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Interview: ‘Hair’ judges on how androgyny is evolving hairdressing

Megan Boyanton July 13, 2015

Royal hairdresser Denise McAdam and celebrity stylist Alain Pichon talk to PinkNews about the return of ‘Hair’- and how the industry is changing.

The pair, who judge on the BBC reality series, spoke about changes in the industry given the mainstream appearance of more androgynous stars – from Miley Cyrus opening up about her gender, to genderfluid Orange is the New Black star (and internet sensation) Ruby Rose.

Pichon, a fourth-generation stylist from France who has styled everyone from Madonna to David Beckham, said: “As soon as you cut your hair short, the press is on you because it’s radical. I think it’s interesting because it gives an evolution [in hairdressing].

“New styles, new things that are out there – like it, hate it, it’s still out there.”

Royal hairdresser McAdam, who has even received the Royal Victorian Medal “for hairdressing services to the Royal Family”, added that more and more women are now opting for shorter bobs, like The Voice host Emma Willis.

She said: “If you’re in a salon, you’ll find everybody wants to look like Taylor Swift or Emma Willis… nobody at the moment wants to look like The Only Way Is Essex.”

However,  while both judges concede that things are changing, Pichon says that trends often come in cycles.

He said: “It’s always there… you know, it kind of repeats. What catches your eye is what’s important. . . and how you treat it.”

The BBC series will return to screens tonight – now hosted by comedian Katherine Ryan.

Both judges praise Ryan for the warm humour she brings to the second season.

Pichon said: “I think the program is all about showing the new generation what hairdressing is all

From technique to creativity, both judges employ their career experiences in evaluating the 10 competitors.

The contestants will style based on varying themes, such as “Architecture,” “Horror Hair,” and “Nature.”

The most basic hair-do to master, however, is the ponytail.

McAdam said: “If you don’t get past the ponytail, it’s a shame. They can’t make it on there.”

For that reason, the eliminator in the first episode is executing that style on Asian hair.

In order to advance to the final rounds, though, stylists need to exhibit the many qualities the judges expect.

McAdam said: “We’re both professional hairdressers; we both believe in the training.

“We both believe in the core values and the professionalism, the perfectionism, everything.

“So, our combination coming together, we really are qualified to be these judges.”

Pichon’s interest in the industry began at an early age, watching his father style at home and talking about it at the dinner table.

Starting as a salon apprentice, he described his hairdressing career as “destiny.”

As a judge, he recommends constant practice.

Pichon said about styling: “The more you do it, the more you understand it, and the best hairdresser is usually the one which have practised a lot.”

Both professionals highlight the vitality of knowing how to handle different hair textures, from Scandinavian to Mexican.

McAdam said: “If you’re going to a photo-shoot, you can’t turn around and say, ‘I don’t do that type of hair.'”

A key element of ‘Hair’ is the constant pressure of competition, which often mimics real situations in the industry.

Ranking the most stressful circumstances as catwalks and fashion shows, the two discuss the importance of time-management and creativity in the field.

Additionally, changing a model’s hair style 10 times, while complementing the different outfits, is a skill that one has to develop, independent from the designer.

Pichon said: “When that pressure comes in, it’s how well you perform.

“That’s where you can become someone good or finish and carry on to do something else.”

While styling for the red carpet often depends on the dress, celebrity hair relies predominantly on the individual’s mood and schedule.

In 2010, for her services to the Royal Family, McAdam received the Royal Victorian Medal.

She said: “When you work with a member of the Royal family, you’re back in the service industry.

“So, you’re doing the exact same job, you know, with a little bit more decorum or a bit more thought- it’s an honour, it’s a respect.

“We respect all our clients, we respect everybody we do, but we’ll be working in much more of a maybe relaxed situation.”

In terms of recent trends, festival season plays a role in the popularity of “beautiful hair,” colouring and the presence of plaits.

For men, McAdam said: “Barbering is big news… world-wide, the beard, the whole barbering thing going on is massive.”

Hair returns tonight at 10pm on BBC Two.

More: alain pichon, BBC Two, denise mcadam, Gay, hair, katherine ryan, LGBT, royal hairdresser, same sex marriage

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