By Leanne Cutler, Hair Shots 2 The World
Emiliano Vitale is having the professional year of his life presenting hair shows around the world, here he gives us a close insight into his world.
1. London will be your second Alternative Hair Show and third international show this year. BSG World Brazil, AHS Moscow and AHS London – is that correct?
Absolutely! 2011 has truly been an amazing year, and it’s interesting to note that the countries we are or have presented in have truly supported our work from 2007 until now. The Alternative Hair Show London is a lifelong dream and the culmination of a lot of hard work, and it does feel like I have come full circle as I first presented at the AHS with Sanrizz many years ago! It is an exhausting and frantic process, but so worth it.
2. Do you repeat looks form show to show or do you start afresh each time?
Brazil was completely its own show. We had specific costumes made for it and the looks, although they were specific to that show, they really are a representation of who we are. At é SALON our goal is to translate our passion, and we love strong haircutting, so this is my main objective with every presentation.
For the Alternative Hair Show it must be original – so the emphasis is strongly placed on presenting a show that has never been seen before.
At the moment our theme and direction is Tomorrow People with an emphasis on “Neo Linear”, meaning New Lines. We incorporate this in our colour and our haircuts so although it is new models and new countries it does mean different looks, however the overall theme and direction is very similar!
3. How do you start planning for a segment in the Alternative Hair Show? What is in the brief and how particular is the brief? How much creative freedom are you given?
The theme for this year is iLLUSION. The brief was quite detailed and included a definition of ILLUSION. It is really about translating that word into a 3-4 minute spectacular. The brief was quite detailed in it’s meaning, and we have to create a show, including original music and clothes, that has never been seen before. Then we have to pick which segment best reflects what we are doing.
iLLUSION Avant Garde
Our theme for 2011 AHS is a variation on our “Tomorrow People”, living in a borderless world and living in harmony as one people. Our show is inspired by our culture and our true history of Australia. We are inspired by the Aboriginal culture and are using this as an underlying theme yet at the same time it is about é SALON and who we are in this world.
4. How many styles do you have to prepare and how long is the segment?
We are preparing 6 models. This means 6 different looks to encompass the 3-4 minute production.
5. How do you source models? There or here and take them with you?
I flew to London in July and cast our models at that time. I saw 80 dancers on the Sunday, and 80 models on the Monday. It was exhausting as I flew in at 6am on the Sunday and was already at the casting at 2pm. We then take these girls with us to Russia, and we use the same girls in London.
6. How much luggage do you travel with considering the wigs, costumes, make up etc? Or do you courier these in advance?
We don’t use wigs in our shows, and we only occasionally use extensions and pre-made pieces. Our philosophy is always ‘be about the hair’ – how it moves and how it works with the model.
Though, to get an idea about our Brazil show, we travelled with over 100kgs. 6 outfits, 10 pairs of boots, two full hairdressing kits including products; it really is a production. This time we are going over with around 130kgs, as the costumes have more detail plus we are going via New York, as we are working on Spring New York Fashion Week so we are taking our US kits also.
7. Do you have to do anything special to pack elaborate or large wigs?
All our costumes are quite elaborate and are made from PVC using boning to create the shape. So this takes very special packing. We are also picking up 9 pairs of boots in New York, but the most elaborate is a jacket for our finale model. We are taking this on board.
8. Do you have to travel to the destination in advance to plan? For instance, visit venues and production designers?
As I mentioned earlier I went to London to cast for the show, meet the producers, my choreographer and discussed everything with the organiser. I could not have completed this show without doing this. I arrive in London one week prior to the Russia show and prep all the girls and then we have one full day rehearsal for the show. The week prior to the London show we do the same thing.
This is imperative to these big productions. When you think there will be 4000 hairdressers filling the Kremlin Palace and Royal Albert Hall you want to be well prepared!
9. Do you allow much time for jet lag? How do you deal with jet lag?
From experience we basically hit the ground running and don’t really give into the jetlag! Normally it hits when you arrive back to Australia and the adrenalin rush is no longer keeping you going!
10. Do you get nervous or excited at the event? How would you describe your feeling/mood on the day of the event?’
ALWAYS EXCITED! There is never a day when I take it for granted! I’m probably more likely to pinch myself every time I am heading somewhere.
On the day I am always scared and excited yet at the same time there is a real sense of belonging. Inevitably the feeling of “What am I doing here? Do I belong” floats through your mind, but within 5 minutes of the work starting you just realise this what you have always dreamt of and where you do in fact belong.
I am just ever so grateful for every opportunity I find myself taking hold of. I have worked so hard and nothing has ever been handed to me on a platter. I don’t have a company backing me that sends me here or there. Brazil, Russia, London and Milan have all come about by the organisers of these events, so more than anything I am just so very grateful.
11. How do you feel afterwards, energised or exhausted?
Spiritually I feel energised, as I am living my dream and every event fulfils my spiritual needs, as I believe that we must all live in our truth.
Physically it is exhausting as you put everything into it, plus I work 5 days a week behind the chair, run my business, manage 15 individuals on my team, and fit all my clients in before I leave. Phew – it’s exhausting!
