What I’ve learned… about creating avant garde looks

Multi award-winning hairdresser Anne Veck, owner of Anne Veck salons in Oxford and winner of the Revlon Professional Global Style Masters 2016 title, shares her wisdom on creating avant garde looks


As well as hairdressing, I’ve always enjoyed working with my hands. Whether it’s constructing and building things or even doing DIY, I find working on intricate creations very calming. That’s why I love producing avant garde looks, but it is time consuming and complex. Do you want the challenge? Here’s how to get started…

Find inspiration

Usually, when I start an avant garde collection, my mind is triggered by an image. This could be related to hair, fashion or architecture. Inspiration is everywhere, so look around you and see what catches your eye.

Brainstorm key words

Once you have your inspiration, think about key words that come to mind that are triggered by the image. Think of it as a one-person brainstorming session, and can act as the beginning of your mood board.

Get Pinning

Next, create a Pinterest board and invite all of the key team members who are committed at this stage to add to it. That means everyone – from the photographer, to make-up artist, stylist and your assistants – can start pinning images and get involved. Without stating the obvious, at this stage no concept is too outrageous!

Practice makes perfect

Once you’ve finalised your moodboard and decided on the looks you’d like to create, practice, practice, practice each and every one of them inside out so you can achieve them blindfolded if you have to!

Stock up on materials

To create gravity defying hair avant garde styles you’ll need a good supply of materials that will be easily malleable, stiff enough to create the height, yet light enough so the model is not in pain when wearing your creation. I’m always on the look out for materials, so I spend quite a lot of time in my local DIY store! From garden netting, to chicken wire and cheap sun hats from Vietnam, there is a variety of items that can be used as frameworks to support the hair and help you bring your concepts to life.


I can’t emphasise enough the importance of preparing as much as possible in advance. All the great avant garde hairdressers I’ve shared notes with agree they spend hundreds of hours practicing and creating specific techniques and looks. It may seem laborious, but as time is always short on the day of the shoot, if you’ve prepared, you’ll be able to recreate the looks quickly when you’re under pressure, making that extra effort and forward planning well worth it. 

Plan your order

Know how you’ll go from look one to look two to look three. This is important because if you plan the order in advance, you’ll avoid overloading the hair with product on look one which could then cause you to struggle when trying to manipulate the hair into the styles you want to create for looks two and three.


Communicate with the whole team well in advance so everyone knows what to do on the day. If you’re all on the same page ahead of time and the photographer, stylist and make-up artist have photos and moodboards to reference so they know how best to light the shoot, plus the looks and clothing that will compliment the hair styles, you’ll get going a lot faster on the day.

Focus on the hair

When creating an avant garde look, avoid putting too much in one image. Keep the focus on the hair and don’t over do the styling. I’ve seen some collections that are more millinery than hairdressing, which defeats the object in my opinion. Producing striking hair should always be front of mind.

Play to your strengths

Over the years I’ve learned that my best avant garde images have been created when I’ve kept things simple and created a beautiful artistic result. That said, some of the great avant garde hairdressers work with the most incredible and beautiful detail, which is key to their success. So, as with most things, my advice would be to play to your strengths.education_whativelearnedstamp