Internationally acclaimed hairstylist Michael Haase has the ability to think outside the box, and the dedication to make his dreams a reality. Haase is both a renowned educator and a celebrity stylist, working with Wella Professionals. He is also the head stylist at his own Salon Platinum Black in L.A.
Haase credits his success to education, and he still holds to the integrity of his teachers –the legendary Vidal Sassoon, Annie Humphreys and Alexandre de Paris– even while incorporating the latest technology into his craft. Haase now believes that by passing his knowledge to other professionals they will continue their path to become ‘the New Elite’ in the fashionable world of hair artistry.
We had the pleasure of meeting Michael in Los Angeles, and we’re thrilled to share our exclusive interview with you!
1. What do you think 2015 has in store for you?
“This year marks the midpoint to this decade and as always for me its time for change. The projects coming up this year will be more exciting, color will play a big part. Working with Wella Professionals as a Top Artist, my Salon Platinum Black team and photo shoots already scheduled till June, shows around the country with Wella Professionals and teaching, well, let me say, keeping it under 100mph is not an option. My love for the craft is the Petrol that keeps it going. This year collaboration with colleagues and friends from designers to photographers and editors will move new techniques into a direction for art in the craft and exciting new designs that I can’t wait to photograph.”
2. What makes you as an educator different than anyone else?
“That’s a really good question. I look at education from which you can learn, and with that the ability to improve your approach for the next individual. Each time I share my history (skills) in this craft I get a new way of looking at it through the eyes of a new artist. When this artists has that, ‘moment’ of discovery it’s an experience that says you got through to them, it made sense and that it may have been the one thing that disallowed them to move forward, it creates a new confidence, and they fly. I truly enjoy observing talent grow and I so enjoy teaching: ‘Education is a want, not a need’… that would be hairdressing.”
3. Looking back in your life, what have you done to not get lost in the crowd?
“It’s funny looking back at one’s life, what a circus, and what lovely moments to get to know oneself and others. I think integrity and respect to the skill itself of this art we call hairdressing. One’s passion is all we have to continue believing in success, those around us play such a big part to keep that passion alive. I try to do things the way I see them and take chances in the art form, strong basics turned askew perhaps, pushing the status quo. From the beginning I was very fortunate to work with and around very strong and very talented hairdressers and artists. Most of them my mentors, Vidal Sassoon, Trevor Sorbie, Annie Humphreys, Louis Raimon (Alexandre de Paris) they truly believed in the art of hairdressing as a career and as a life style. This made me think how I present and represent myself in this industry and how I would show respect to take they’re teaching to the next generation. It was an honor to be a part of their world, they taught me so much and I am forever grateful, I would not be where I am if not for my Mentors.”
4. What moment has been the most rewarding in your career?
“I would have to say the late 70’s and 80’s were a turning point. After Vidal’s blessing and support to go to Europe to study for color with Annie and styling with Alexander. The European invasion here at home in Los Angeles was the synergy in the art of fashion, music and hairdressing. The bands and musical talent that arrived on our shores allowed us as hairdressers to show what we were all about. We did not however just do the hair, we were hired because we had talent in makeup, wardrobe styling, set design and anything that production needed to create the perfect finish, the producers loved us. We were in sound stages all night long never knowing what time it was, kind of like Vegas. The bands had a look, a sound and a daring that we could not resist to get involved with and it was all exposed through the beauty of television. They looked like us and we worked well in collaboration. From Duran Duran, Robert Palmer, The Cars, Kajagoogoo, and so many more, the jobs came flying in, we work in the salon all day and at night in the sound stages through out the city and street locations for music videos. MTV became the platform our work was featured in but this time in video, wow, we worked our tails off, and it was great.”
5. Who’s your hairstyling idol, and why?
“In hairstyling I would have to say Alexandre, his precision was stunning and amazing to watch, I learned so incredibly much from that man. I had the opportunity to travel with him in 1978 where he allowed me to remove the hairpins from the perfect French twist of the Princess of Monaco (Grace Kelly), his mastery cannot be compared. Everything he designed from the sketches he created, the dedication of perfection in his craft was amazing, the way he was received by all made him an icon in the world of styling and fashion. One morning during a consultation his client asked who the new talent was, referring to me, he quickly responded: ‘May I introduce Michael, madam, it is a pleasure to watch his hands, they will be his best tools’. Then he asked me to take ‘Madam’ for a luxurious shampoo experience and to enjoy them. I’ll never forget how red I got – god I was so naive. You do have to appreciate how things were said, so elegantly and with such respect, something to learn from I think.”
