Sunday, December 11, 2011

Inside the Minds of Top Session Stylists, Andrew Thomas Corbett and George Akkad

Hairdressing has always gone hand in hand with fashion. In every magazine you read, the model will have their hair styled perfectly to fit in with the clothes on display. Everywhere you look, hair has been styled perfectly with each individual hair sitting perfectly in its place. 

This level of hair dressing takes lots of skill and hard work to achieve. Working on shoots or for fashion shows is only undertaken by the very best session stylists who can work quickly and under great pressure. I have interviewed hairstylists: Andrew Thomas Corbett and George Akkad (the creators of the PSIONICS Show) to discover what it is really like to work in the hairdressing industry.

Andrew Thomas Corbett-Psionics

1) How did you become interested in hairdressing, does it run in the family?

Andy: Only two things spoke to me as a teenager one was rock music and the other was hair. I had long hair and had it cut off at 13. This was the turning point in my life and the penny just dropped, it was then that I realised hairdressing was what I wanted to do! Despite this epiphany, the creativity needed to turn the idea into reality came later in my early 20s but I knew all along that I wanted to be a hairdresser. My older brother is a hairdresser but this didn't influence me in my decision.

George: My mum is a hairdresser and also a fashion designer. Being surrounded by creativity from such a young age really shaped who I am today and helped for my creative vision. I see hair as a fabric which I can manipulate to create something new and exciting. I started out working in salons and have since become a session stylist working on shoots and at fashion weeks in Paris, New York and London.

2) How has living in London impacted on your career?

Andy: London changed everything. I had a small town mentality before I came to London but since arriving, I have stopped watching TV, read more, got into art and became spiritually aware of the world around me. Moving to London was like an expansion of consciousness creatively and spiritually which has put me in the space I'm at now. I am having the greatest time of my life, I have found myself. 

George: London is the fashion capital of the world so it is no surprise that it is full of inspiration that I can manifest into hair designs. London hosts a unique style which is shown through our interest in street style. I am always looking to see how everyday people are creating their own sense of style and this provides London with it's own creative element which I find really inspiring.

3) Andy, Your work outside of the salon tends to be focused more on Avant Garde, how do you find your inspiration for your different designs?

I don't really get inspired by anything now, things just pop into my head. I think you just have to be receptive- it’s like a meditative open outlook at the world. A collection is what I'm into at a particular time but it all comes under the umbrella of mysticism/mythology which along with a Mannerist approach makes my work unique. In the first book, I was heavily influenced by H R Giger and I wanted an approach to hair which was out of a fashion context. With the second book I was more aware of creating my own identity through my work and that will progress with the third...

George Akkad Ice Queen Collection 2009
4) You are senior hairdressers in salons, you write books on hair and you are making a film in addition to showcasing your work in your joint shows: Mannerism and Psionics. What plans do you have for the future?

Andy: My DVD is being sent out December and it is a new phase for me which I hope will sell well so I can do more. Along with George I would like to show new work in Paris next year and I still feel I have much more to say creatively so book 3 will emerge next year. I am also being featured in an overseas exhibition next year by some young up and coming architects of whom the leader of the exhibition is a client of mine and wants my hair structures featured.
Industry recognition is always cool so I will be entering all the competitions again. I have a lot of ambitions to the point of being all consuming one of which is sci-fi film hair but I just want to enjoy the journey and do it my own way.

George: In the future I would like my own academy and model agency whilst also being able to do shoots for magazines and of course, more session work. The highlight of my career so far has been working at New York fashion week with Marc Jacobs/Prada/Fendi and Chloe and at Paris fashion week with Chanel and Dior. The future can only improve on what has gone.

5) What advice can you give to aspiring hairdressers?

Andy: Make a list of your dreams as the hairdresser you want to be and just do them. It is hard of course but it is just a measure of time and belief, I am still getting there myself! Being yourself and work hard and being consistent is essential. It takes a lot of sacrifices but if it’s worth it.

George: To me a hairdresser implies a constant search and desire to create new frontiers with hair. Being receptive to stimuli all around means you are able to create freely using hair as a means of expression. You need to have the passion and the drive; the creative vision and you must never give up on your dreams. You must also research what is going on around you not just in society but also in the world of fashion. 

To see more of George and Andrew's work, please visit their websites or read Andrew's book: Hair Mythos in Dark Mannerism.

Twitter: @GeorgeAkkad @AndrewPsionics

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