- Edition 4 -
Haircutter Wes Sharpton has used references as a tool his entire career. He finds them essential to his growth as a haircutter, and as a creative person in general to stretch his technical abilities and hone his eye. For his muses, he's been able to apply what he’s seen and give them wholly new looks. His clients are able to consider looks they wouldn't have imagined. He has images on hand for the client who says "I can't have bangs, my hair is too curly." He has images on hand for those who think "short is too masculine." The use of references creates a world with fewer inhibitions. With Fashion Week upon us, we sat down with Wes to review some of his favorite shows from years past.
I’ve been a hairdresser for sixteen years now. In the last four years in particular I’ve been defining my own style. I don’t get inspired very easily, but sometimes I see a fashion show that’s so inspiring, it can serve as fuel for years.
These three shows have connected the dots for me as a hairdresser. I’ve taken in all their details and when the right muse has come along, I’ve returned to the files in my mind, pulled out each show, and incorporated, perhaps not the entire look, but an aspect or feeling.
Your work, like your health, reflects what you take in. That is why it’s critical to look at the best work you can get your hands on. These four shows have inspired much of my work – in one case for more than a decade.
The World Was a Mess but his Hair was Perfect was the title of Hedi Slimane’s 2006 men’s collection. Such a brilliant name. It perfectly describes the man Slimane is imagining, the mod attitude, the tailored image, and yes, the perfect hair. You often see great styles on the runway, but you don’t often see such strong cuts, in this case executed by Didier Malige. The haircuts were honest, you could see them on the streets of London in the 1960s, even in 2006.
I remember seeing these pictures in 2005, completely taken aback. These cuts have had a lasting influence on my work, in this case pretty strangely as I don’t cut many men, but I have been so inspired by the shapes that I’ve placed adaptations of them on many women. On men these cuts look incredible, but on women there is an even greater element of modernity. They look confident, bold, self-possessed, and actually incredibly feminine.
I’ve always been attracted to what the mods stood for – how cool they were – but I always imagined the cuts on girls. Amanda is one of my muses, and like most of my muses can be very androgynous. I like where the ideas of “pretty boy” and “tough girl” meet. In the haircut it’s often the combination of a strong shape, creating a bold statement, while exposing feminine features.
The mullet in many minds is dated and taboo. With these wigs for the Marc Jacobs Fall 2013 show, Guido Palau proves the opposite. The cuts are proportionate, revealing – incredibly chic. In fact the mullet, for the hairdresser, is really the perfect study in proportion: Every length must hit the right spot and be seamless and fluid.
When I cut Vanessa’s hair I had this show in mind. There’s nothing abrupt about the cut: It works. I’m from Oklahoma, so I know the country mullet; I know how wrong it is. But like anything it can be done well or done poorly. Done well the mullet has possibilities other cuts don’t have.
The bob has held a very important place for me my entire career; but what was so incredible about seeing Guido’s wigs at the Marc Jacobs Spring / Summer 2014 show was that they were the first time I really saw my type of bob. A bob that looked cool but had weight and integrity.
In 1997 Bumble and bumble hairdresser Ward brought the term “bad bob” to the forefront with Karen Elson’s Italian Vogue cover. It was a time when many of us re-evaluated the bob and its possibilities. Far from anything mumsy, it seemed current – even futuristic, as worn by Milla Jovovich in the movie The Fifth Element – also cut by Ward.
These bobs were creatively invaluable to me, but when it came to cutting anything similar, I was extremely timid. Because they were cut for particular effect, they were fantastic to look at but not practical or functional. They couldn’t live on the street.
As a hairdresser I prefer to give haircuts that can live and grow for four to six months. I always avoid compromising the hair, and use a razor in a similar way to how my grandma use to stitch – slowly and methodically.
When I first saw Malory on Canal Street, I immediately knew I had to speak to her. She just had ‘it’, a quality that’s hard to put into words. It was a combination of her eyes, her posture, her clothes, her demeanor. It was hidden behind two feet of overprocessed, bleached hair. But regardless, I could see it.
When she came in I showed her the wigs from the Marc Jacobs show and she told me, “I’d cut all my hair off, if I could look like that.”