Blonde ambition

Gary Hooker and Michael Young, co-founders of the Hooker & Young salon group, were tasked with bringing blondes to life in a fresh way for UK hairdressers. They tell us how they approached the task…

“As colourists, it’s always great to see colour results live and get a more in-depth insight into the formulas and application. We were set a challenge – to illustrate what an innovative new blonde colour line can do, its differences and unique elements – but it’s tough when you’re starting with a blank piece of paper. And blonde is one of the most popular colours for clients, and for colourists to get creative with. How would we come up with something original and attention-grabbing for UK hairdressers to see, and not another ‘boring blonde’ story that they’ve seen before?

“Stage shows allow you to deliver education and results in your own way, and for us this is the perfect platform to showcase what can do with blonde and get the message across about what’s possible with the BlondMe range from Schwarzkopf Professional in our own style. We had a roadshow booked, and the pressure was on.

“We decided we would give the shows a true retro vibe so it looked cool, fashion-led and different from what people would expect. It’s about offering a real fashion-feel to the show rather than just technical breakdowns of colour. We both love bringing vintage and retro elements into what we do and there’s definitely a revival of retro style going on at the minute. Since Alessandro Michele took over the creative direction at Gucci, it has payed homage to the ‘70s in a big way, but it didn’t need to be that obvious or over the top. We both love the subtlety of Tom Ford styling and how it has a kind of sensuality about it. We love women to look confident and effortlessly styled which is a perfect fit with that 70’s vibe.

“Then we set about bringing it all to life. We both enjoy the process of researching and brainstorming to put a show together, and although we were both pretty clear on how it should look, it was great to look back at some fashion photography for the ‘70s, particularly from Guy Bourdin and Helmut Newton. It’s easy to think that everyone walked around looking like Farrah Fawcett but that’s best left for fancy dress. Hair definitely had a soft sensuality about it, a great example of this is Veruschka, a supermodel from the ‘70s whose styles always had a sense of movement and freedom while often still hugging the face.

“We wanted the looks to have a real authentic feel of texture and shape, with that lived-in look that appears to be effortless. The BlondMe range has a variety of shades from cool blondes to rich caramels and even some subtle pastels using the blushes sprays, which me mixed in to show how diverse the range is while also illustrating what can be achieved on different bases. “We wanted the looks to have a real authentic feel in texture and shape, with that lived-in look appearing effortless. We layered the Strawberry Blush Spray into a warm caramel blonde to create a rose blush which looked gorgeous and demonstrated a different way of the using the pastels which would ordinarily be used on a cool ash base.”

“After the hair story had been worked through, we collaborated with fashion stylist Clare Frith to style super cool looks to open the show. The models wore trench coats with prepped hair tied up; some wore head scarfs and others had vintage shades that we sourced online to give an authentic look. After a hair change, the coats were removed to reveal gorgeous outfits of simple styling in nude shades. Models wore wraparound skirts, loose silk blouses and jumpsuits, very Diane von Furstenberg, which continued that ‘70s feel and looked amazing with the varying shades of blonde.

“Often with such shows you get the stage photography and that’s it. We took the opportunity to shoot all the models backstage so that we could showcase what we’ve been styling during the roadshows and capture the gorgeous colours. This isn’t “hairdresser hair” – these are relevant colour looks and styling that plenty of our clients would engage with, so we absolutely wanted imagery that we could use to inspire them to try something new with blonde shades.

“We very much wanted to put our own spin on the colour range, making it relatable and salon friendly in true Hooker & Young style. There’s only so many ways you can present blonde models; however modern colour products offer you the scope to create some really amazing and diverse looks that reflect what is happening in hair colour right now.”