21 April 2024

Eugene Souleiman – Backstage at LFW AW24 with Simone Rocha for Keune Haircosmetics

In an exclusive interview for Estetica Magazine, hair expert and creative guru, Eugene Souleiman, discusses his work backstage styling the hair for the Simone Rocha show using Keune Haircosmetics.

Eugene Souleiman
Hair by Eugene Souleiman using products by Keune Haircosmetics

Estetica: How was your experience working at London Fashion Week for Simone Rocha?

Eugene Souleiman: “Working with Simone Rocha has been absolutely amazing. I admire her as an incredible designer with a global perspective, not just confined to London. Her refined and forward-thinking approach, influenced by her family tradition in fashion, creates a truly magical atmosphere. Collaborating with Simone and Robbie the stylist was a delight, as their immense talent inspires me to create a unique ‘hair language’ for their vision. It’s a challenge I thrive on in my career, blurring the lines between work and life.”

What do you enjoy the most about working backstage at major global fashion weeks?

“I find the blending of fashion, music, and everything in between exhilarating. It’s like they all collide and feed off each other at different times. The pressure backstage is something I thrive on. Deadlines motivate me, despite my natural inclination towards laziness. I need that structure to push me beyond my comfort zone. Embracing the fear of the unknown and making mistakes drives me forward creatively. Being adaptable in communication, like with my team or even as a parent, is crucial. My intuition guides me, as overthinking tends to hinder rather than help. Sensing the chemistry and creativity in the moment is key, often revealing more than words can express.”

What was your main focus in deciding which hair looks to create for the show?

“Simone provided me with illustrations of Queen Victoria, and I immersed myself in them along with references to her clothing. After contemplating for a day, I discerned a theme of ornamentation, severity, and softness in her designs. I started with a simple base of a deep centre parting, aiming for cleanliness and shine. Considering the Victorian era’s hair coils and the potential squashing effect of hats, I envisioned the hair as if it had been worn and then compressed. This concept aligned with Simone’s collection theme of memory and mourning.

We aimed to replicate the texture of hair under these conditions, using Keune’s Triple X gel for shine and Salt Mist for a dry, weathered look. Imperfect braids and deliberate tousled strands added to the effect. The goal was to create a hairstyle that embodied the memory of being worn under a balaclava, achieving a laminated appearance. This process emphasizes the importance of capturing a natural, human quality in hair styling, transcending mere technique and evolving through experience and intuition.”

Tell us which Keune Haircosmetics products have helped you to bring your creative looks to life?

The concept for the hairstyle stemmed from the idea of creating the memory of a hairstyle, as part of a trilogy of designs representing a funeral, wake, and memory of a person. To achieve the desired textures and effects, we utilized several Keune Haircosmetics products. For the center parting in the front, we used Triple X Gel to create a high shine, followed by Brilliant Gloss spray to give it a plastic-like appearance. To create the dry, weathered curls, we applied Salt Mist spray, then deliberately squashed the hair to achieve an imperfect braid, incorporating pieces of hair throughout. Finally, we used the High Impact hairspray to further squash and laminate the hair, embodying the concept of the hairstyle after being worn in a balaclava

As a hairstylist at a runway event, how important is it to you to consider the total look?

“Every designer communicates differently. Some, like Ann Demeulemeester, show me pictures of clothes without heads and play music, allowing me to interpret the movement and attitude. Working with John Galliano for Margiela, he wanted a rushed, wet hair look, so we created a hairstyle using shampoo bubbles for a genius effect. These conversations, whether they lead to something or not, are important creative exercises. Sometimes, we take ourselves too seriously in fashion; it’s crucial to have fun and not worry about others’ opinions. Those who appreciate your work will find you, and that’s what matters.”

Why is it important for hairdressers to keep up to date with what is created at fashion weeks?

“I believe everyone needs a ‘hair holiday,’ a refreshing break to let something new in. Fashion shows offer a glimpse into what’s currently fashionable, inspiring us to experiment with textures and techniques. Trying out new skills helps us refine our craft, even if we don’t use them all in our everyday work. It’s about expanding the possibilities and finding unique combinations that work beautifully together, like the yin and yang of hair.”

What advice would you give to aspiring session stylists looking to make a mark in the world of fashion and beauty?

“Don’t approach it with a linear mindset. Explore your craft, enjoy the journey, and never stop learning. Mastery takes time and effort, and it’s crucial to be versatile in your skills. Think of hairdressing like cooking; you need a diverse menu of techniques and textures. Once you’ve mastered the basics, challenge yourself to break your own rules and create something new. Progression is essential, staying stagnant means falling behind. Continuously challenge yourself, stay inspired, and always be willing to learn. Hard work and perseverance are non-negotiable. Embrace challenges as opportunities for growth, and never settle for complacency. Remember, even the most experienced stylists have their weaknesses and areas to improve. It’s all about the journey of constant growth and discovery.”

As a visionary in your field, how do you come up with these creative ideas?

“The key is to keep moving, challenging yourself, and staying inspired. Learning is a lifelong journey; the moment you stop learning, you stagnate. I don’t see creativity in linear terms; it’s a constant flow of progression or regression. Accountability for your mindset and dedication to learning are essential. Even I, as an experienced stylist, continue to practice and refine my skills. Embracing challenges is crucial; they push us to be better. Sometimes, the struggle itself leads to unexpected breakthroughs. It’s about having the strength of mind to push yourself and never settle for mediocrity.”

Where do you find most of your inspiration?

I believe being super critical of oneself, technically and creatively, and recognising your place within a larger cultural context is essential. If you don’t realize your part of something bigger than yourself, you’re unlikely to innovate. Researching hair ideas is fine, but why not read a poem, listen to music, or engage in physical activity simultaneously? Trying new experiences and having conversations with interesting people can be profoundly inspiring. Personally, travel is one of the most inspiring things for me. Experiencing new cultures, like in Tokyo, where attention to detail and dedication is paramount, resonates with me. I’m drawn to places and people that are strong, resilient, and brave. I don’t like mediocrity; I prefer to pursue my dreams wholeheartedly. Regretting what I’ve done is preferable to regretting what I haven’t. Even if something turns out to be wrong, it’s still an experience to learn from.

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