For someone whose career began with a job center placement, Eugene Souleiman has risen to the glamorous fashion heights through his careers in hairdressing’s most successful companies.
Today, Souleiman is one of the most influential hair stylists of the world, a true visionary who inspires and sets the trends that other stylists follow. His sense of humour and unique way of looking at hair permeates every avant-garde style he creates. Eugene worked closely with Trevor Sorbie for nearly 10 years, learning the “Sassoon way”, before branching out to create cutting edge trends in his own inimitable style. Eugene currently serves as Global Creative Director for Wella Professionals.
His star-moments, however, have transformed him into a celebrity hairstylist with campaigns for Calvin Klein, Balenciaga, Givenchy, Hermes, Yohji Yamamoto or Donna Karan. In addition to many of those listed above, the hairstylist has created runway hair looks for Dolce & Gabbana, Celine, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Kenzo, Issey Miyake, Stella McCartney, Viktor & Rolf, Valentino, and Hussein Chalayan, among many more.
We know you mentored with Trevor Sorbie, can you talk about what you learned with Trevor that you value?
“It is always important to have a mentor, especially in life. It could be a parent. It could be a friend. But, Trevor installed some really important values in me, I wasn’t really aware of it much at the time when I was there. It’s only now. Not only is he such an incredible hairdresser, but he installed a special work ethic – but most importantly I learned that it is not about the end result, it is about the journey and really enjoying the experience. We’re just very similar people and that’s really why I got along with Trevor. You should take what you do seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously. Never believe your PR, be your worst critic. Try work harder. It’s never enough. It is really the best advise you can get.“
Wella’s Trend Vision is a decade old, so over the past it has grown to mean a lot of things to different people: it’s a competition, it’s trends… what does Trend Vision mean to you?
“Trend Vision to me means a lot. It is a chance where I can meet my audience and I really like that, and I don’t really get the opportunity to meet a lot of hairdressers or communicate with them really. My job, it’s not a lonely one, but I work in a very different environment so it is nice to revisit my roots and see people I share a lot with. For example tomorrow, I bought my wicked suit, I am having a good time, going to see some great hair, it’s like an event really. It’s about the reconnection, I really like it! There are people that I have known for such a long time and this is the one chance a year to meet them so it’s nice to see that there are more like-minded people.”
Speaking of competition, you don’t want to compete anymore because you won top honor awards a lot of times?
“To be really honest with you the only person I compete with is myself. And that’s purely my biggest motivational toll, which is why I don’t think anyone could be my biggest critic than myself. I know I have a lot to learn, and I know I have a lot to do. I don’t really feel any different than when I was 22 to be honest. And I don’t feel like my cycle is near. I am very lucky that I am put into these situations where I have to find creative solutions in solving time deadlines. I am also really lucky that I have this outlet for my creativity. I still want to be better at what I am doing – I am not doing it just as a job. I am very passionate about what I do. It can be quite hard for my team, but that’s the really great thing about doing shows.”
Do you look into other famous editorial stylists’ work for inspiration?
“For me, I look at the shows and I look at the stuff that I like. I really admire people that inspired me, like Julien d’Ys – when I was in the salon and I looked at his work I was just blown away. He’s seriously good. That’s the guy. Period. I instantly look at his work and I know. I think some of the other hairstylists are good, but wow, this guy just has a world that he inhabits. He’s an artist. He paints and he does sculpture anf museum pieces. He’s a true artist, visionary and craftsman. I don’t want to be like a lot of hairdressers. I don’t feel that I fit in on what is expected of a hairdresser. Normally when people meet me they think I am a musician or an artist, they don’t go, “Oh, you do lady’s hair.” To be honest with you, I’m influenced by lot of things, I am not really inspired by other hairdressers. It’s an artist, and architect, a chef, I go to specific areas for inspiration. I am also very inspired by music. I like to work spontaneously to music I find amazing. I really like to play and experiment. I love it when I have this broken haircut on a wig and I just drop candlewax on it. I am very much into stuff like that. And there’s a lot of work I do that people haven’t seen… Yet. But that’s just my thing for the moment. I like a lot of people’s work, but I’m just not specific in what I look at for inspiration. Of the new guys, the one that I really think has his own flavor is Luigi Moreno. I see his work and I know Luigi has done the hair. I just do because it is wild, and glamorous and gorgeous. When it is really well crafted, and I recognize that work comes from the heart, and for me hairdressers should feel. They shouldn’t be these technicians. They shouldn’t conform to constraints that they think that they need too follow, but rather follow what they feel. I think we should live.”
Going back, what advice would you give to yourself now if you had just gotten your license?
“Oh, God. It took me a long time for me to grow into myself. I will give you a brief history of where I’ve come from. I used to be an art student in London, and at the time I was in a punk band. I was really having a good time. I am not going to school like these hippies, so I got kicked out. So I ended up at a job center where I filled out this hundred-page multiple choice and I has this career advisor, and she said, “You know what? You would be a really good hairdresser.” And she told me why. She said you’re flamboyant, you’re nuts, you’re personable, you’re smart and I can tell you need to be in an industry where there are lots of creative people and you can express yourself, so I think this can be really good for you. So I took her advice and I did two years in college and I loved it. So I think I still have that hard rock attitude towards my work that I have been lucky to have, but in some respects I could have shut my beak and not been so rough.”