12. You’ve been on the go all year, how do you keep up the pace?
I practice the attitude of gratitude and stay focussed on the moment. I don’t think ahead when I am focused on something, I just focus on the current and perhaps next project. Sure when you are working with the designers it starts 6 months before, but my main focus and energy is always on the next event. I have found if I don’t do that, I can become easily overwhelmed. This is my LIFE, I chose it and am grateful to be living my dream.
I also was asked to go to South Africa and Bulgaria, so these I had to pass on. It really comes down to picking and choosing the events that are best for é SALON.
13. Is there anything that annoys or unsettles you when preparing for a show?
Occasionally the self-doubt monster rears its ugly head, and I do find that tremendously unsettling. It is in moments when a look isn’t working, but at these moments one needs to get back to basics and simply look in the mirror and ask, “Who am I”. This will always bring me back to my truth.
Annoying is those that want to take credit for what I have spent my life working towards, or those that don’t appreciate the opportunities given to them.
14. What’s the funniest thing that has happened to you at one of these shows?
In Rio Lisa and I took a cab ride to Copacabana beach. Upon getting to the beach I realised I didn’t have the name of the hotel on me. So trying to communicate to a taxi driver where our hotel was, with no common language was about the craziest experience of my life.
15. How does your salon business benefit from doing such shows?
It is very hard to determine this in dollar value, but it does create energy within the business and among our staff, and this cannot be bought. There is a creative energy that flows from the creative team to the rest of the team, then to clients and onto the community. For example, we spent our last training night developing a new way to create a colour technique and in the next session we are creating a totally new look again so we involve everyone who wishes to experience it. They will get to see all the times we get it wrong until we finally get it right. That’s such an important process to experience, as it humanises techniques and ideas, and the young ones realise that they can do anything as long as they keep on trying.
The team is given opportunities, they speak to the clients about them and the clients get excited because their hairdresser is travelling the world presenting to other hairdressers, so for them this reaffirms why they come to é SALON.
Also you attract team members of a certain calibre who are ambitious and have a desire to be the best. Unfortunately what happens is that you only have so much room in a business so maybe the next step is expansion??!!??
16. How do your staff benefit from your involvement? Do opportunities carry on to them?
For anyone who knows, my team is the main reason I do this. Let’s face it, I do have my own dreams, but I always involve my team on all my events.
Lisa Muscat has travelled with me to New York, Brazil and will be back in New York with me, then to London and back to London with me for the AHS London. I have Bianca and Luana coming with me to Russia, and then Valerio will join Lisa and I in London with my Mum and Dad.
Then in Adelaide for the Intercoiffure National Conference, Mason and Amanda, who are the next generation of é SALON creative team, will join Lisa and me.
I recommended Lisa Muscat for the L’Oréal styling team simply because she is so talented and such a hard worker, and now she has cemented her position there having already directed her own show as well as doing several shoots.
You see, the harder you work the more opportunities you get. You have to be sincere, truthful and be ready to work your backside off, because I have spent my whole sacrificing to get to where I am and you can come for the ride but there are no free rides on the e salon bus!
17. Internationally, one could argue that you are one of the most well known Australian hairdressers in the world … How have you created a strong international profile to get to this point?
To read that question has just given me goose bumps, and I honestly feel humbled by that question.
I have developed the greatest relationship with my publicist and we have spent the past 4 years working on this together. You see, here in Australia I felt I was not being presented with the opportunities I desired – doing shows, seminars etc. These positions were already occupied, most of them by great friends of mine, and rightly so.
If I was going to wait for companies to present me with opportunities, I was never going to achieve anything in my life. I am not one to just hang around, so we decided to focus on building an international profile as an industry leader, to have our work published all over the world, with the belief that this would lead to more opportunities here in Australia. I could not have been more mistaken, as the opportunities have all presented themselves internationally, all purely based on our profile and the response to our work.
We had a targeted PR campaign to international media. We continue to release our collections to media, and a big part of this is consistent presentation and strength in our work. Collections that remain true to the é SALON aesthetic and what we stand for. In other words, our international magazines know what to expect however we can still surprise them by pushing the boundaries.
Our work is not predictable as what we do is stay true to our core values yet always strive to express who we are at the moment that we are creating our collections. We do not follow trends we believe that we either hit or miss, yet we are always true.
Two of the best moments for me so far this year was arriving in Brazil and we were given the honour of closing the show. The second was having a conversation with the Creative Team from Spain’s X-presion Creativos. They told me they were fans of our work and had been watching our work for the past 5 years. They told me how much they admire and respect our work for the detail, the precision and the total concept of each shoot. These guys to me are creative geniuses, and they love what I do – crazy!
Although that is what its about – creating and producing work that is respected by your peers and that you hope will inspire someone! Is there anything more to life?
18. What attracted BSG World Brazil and the AHS to invite you to do shows?
That is a question for them, sorry.
19. What is your ultimate hairdressing goal now that you’ve almost done the lot?
To be honest, I have not even tickled the surface of what opportunities are available in this glorious world of hair.
So lets just say this, my ultimate goal in life is to leave my industry a better place because I was in it. I could not ask for more than that!