Paris Fashion Week from a hairdressers' perspective
Award-winning hairstylist Gemma Moodie talks about the pressures of being backstage and what models need to do for healthy hair
Fashion Week is always an exciting time in our calendar. There’s plenty to look forward to each day, from inspiring fashion to avant garde hairstyles to dazzling make-up. However, the week-long event is a bit like a duck on water - it all seems calm on the surface, but the designers, make-up artists and hairstylists are all ploughing away behind the scenes to complete their looks before the show begins.
We caught up with hairstylist and natural hair specialist Gemma Moodie from Neville Hair and Beauty, who understands the mayhem of Fashion Week all too well. She tells us about her favourite looks from Paris Fashion Week, spills the beans on must-try products and natural hair trends.
You recently styled hair at Paris Fashion Week - how was it?
I’ve been trying to get some rest! It was very busy and fast-paced. The shows were really good. I did the hair for Julien Fournié, Ziad Nakad, Rami Kadi, Guo Pei and Antonio Grimaldi.
Who comes up with the looks?
There’s direction from the designer, and then the salon that I attend with, brings a head stylist who directs everybody. They usually tell me what the looks are and then I head over the Afro hair.
Tell us about your work on the Guo Pei show!
This was the final show. There were two stand-out braided looks that I created: one of them featured a braid that wrapped around the model’s body, which I had to prepare the night before. The other look featured the twin models whose hair I braided together. That pretty much took the whole of my prep time, and then afterwards we had to stay with them to make sure the braids didn’t fall apart. I think this was my favourite look. It probably took the most time. Guo Pei designed Rihanna’s yellow dress at the 2015. Her show is my absolute favourite every year. They’re not even clothes - it’s art on the runway.
What were your go-to products when you were creating these looks?
The sponsor was L’Oréal Pro, but for Afro hair I bring my own products. I used the Keracare Edge Tamer a lot, some got2be gel, and that’s pretty much it. The styles I created were quite simple, aside from the looks for Guo Pei.
For the Julien Fournié show, we created neat braids. The theme was witchcraft and we did a lot of crimping in the models’ hair, as well as very tight, neat braids on the sides. I just used edge tamer to get the hair really neat and tight
What is it like backstage?
There’s always a lot of pressure, because the designers want very specific looks. They don’t want any mistakes because, obviously, there are a lot of paparazzi and your mistakes will show. So far I’ve never had any issues. I’ve always had a lot of praise for my work.
Do you get nervous?
I think I get a bit nervous and anxious when I’m on my way there and I’m preparing my mind. But when I’m actually backstageI just stay calm. You do see a lot of people getting flustered, especially head stylists because they want everything to be right. But I tend to be able to keep my cool and just work through it. That’s all you can do.
Fashion Week must be hard on the models’ hair - what do they do to keep it healthy in between jobs?
I usually suggest that the models do hair treatments in the run up to the shows, to keep their hair moisturised.
What’s it like working with lots of different models with different preferences?
Some models can get uptight about who’s styling their hair. A lot of them have got to know me and look forward to me doing their hair, but it’s taken me a while to convince them that I know whatI’m doing. A lot of them don’t want any heat on their hair, and I have to talk to the designers and compromise on what kind of style I can do so that they can still match the rest of the models. I don’t apply too much heat when I’m styling.I always take care of their hair and style it in the healthiest way that I can.
What’s trending in natural hair at the moment?
On the runway, hair tends to be slicked back -if they have length - into a bun right at the back. It’s a very slick and smooth hairstyle. I also see a lot of very short, natural cuts. I think that’s due to the models not wanting stylists to damage their hair. In-salon, protective styles have been trendingf or quite a while. I get asked for lots of different braid styles, crochets and anything protective. Many clients are trying to stay away from heat.