6. What current trend do you love and hate, and why?
“The direction of hair design today is quite simple, cut it, color it, it does grow back. I have to say the ‘Ombre’ is something that needs to change, if not completely but at least in technique for more diversity. Hair design is not as changing as it used to be, different cut, color, style with the seasons, today the trends continue for a longer period of time, not because of style but convenience. The shorter daring designs given to us seem to be an art form all their own, they show change and evolution for an individual to make a statement as if ‘look at me everybody’ – I like that. One of my favorite times of the year is when Wella Professionals releases the trends, Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter. Just like fashion designers we need to plan ahead and this year’s trends from Wella are nothing short of spectacular, creativity for hairdressers and hair fashion for consumers.”
7. What’s something most people don’t expect to know from you?
“It has to be that I grew up in the circus, it blows people’s minds. My grandfather was a Gypsy King and was responsible for me learning to fly trapeze. He supported many of us in our ‘Circus Family’ and we traveled to so many countries to perform. My father and mother were also quite famous for the daredevil roller skating act they performed on a 6 foot circular platform suspended high above stage at high speed. It was exciting, dangerous, and very exact, kind of like cutting and coloring, hahaha. I believe it was that upbringing that finally led me to hairdressing, the sights and sounds, the colors and shapes. The thing that sealed the deal for hairdressing was my stay at the loft with Warhol in my mid teens, that experience gave me my first realization that I am visual and that it was ok. I hated school and never felt a part of anything until this, I felt at home being part of a strange society of artists that had amazing hair and it was just cool. Visual was my strength and like my father I learned to be good with my hands – it just made sense as I got older and the events that unfolded in the early days led to the profession I now hold so dear. So many cool memories.”
8. What’s the best two cents someone’s ever given you in the industry?
“If you want them to remember you, show them an updo, with those hands they won’t soon forget“, Louis Raimon (Alexandre de Paris). I’ll never forget that statement from Alexandre. It was my time to leave and it was a sad moment for me, his teaching was timeless. At the airport as I looked in my session kit for my notebook I spotted a tissue paper wrapped gift he had snuck into my luggage: one of his 14-inch tortoise shell styling combs. There was no note: just the comb. It was perfect. I treasure it to this day and use it on special occasions and projects.”
9. If you could have dinner with 3 people dead or alive who would they be and why?
“King Tutankhamun. People know nothing about him except the splendor around him and how fascinating would it be to learn about his world which is already such an enigma. David Bowie just for the reason he is so very cool and always reinvented himself decade to decade. Reinventing oneself eliminates complacency and, for certain, it always allows for a new wardrobe – if you don’t reinvent you can’t shop, oh no!! And Madam Curie – she discovered radio activity and was so ground breaking on so many levels in the world of science. Curie was so consumed with her passion that it killed her. How fascinating would that be to sit with someone so immersed in their vision. She was pursuing an area that most men could not touch and unthinkable for a woman of that time to consider studying Physics. The dress code alone with this dinner would be amazing, huge competition between the King and David… LOL and myself haha.”
10. What are some of your guilty pleasure?
“I love good food, really good food. Also I am a sweet freak, not candy but good pastry and deserts, cookies and well, I consider it fine dining. Recently I traveled to Monaco with the Wella team for the International Trend Vision Awards and I have to say I was in luxury on so many levels. In the finest hotel I cannot forget the evenings dining with friends and colleagues and the deserts. Looking through art and fashion magazines, coming up with new shapes for shoots in my garage, pretty much anything hair and inspiration form the world around me. Hairdressing, it’s the biggest pleasure – for me it’s a lifestyle. I have an amazing team in my Salon Platinum Black, I work with the best color company in the world, Wella Professionals, and I travel the globe teaching. There is nothing guilty about it, as long as I have enough sweets…“