The Fellowship for British Hairdressing FAME Team, in collaboration with BaByliss PRO, returned to Australia this year for Hair Expo, where the 2018 team members wowed the audience on the Main Stage with their ‘Deviants’ collection. Their Hair Expo experience culminated in a huge showcase as one of the eight teams at this year’s GenNext Gala, where they presented ‘Misfits’, a collection that evoked a nostalgia for the pop culture of the mid-late 20th Century.
We caught up with team members Katie Prescott, Peter Mellon, Ellie Bond and Paddy McDougall to see how they found the experience and to get their impressions of Melbourne, the Aussie industry, and find out what’s next in a huge year for their careers.
How did it feel being selected to be a part of the UK FAME Team this year? What are some of the opportunities that you experience as UK FAME Team members?
Katie Prescott: I feel so privileged to have been selected for the 2018 UK FAME Team. It’s been an incredible year so far, filled with numerous opportunities that would not have been easily available to us without the aid of our mentor Nick Irwin and his wife Stacey, alongside some iconic mentors we have had throughout the year. Every session we have had so far we have learnt and gained such valuable information as well as learning new techniques. We are enjoying absorbing as much as we can, we even got the chance to shoot with Rankin!
Peter Mellon: Omg I couldn’t believe it when my name got called out that I was selected to be on the team. Numbness went through my body and I had to stop myself from cartwheeling onto the stage! The opportunities you get when being on the team – money can’t buy. The mentoring days that we’ve had with some of the best in the industry have been outstanding Photoshoots with high profile photographers and images in your portfolio that, without being in the UK FAME Team, you would never get. Nick Irwin, our mentor, has such passion and dedication for the FAME Team – it’s incredible and it’s infectious when you’re around him. He makes you soak up every little piece of information, but in a way, that’s so creative. It’s mind-blowing!
Ellie Bond: I’ve followed the UK FAME Team since the start of my career and always dreamt of being on the team. I was overwhelmed to be selected for the 2018 team. We’re extremely lucky to be mentored and educated by some of the industry’s icons. We’ve also had an incredible opportunity to shoot with Rankin.
Paddy McDougall: It felt brilliant to be selected. The application process happens over a large chunk of the year so when it finally reaches its conclusion and you know you are going to be part of it, it’s pretty special. The amount of learning opportunities you get are unrivalled. The whole year is built around developing us as individuals and a team, and to have a mentor like hair don Nick Irwin looking after us is pretty much a dream, let alone some of the other people he gets involved.
When did you find out that you were coming to Australia for Hair Expo and can you tell me about your reactions to the news?
Paddy McDougall: The bomb dropped on our very first meeting as a team. We were all pretty stunned, it’s such an amazing opportunity to be given a platform on the other side of the world to showcase our work and we really need to thank BaByliss PRO for doing this.
Ellie Bond: We found out we were coming to Hair Expo in January at our first official FAME Team meeting. I was really excited. I’d been to Australia before I started my career in hairdressing five years ago. I never thought I’d be invited back representing the Fellowship and BaByliss PRO! A true honour.
How did you find Australia and Hair Expo? In what ways did it meet your expectations?
Peter Mellon: Australia is such a great country and to be right in the heart of Melbourne showcasing what we do was incredible. It exceeded my expectations and more. Hair Expo was such an amazing event, as soon as we walked into the building the atmosphere was electrifying.
Ellie Bond: It was everything I imagined and more! The atmosphere was buzzing all weekend, you could really feel the passion and creativity of Australian hairdressing. Everyone was so welcoming and really looked after us.
Paddy McDougall: I loved Australia, I’ll definitely be back. Hair Expo was brilliant, I’ve always admired Australian hairdressing massively and feel you have some of the biggest tastemakers around, and I wasn’t disappointed.
Katie Prescott: I was surprised to see how big Hair Expo was when we arrived. It was a great experience presenting our ‘Deviant’ collection models on the Main Stage. We had a lot of support and encouragement from the staff at the Hair Expo, which was great. It was comforting to see the audience were engaged and excited about the looks we were showcasing and what we had to say.
Do you have any particular highlights from your time in Melbourne?
Ellie Bond: The GenNext show was mind-blowing. I had the best feeling seeing our ‘Misfits’ collection come together and seeing all the hard work pay off. Also, really loved hanging out with the Australian Fame Team and spending the day with Frank Apostapolous, I admire his work.
Katie Prescott: One of the highlights for me was seeing everything come together at the GenNext show. Another highlight was visiting Frank Apostolopolous at his salon, where he gave us and the Australian FAME team an insight into how he creates his award-winning looks. Plus, I loved the vibe Fitzroy had.
Paddy McDougall: On a professional level, it has to be GenNext. This was the culmination of months of work by us and in particular, Nick, so to see it all come together anywhere would have been special. But for it to happen headlining the event in Melbourne took it up an extra notch.
