and create incredible imagery.
3.Have you styled the hair of many celebrities?
I have worked with many celebrities over the years, but as I have always travelled a lot, my main work has been with models. With celebrities, much of the time you are helping to create their vision for themselves, but when I am doing my own shoots with a model, I can design the hair, the image, the lighting and the overall concept. That is my favourite way to express myself.
4.You are a creative director, a hair stylist, a business man and a photographer. Which of these do you like the most?
I enjoy every aspect of my work, but I get the most pleasure from working on a creative project. This might be a show, a photo shoot or a creative project. It’s all about pushing yourself and creating new ways to express yourself.
5.From what sources do you find inspiration?
Inspiration comes from everywhere and it’s important to be open to ideas. It might be fashion from the catwalk or fashion that I see on the street worn by the experimental creative young people that you find in many cities –but particularly in London. It might be art –both classic and modern, the work of a photographer, a film, music or architecture or it might be an idea I get when travelling or having a conversation. The important thing is to be open to ideas.
When you’re a Twenty-something
“You can be experimental when you’re 21 but if your colour is going to work it’s still important that it enhances your skin tone and your hairstyle and works for your image and this should always be communicated to clients” Says Christel.“Pixie Lott’s pallid blonde tones really bring out her brown eyes and work with her youthful image. She’s a pop-star young girls want to identify with and her look is wearable and pretty.”
30 – somethings
“Fearne Cotton is ‘edgy and rock-chick’ but also pretty and feminine. She regularly changes the tone of her blonde – adding slices of colour to suit her mood…..She’s an experimental blonde and I like that, yet her look is accessible and her colouring easy to reference for anyone in their 20s or 30s.”
“Gwyneth Paltrow is the absolute in blonde chic: her hair is effortlessly beautiful and has pure, ‘clean’ colours. It shouts ‘expensive’ and is created to beautify, make hair look shiny and healthy and naturally blonde. Anyone would want her colour.”
Middle age? The Big 5 −0 and more.
“My ultimate blonde! Madonna has changed her blonde-ness over the years from harsh bleached blonde to a softer, more flattering tone – though I have to say, it hardly reflects her age. On stage her look is fierce and powerful, yet when shot off-stage, her hair is flattering and softens her skin tone. I like that.”
Here Nick talks about styling for the growing market of 35 + clients
Hair Styling for the mature client.
” A hairstyle is very individual and what suits a person-young or old- depends on their facial shape and the texture of their hair,” says Nick Irwin TIGI Global Creative Director. “All too often women cling to the hairstyle they wore 10, or even 20, years ago and that is the most ageing thing they can do!
The key to looking fantastic is to stay on-trend, but to avoid sharpness and strong shapes that are inclined to be less flattering. Having said that, you can, for example, soften a short hairstyle by leaving the hair at the nape a little longer or having a sweeping fringe. Our cut collections always include short, mid-length, and below the shoulder hairstyles – all of which can work for older clients as well as young ones. We tend to create longer styles with layers and on older clients it’s important to maintain shorter lengths around the face to draw attention to the eyes and cheekbones.
Colour is crucially important. It adds vibrancy and again it’s important not to have a solid colour or to cling to those dull highlights you wore in the 80s! The colour should work with the cut to bring out the shape and texture. Today’s colours add shine and actually improve the condition of hair, plus they make think hair look thicker – and this is all good on mature clients. Again, ensure clients steer away from the colour they had at 20, but equally don’t go for ash blondes that are just one tone away from grey and do nothing to flatter anyone.
Products too are crucial. So often women moan that their hair looks flat or dull or thin, but if they used the right products to create the perfect texture for their hairstyle plus a shine spray to add lustre and the correct shampoo and conditioner for their hair type, I can guarantee they would not only look better, they would look younger too.
Celebrities like Jane Fonda and Goldie Hawn don’t just look amazing because they’re beautiful and have great bodies – they look fantastic because their hair is always beautiful.
My best advice to any women would be to pester their hairdresser to give a really good consultation. The hairdresser should advise what products to use, what colour works with the cut and natural skin colouring, what cut will enhance the person and their facial structure- and they should tell the client how to style their hair at home. If they don’t do all this then I’d say – find a new hairdresser!” Nick Irwin
“ Not surprisingly. most women worry about their faces looking older – the jawline sagging, eyes wrinkling and either gaining weight so that the face becomes rounder or losing weight on the face so that it looks harsh. So when it comes to styling, softness is the key. Styling hair with a longish side fringe and ‘dressed’ to enhance the cheekbones brings attention to the eyes and is always flattering.
On longer hair, add some height at the crown, using a volume-enhancing spray, blow-drying with a medium round brush, and loosely tie hair into a knot at the nape, allowing fine tendrils to fall at the sides of the face. A sweeping fringe that falls softly across the forehead will flatter eyes and emphasis the cheek-bones. Spray with a light hairspray that also adds shine to keep the style in place… Pulling the hair back into a tight pony-tail might pull up your forehead, but it isn’t the answer! Again product choice is key. Hair is often drier and therefore duller as you age, so using products that smooth the cuticle, add shine, volume and separation is always good. Use smoothing pastes, shine sprays and serums to make hair look smooth, sleek and totally sexy.”
This season make like a water colour artist with colour washes from a palette of mellow and muted tones. The colourists at TIGI are using pastel colour blocking to give a depth and tone that replaces last season’s dip-dye effects but still has an air of individualism and freedom. Think of the palette Kirsten Dunst wore in “Marie Antoinette” or the lightest of macaroons – and you won’t be far wrong.
Slices of colour are cross-smudged, blended to create a powdery effect sometimes with distinct shades but also with contrasting colours that immediately add a third dimension of depth. Buff Suede has Storm Cloud worked through under the perimeter to create a dark misty shadow, whilst Blanched Almond is softened through the fringe and through mid-lengths to ends with Powder Puff Pink or Whipped Apricot. On darker tones such as Dusty Grain, Smoky Ironstone and Old Sandstone, muted shades of Dune and Papaya Shake add lighter tones to relieve the depth and give a luminescence to focal areas.
Many of the international catwalks showed a preference for pallid blondes often whipped into candy-floss shapes or loosely knotted or braided. With a strong trend for block pastels in clothes the colourist has the opportunity to echo fashion adopting a trend-led tonal palette that can work both commercially and artistically.
With TIGI copyright©olour every colourist has total freedom to push their creativity, inventing their own shades and turning every colour they do into a work of art.