A Model Relationship
Toni&Guy’s partnership with London Fashion Week and The British Fashion Council helped put British hairstyling on the fashion map. Fifteen years on and the rest is history…
Since its launch in a west London car park in 1984, London Fashion Week has always been intent on pushing boundaries. Influenced by nightclubs and counter-culture, this spirit of colourful rebellion spilled over onto the catwalks and into news headlines; from designer Katharine Hamnett wearing an anti-nuclear t-shirt to meet Margaret Thatcher, to Vivienne Westwood’s models-as-activists speaking out on the catwalk about capitalism and climate change.
London has also produced some of the most famous hairstyles and hairdressers in the world. So it was somewhat inevitable for Toni&Guy to join forces with the British Fashion Council (BFC) to become official LFW partners, cementing both the brand’s reputation as an authority in hair trends, as well as bringing the intrinsic link between fashion and hairdressing firmly into the spotlight.
We sat down with Sacha Mascolo-Tarbuck, Global Creative Director of Toni&Guy and Caroline Rush, Chief Executive of the BFC, along with Toni&Guy’s International Artistic Director, Cos Sakkas, to talk about their ground-breaking partnership and where they plan to take this in the future.
Sacha, can you tell us a little more about your early career; how you started out and progressed?
My hairdressing career started at a young age. I had a Saturday job in our first salon aged 12! I began working full-time in our Sloane Square salon when I was 17 years old, alongside my uncle Anthony Mascolo, who was Creative Director of Toni&Guy at the time. We started working together as a team really quickly and I spent 15 years travelling around the world with him in my role as show director.
During those early days, Guido Palau also worked for us, leading the session team for Toni&Guy. Guido asked me to work alongside him as his first assistant and we worked together on fashion shoots, campaigns and fashion shows. In fact, I clearly remember the first ever show he did for Calvin Klein in New York. Klein had seen a photoshoot with Kate Moss lensed by David Sims, and Guido was the session stylist. Klein said, “I want that girl and I want that look.” And so I spent the next five years working on the shows with Guido, hanging out in New York, cutting Donatella Versace’s hair in Milan and immersing myself in the international fashion scene.
Did those early experiences inspire you to pursue the relationship with London Fashion Week?
Sacha: Of course! It was my dream to become an official sponsor of the event. After the company de-merger in 2002, I began working more closely with my father. I loved working with him and he loved the LFW association too. Our company has always had an incredible roster of hairdressers, but gaining experience in the fashion world can only elevate your own work. My aim with the business is to champion my staff and give them the experiences I had growing up in the industry.
Far too often, art teams are overshadowed by the creative director; they don’t enter the upper echelons of competition awards categories, as that accolade is reserved for the boss. I don’t believe in that. I continuously champion my team and by sponsoring LFW I’m able to give my art team the opportunity to lead their own shows and gain recognition for what they do. It’s my aim to do this in all areas of hairdressing, from session work, to education and in-salon. It’s also beneficial to our customers – imagine having your hair cut by a stylist who was backstage at a major fashion show just days before.
How did you feel LFW could benefit from this collaboration, Caroline?
Caroline: The great thing about having got to know Sacha was that when I became CEO, we had a vision of elevating Fashion Week and making it more accessible for everyone, not just ‘fashion insiders’. Customers can now walk into any Toni&Guy and they have access to incredible fashion week content with shows featured on Toni&Guy.tv, as well as in this magazine, online and across social media.
How do you choose which of your salon stylists get to go backstage at Fashion Week?
Cos: We now have 650 salons worldwide, so it really gives salon partners and staff the opportunity to be part of our session team. They go through their auditions with me at the Toni&Guy Academy in London, we give them extra training and the most talented are picked to become part of the permanent session team. Our session team stylists need to be really skilled at blow-drying and quickly putting up hair – it’s a very different pace and methodology to working in the salon.
Was launching the label.m partnership back in 2013 significant in cementing the relationship with LFW?
Sacha: Yes, you can go into any of our salons around the world and you always see the product in front of you with the LFW logo and that association with London. But as well as our salons benefiting, it has also allowed us to give back to the British Fashion Council. A percentage of label.m profits fund designer support programmes to help the next generation of designers.
How do you think that this partnership has elevated London’s global fashion reputation in general?
Caroline: It has given us the opportunity to showcase London’s creativity, not just from a design perspective but also from an image-making perspective, of which hair is an important part. And to see that play out in salons around the world is just brilliant. Sacha: We’ve been so lucky to work with and champion incredible designers such as Giles Deacon, House of Holland, Peter Pilotto and Mary Katrantzou. These London designers have now become major fashion players.
“By sponsoring LFW, I’m able to give my art team the opportunity to lead their own shows” Sacha Mascolo-Tarbuck
As LFW continues to evolve, where do you see the future of the Toni&Guy and BFC partnership?
Caroline:My belief is that citywide celebrations, greater consumer engagement and shared experiences are the future. Fashion Week used to be such a closed shop, now all of a sudden you can watch shows online and see how it comes together. I’d like to see how we open that up even further over the next few years. Sacha: I want to continue to nurture young hairdressers and designers, and build on what we’ve already achieved with Caroline. It’s now time for Cos and the art team to evolve.