The Trevor Sorbie Artistic Team set London’s Salon International abuzz on the evening of 14 October with their multi-faceted showcase, whereby the team were tasked with recreating five collections on-stage.
Led by artistic director Tom Connell, the audience was treated to precision cutting, creative colour and avant-garde styling demonstrations with a glimpse into the inspirations behind them; as well as an appearance from ‘The Godfather of Hairdressing’ himself, Trevor Sorbie.
“The number one thing that we want to do when we go on stage, is to make someone excited to go to work the next day”, stated Tom at the opening of the event. A standing ovation at its conclusion suggested the team had accomplished just that; and that members Tom Connell, Caroline Schmitt, Ryan Forsythe, James Bacon, Tiziana Di Marcelli, Mai Ha, Zak Twohig and Ben Bradley are as strong as ever.
Each artist was introduced in a monochrome video clip, where Trevor casually chatted to the audience whilst driving his car. This laidback style was juxtaposed against the vibrancy of the collections and seemed to mirror the way Trevor’s team find the sweet spot between wild creativity and everyday salon hairdressing.
Music is a key source of inspiration for the team. Introducing the show, Technical Director and Head of Education at Trevor Sorbie Covent Garden, Zak Twohig, launched the #sorbiesoundwaveart, an interactive collaboration with Soundwave Art App, where sound waves are printed with colour onto hair.
Continuing the melodic theme, Tom Connell was first to the stage, as the latest Arctic Monkeys album ‘Tranquillity Base Hotel and Casino’ played. This concept album, as well as his favourite ‘70s-themed lounge bar in London, sparked Tom to think about abstract shapes.
“I was interested in taking haircuts and hairdressing that shouldn’t work together, that are complete opposites, and finding a way to make them fit.”
Swamped in ‘70s retro-orange lighting, Tom demonstrated two looks designed to “jar against vision”; one, a graduated cut that flowed into a classic ponytail; and the second, a classic French curl against a grungy British wet-look shag cut.
As the album played on, French hairdresser Caroline Schmitt wowed with two avant-garde looks. She showed how to transform a figure-eight braid into a flower by building a head of delicate, cascading petals – a “simple and beautiful look”.
Next, she cut blonde extensions to create a fine, hair-like dust, which she sprinkled over a glue pattern on a canvas of dark hair. The colour contrast revealed a stunning geometric pattern, which was met with rapturous applause.
Ryan Forsythe and James Bacon were next to explain their sources of inspiration. For one of his looks, Ryan used the contemporary artist Dustin Bailard’s dark, distressed pixies.
He explained, “I think I’m kind of often drawn towards the odd or weird things; whether it’s music, or podcasts or books, or hair. I think sometimes it might be a little bit of escapism. I just like the idea of something that makes you stop in your tracks, want to take a second look, wonder what the hell’s going on.”
For him, “whilst taking inspiration, you still need to pay respect to cutting techniques, face shape, and hair growth.” He explained that in the same way Picasso did, you must understand form to break it. Ryan did just this with a classic pixie cut, on which he used a razor to accent it with blonde tufts.
Meanwhile, James re-enforced the idea that inspiration can be drawn from anywhere. “Being inspired is not a state that I try to get into. Accepting that inspiration is all around, always there, any place, anytime is all I need to know”.
The look he created was drawn from filming a storm on his phone, which came in over the bay of Naples whilst on holiday in Italy. While replaying the video, he noticed the contrast between the swirling clouds and the straight lines and form of the boats. He used thinning scissors to create a graduated line in the hair, before adding wispy curls which emulated his moody holiday scene.
A joint avant-garde collection followed when International Education Director Tiziana Di Marcelli and Art Director Mai Ha took to the stage. With Mai as this year’s regional winner of the L’Oreal Colour Trophy Grand Final, the women wanted to create a strong look using a red colour palette.
Mai weaved different hues of red extensions through a dark pony to create ripples of colour; a simple idea with striking effect.
“We’ve always liked avant-garde hair but at the same time, we still wanted this collection to look very beautiful and very simple”, explained Mai.
On the other side of the stage, Tiziana also used a simple technique to create a bold look. She used straighteners to crimp the hair, forming angled waves with vibrant red tones. She wanted to create something that was striking, but also wearable.
Colour Technician Ben Bradley rounded off the show with a shimmering, fluoro colour presentation. The Arctic Monkeys stopped, and dramatic orchestral music set the scene for his mesmerising showcase, whereby he swirled a gel-pigment formula on cropped hair. The result was a stunningly intricate blue and yellow marbled effect.
Trevor Sorbie joined his artistic team on stage for the finale, with the audience serenaded by an upbeat four-piece string band. Trevor gave his thanks to a host of well-known names he has worked with before, including Eugene Souleiman, Angelo Seminara and Vivienne Mackinder; before praising his current protege, Tom Connell.
It was clear that the show’s overall message was as much about imagination as it was about outstanding technique; with the crowd’s enthusiastic standing ovation proof enough that Tom’s vision for the show was realised – there would be a lot of excited hairdressers heading to work the next day.