Aycan Kemal is a hairstylist at New York Hair Design in Haringey, London, and she has held the Guinness World Record for the fastest braiding since 2011. This month, Aycan is up against five other stylists as a finalist in the Afro category at this year’s British Hairdressing Awards.
How did you get so quick at braiding hair?
Lots and lots of practice. Before I opened my salon, I was working in a salon in Wood Green called Hair by Ronald Joyce. It was a predominantly Afro salon, however I was the only stylist who could canerow braid. All the clients in need of braiding would get passed to me, and so I got really fast at it.
What made you apply for a Guinness World Record?
I became recognised for my braiding speed, so I thought about turning it into a record. I sent the Guinness World Records an email with the idea and they liked it, so I organised an event at Afro Hair & Beauty Live 2011 to set the record. I set it during a ‘Stopwatch Styling’ competition, where you had to style a model’s hair in 15 minutes. I had to make at least 25 canerow braids and I actually braided 26 within the 15 minutes.
If you could style any model for Fashion Week, who would it be?
I think my own models are fabulous. Vanessa Davis is the star at the top of my Christmas tree and Misty Bailey is also fantastic. I like to stick with homegrown talent.
What do you think about retro trends coming back into fashion?
In my opinion the 70s and 80s were iconic decades, not just because I grew up around that time, but because it was a poignant time too. There were a lot of styles and fashions in that time which have made a comeback, like guys with Afros and high tops. I see young people wearing these looks and I’m proud.
If Brexit was a hairstyle, what would it look like?
Boris Johnson’s hair says it all - a big hot mess!
Tell us about your collection for the British Hairdressing Awards?
My collection was very pared back this year. It’s simplicity with a twist. I’ve used the natural hair of my models and kept it classic, and the models aren’t wearing any clothes. Afro hair is an art, so the theme is about letting the hair speak for itself. I’ve done this six years in a row and the fact that I’ve been a finalist six times is great. It would obviously be an honour to win, but I am in it for my passion, and to contribute and learn.
Follow Aycan on Instagram @nyhairdesign