Catch a glimpse of life backstage at London Fashion Week with Toni&Guy’s International Artistic Director Indira Schauwecker
I’ve worked on Fashion Week shows for so many years, yet no two seasons are ever the same – there are always exciting challenges and interesting new stories for us to interpret. Before the day of the show, the teams always do a hair test with the stylist and designer. Usually they already have a concept for the hair, but occasionally they have no idea – in which case, you need to see the clothes and develop something from that. As much as you want to be creative, the hair should complement but not overshadow the clothes.
The IA London AW20 show was about mental health and how electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is used to treat people who have mental illness. The make-up artist drew electrode marks on sides of each model’s head, while the rest of the skin was kept very pale – it gave me goosebumps. To give the hair a ‘shocked’ look, we made it very avant-garde and static.
Once the hair was backcombed, we used a hairdryer nozzle to blast it in the direction we wanted the hair to go in. We contrasted this with flat, shiny finger-waves around the crown of the head. It wasn’t the prettiest look. It was a bit weird, which is what I love doing. Inheriting the hair look from a previous show can be a challenge. Glitter in the girls’ hair is a nightmare to get out – a week later and you’ll still have bits of it in your session kit, your brush, your tools etc! In the backstage area there usually are no basins, so you have to put the model’s head under the taps of the toilets (and sometimes there’s only cold water).
Some models are bubbly and excited, especially if it’s their first show. Others can be fussy and sensitive – especially with their hair. You literally brush one strand of hair and she squeaks! If that happens I try and be as gentle as possible, but after a certain point you need to be firm with them (“I know you are sensitive, but I’m being really gentle. I can’t brush your hair any more gently than this!”).
When I started to do shows like Prada, Miu Miu and Valentino, I thought it would be harder to work around the big-name models. But in fact, it’s the opposite. Usually they are just doing that one show all day and the designers pamper them with spa treatments beforehand, so they’re usually very relaxed and down to earth. I love a lot of the girls, but Cara Delevingne is the most fun to work with, she’s always clowning around and making the other models laugh. I also love working with Jessica Stam, she’s just so beautiful and really kind and patient.
I haven’t really seen a lot of altercations, but sometimes when people take things too seriously they can be diva-ish. It can be anyone; the production people, the stylist, the hairstylist or the make-up artist. Things can get intense and people can be rude when they’re stressed – but you learn not to take it personally. If you did that you’d never be able to work in the fashion industry.
We tend to do make-up and hair in different stages, but sometimes if time is tight or a model is late, you have to improvise. You just have to put their hair up as quickly as possible; even if it means having five hair stylists all working on the same girl, you make it happen! When the show starts and everyone else is enjoying it, I end up looking for things that we could have done better – I’m a perfectionist. But I’ve learnt with experience to let it go and to realise that it’s just me who’s noticing every little flaw! But the thing I really love about working on a show is the amazing feeling you get when everyone collaborates on a simple idea, and then these characters and a story start to emerge. It’s definitely an adrenaline rush! To book a hair appointment with Indira, contact Toni&Guy Covent Garden on 020 7240 7342