Peter Mellon: Definitely showcasing the collections that we worked really hard to prepare and present Hair Expo, and also GenNext was an incredible platform.
Tell us a bit about the inspiration/story behind your Deviant collection?
Katie Prescott: Our initial inspiration came from an exhibition we went to as a team in London that showcased the works of Jean-Michel Basquiat. It was inspiring for us and we decided to use it as a starting point for creating our collection. We decided to focus on the Mudd Club, which was very prevalent in the late ’70s & early ’80s. It was where you would see a variety of interesting characters in the downtown New York club scene, such as Basquiat, that used fashion as an identity statement to express whoever they wanted to be.
Paddy McDougall: He [Basquiat] was a genius, no doubt, and lived an extraordinary life during extraordinary times. So this encouraged us to delve deeper into the scene he came from, the places he hung out. This led to us, under Nick’s direction, to create a collection of characters you would have found at the most influential venue of the era, the iconic Mudd Club – including my ode to the great Basquiat himself.
How do you think that your individual (and varied) experience within the industry influences how you work together as a team?
Paddy McDougall: I think that’s what makes it work. I’ve always believed you need to play to individual strengths. If someone is better at something, let them step in and bash the look out. We all have different strengths and aren’t afraid to play to each other’s, there are no egos in the team and that’s probably the most important thing. I think having that attitude coupled with Nick’s direction has made us a force to be reckoned with.
Ellie Bond: Each of us brings different skills, experiences and personalities to the team, which I think is really important. We learn from each other and grow together. Individually they each inspire me.
Peter Mellon: We have come together like we’ve been a team forever. We all work in fast-paced salon environments and as four super-creative and passionate hairdressers doing what we love, it only makes sense to be a great team and produce creative work.
Katie Prescott: We have formed such a tightly knit group and each of us are so comfortable to bring our ideas to the table, which we can easily discuss and develop together through our trust in each other’s abilities. I have always enjoyed being around other creatives and I think we all can say we are learning from each other as well as our mentors.
How did you find showcasing at GenNext? Was the experience what you were anticipating?
Peter Mellon: Walking out on that stage is definitely one of my career highlights!
Paddy McDougall: It was sick. Unusually, it was actually bigger. Even though I had been warned, it was on a different scale from what I had anticipated. It wasn’t until the run through when I got a chance to see the staging in the flesh, I realised actually how massive it was.
Ellie Bond: GenNext was overwhelming, it was the biggest show we’ve done together as a team. Absolutely loved it. It was an honour to showcase our work to Australian hairdressers.
Katie Prescott: It was an experience never to be forgotten! It was amazing working backstage and seeing the looks come together, the atmosphere backstage had an incredible buzz and it’s all due to the great team of people that had been put together for this show.
Was there anything you noticed about the Australian hair industry that is markedly different to the UK?
Katie Prescott: It was so interesting for us to walk around and look at all the finalists’ submissions for the awards. It’s easy to see that Australia has a lot of passionate hairstylists that have the drive to be innovative.
Paddy McDougall: I think this is a hard one to pin down, but from experiencing it first-hand, I feel like the Australian industry has a real hunger about it. The work is so strong, and for me, is pushing the boundaries. This didn’t surprise me when you boast some of the best around like Frank Apostolopoulos, Joey Scandizzo and Ryan Mitchell.
For any Australian hairdressers travelling to the UK, are there any interesting or inspiring must-sees you can recommend that they may not be able to do at home?
Peter Mellon: As a hairdresser in Edinburgh, you must visit my amazing city! There is sooo much history here and from Edinburgh, it’s easy to reach the highlands.
Ellie Bond: Salon International is the biggest weekend of the year in the U.K., there is so much inspiration and education from the best hairdressers in the industry. In London, there are so many great museums hosting art and fashion history exhibitions. Camden is one of my favourite places to hang out in London. There’s inspiration everywhere just walking down the street. It’s always buzzing day and night, really cool and quirky, full of different cultures and styles.
Katie Prescott: London is home to some incredible exhibition centres and galleries that are a great source of inspiration for me. But even finding the areas that really define our city, from the more edgy, gritty east London areas such as Dalston, Shoreditch and Hackney; in contrast to our beautiful parks and canals in west London, it’s easy to feel very inspired through architecture, fashion and culture.
Paddy McDougall: I think just try and get off the beaten track a little in the likes of London, explore the subculture. This might help you find some little nuances and references to take back and put into your own work. Also feel free to come and visit any of us.
What’s next for the UK FAME Team?
Ellie Bond: Soon we will start prepping and planning for our final shows at Salon International in London. We have more education dates in the dairy, but the mentors are yet to be revealed, which is very exciting! The team have recently entered the British Hairdressing Awards for Artistic Team of the Year, which we are all really excited for! We’re extremely proud of our collection and keeping our fingers crossed for the result.
Peter Mellon: World domination and even more forward-thinking and inspirational hair.