ESTETICA ran into Mark Hayes last weekend at ISSE Long Beach and HAD to stop him for a Gimme-5! He had an incredible show, demonstrating his skill and sensational talent with the new Sassoon collection, Androgyne, which plays with gender and identity across eras and geographies.
We see you more and more often in the U.S., are you thinking of coming here or what?
“Living here? No, no… I’m a London boy! (Laughs) But I come over here about 4-5 times a year, mainly the trade shows –Long Beach, ABS, IBS…– and we’re also, later on this year, doing an event in November, in Los Angeles: The Academy in Santa Monica where we’re going to release the next collection.”
So you feel that the U.S. market is growing for Sassoon? Not only in figures but also in interest?
“To be honest, it’s always been a very strong market for us. I think Sassoon has a very devoted following worldwide. People either love or hate what we do – which is fine. I’d rather be polarizing than be all things to all people. But I think that people that love Sassoon –because we’ve got a strong philosophy, we’ve got a very strong way of working with hair, that hasn’t changed over 60 years– we have very devoted followers everywhere. In America, obviously we’ve got a long history of followers: our first salon opened in New York, in the very, very early 60s… so we’ve been here over 50 years.”
It’s nice to see how America has embraced all of the Sassoon philosophy. But not only Sassoon, a lot of UK stylists are coming here, there are a lot of names – so how do you feel like British stylists coming here, you know… the clash of the cultures, the clash of the styles?
“Well, I think there are two very definite styles of work in the US. You have people who are into more of an elaborate finish to their hair, which normally requires volume… But I think more and more there are people who like the way we work with hair. We don’t go obviously for elaborate styling. We’re much more about cutting and coloring… and I think the camp we are in, the camp we are well known for, is kind of growing. I think the most successful hairdressers today are going to be the hairdressers who invest in craftsmanship, in technique. And that really is what Sassoon is all about. Sassoon is all about ABCs of technique. And like I said, there are two camps.”
Tell us about the idea behind your latest Sassoon’s presentation here in Long Beach.
“During the global recession, people tend to be fearful of the future. So for the past 3, 4, or 5 years, there’s been a really big resurgence of heritage brands, in lots of different ways, the most recent incarnation of which is vintage, American workwear. So brands like Wooldridge, LLB, even Brooks Brothers is becoming… it’s almost like an anti-fashion statement. But of course, an anti-fashion statement becomes fashion. So I think, certain young people in the streets are doing this kind of utility workwear idea, so we kind of thought that, to take the American workwear concept and have more of a cinematic feel to it, would be quite interesting. So essentially we’ve taken the pioneers of the American West, and transferred that into a series of looks that have Sassoon technique at their core, but ultimately are designed to look very carefree, very loose, very unstructured. So we’re putting it in kind of an interesting setting, but having fun at the same time.”
What are the plans for Sassoon in order to take education to the next level?
“The Sassoon philosophy is very simple: it’s based on three very simple techniques in cutting and three very simple techniques in coloring. People want shorter courses now, they want to be able to come in and then get back to their own salons, because time is money. But I do feel that you could study the classics for the whole of your career, and if people were more interested in doing that, they would become not only more successful, but they would also raise the level of hairdressing internationally. Because it’s the classics that allow you to do everything else – without those, without technique, you can’t master forth. So to me the most important thing is technique. Then, once you’ve got that strong technique, it’s continually refining, refining, refining, refining it… continually. All throughout your career. No one ever masters it, because each head of hair is different, so you’ve got to approach it differently each time. So I really believe in the classic education. And then obviously, the magic ingredient –or the imagination or creativity– is just supported by technique. Without technique, you don’t have anything.”