Meet the Artists
We talk training, trends, signature cuts and wonder products with three of Toni&Guy’s most in-demand Artistic Directors
Educator & Artistic Director, Toni&guy Shoreditch
I’ve worked for Toni&Guy for almost 15 years – since I was 16. I’ve come full circle, as I started in the Academy and now I’m teaching there – so I’ve gone from training to trainer. I was 19 when I qualified as a stylist and worked in Sloane Square alongside Toni on Saturdays. Then I joined the Breakthrough Team and went on to teach in the Academy.
I head up Men’s Education in the Academy – an intensive three-day course. It focuses on contemporary men’s cutting, but we don’t just work on barbering and clippering; we also work with longer hair and current collection looks. We tailor the curriculum to the students, who are all qualified hairdressers wanting to build on basic skills or refresh knowledge. It’s a great place to talent-spot. We have students from all over the world: Korea, Belgium, Luxembourg, Brazil – everywhere.
I also work with the team on the annual Toni&Guy Collection – it’s a totally different creative approach, as you have to plan well in advance. We film the videos in May, then launch in October with looks that you have to teach over the next year. So you’ve got to think carefully about what’s going to remain current until then – the pressure is on to make the right trend predictions. I’m always inspired by music and films from certain eras, or band frontmen – they make great hair muses.
I’m flying the flag for longer men’s hair. Over the last couple of seasons we’ve seen a lot of models with long hair from shows like E. Tautz. We’re slowly seeing that translate to the salon. Guys are beginning to grow their hair; they think it’s a little more acceptable.
If a guy has longer hair, you don’t want it to look like it’s just been cut. You want the edges to be a little bit more textured and soft at the end so that it looks lived in. You don’t want it to look overly layered, or shaped around the face like a 90s feminine feathered look. A good cut should be simple – don’t overcomplicate things.
Lots of people think that if you’re not working in central London, then you don’t have a chance to become an Art Director. Don’t let that stop you from trying to achieve what you want to do. The Breakthrough Team is an excellent way to get onto the scene. Believe in yourself and if you show commitment then you’ll get that reward.
Educator & Artistic Director, Toni&Guy Covent Garden Long Acre
I’ve worked for Toni&Guy for 10 years now – but I was a bit of a latecomer. I started when I was nearly 19 and everyone on my course had already been working Saturday jobs since they were 15, so I was way behind the pack.
I did three years’ training in just one and a half years, then I vardered [brand-specific training] during the summer of 2009. It was so intense!
Every day is usually spent in the Academy, teaching on the men’s course with Charlie [Cullen] or David [Siero]. I come across lots of new talent, and also people who are coming back to refresh their skills. Some of them I remember from when I was an assistant and now I’m teaching them, which is quite cool. What I love about teaching is that transfer of knowledge; when you see they get it and the penny drops.
Toni&Guy has massively contributed to the grooming industry. For the last few seasons I feel like we’ve bridged a gap between barbering and hairdressing, and created a new niche in male grooming. A guy can come in and feel comfortable in a salon environment, not feel intimidated by it.
At the moment I’m enjoying doing a lot of burst fades. We’re experimenting with fading techniques, taking them a lot tighter and cleaner on the sides, but with a looser texture towards the back and keeping a little more length around the crown. Not forgetting a decent baseline – a nicely tapered nape. We have a lot of people who come into the salon to change their look, especially in the summertime. I think that people tend to change their look with the seasons, or if they’ve just broken up with their partner. But you put the wrong haircut on the wrong person, then that’s a bad haircut. You have to ease them in, keep them nice and relaxed. Just talk them through what you’re doing with their hair.
In the near future, I don’t see hair changing so much in terms of cut, I see it changing in terms of colour. I think we’ll see a lot of bleaching and a lot of pastel colour – baby blues and silver tones will have a massive impact. At the moment I have a client who is a singer and wants to go sky blue all over.
If you want to be a good Toni&Guy Style Director, you need a great imagination, you need to respect individuality and also have a passion for what you do. All three are the basis of creativity. What’s great as well is that you can be a brand within a brand, showcasing your own talents as well as promoting a company at the same time.
Educator & Artistic Director, Toni&Guy South Kensington
I had always wanted to work for Toni&Guy; it’s the reason I left my country [Spain]. My passion was to be a teacher; to educate people and share ideas. I started as an assistant, then moved to a Toni&Guy salon and gradually worked my way up through the Art Team into teaching at the Academy, which is what I do now.
At Toni&Guy you never stop learning, so motivation is key. Our men’s courses are getting more popular – we’ve got two or three a month. I teach Future Foundation, Advanced and Men’s Cutting courses and we change the course syllabus every six months after fashion week. What happens on the catwalk happens on the street eventually – fashion is like a wheel; everything changes, goes away and comes back in a different way, which makes it exciting, especially for hair.
Working at fashion week is what every Toni&Guy hairdresser dreams of. We meet the designers a week beforehand to discuss inspiration for looks. We work with every single model as an individual; in the past, all models used to look the same, but now we’re examining their face shape and suitability for a look to adapt our hairstyles accordingly. At fashion week, you have to be a really good team player. Never forget that even if you’re heading the show; without the team nothing happens.
Three words that sum up my technique are precision, texture and discipline. I love graphic, bowling shapes and short fringes. Precision cutting is my passion, taking hair really short at the back and sides to show off my barbering skills. With a different fringe, or a clippered line, you can create something unique for your client every appointment.
If I have a customer who wants a dramatic change, I will always check his face shape, hair texture and style. I’ll also ask how he looks after his hair at home – there’s no point cutting a style if it doesn’t fit with someone’s grooming regime. You want to make them proud of what you’re going to do. Guys tend to be quite brave when it comes to experimenting and I always say to my clients, ‘hair grows back, let’s do something different’.
I really value that special relationship between the stylist and the client – you can treat them as a friend. Men come in so often, sometimes every two weeks, so you spend a lot of time together. Some of my clients fly over from Los Angeles, and I look after a lot of West Ham and Chelsea football players. If you do a good job they will always come back.